Soaking Coffee Beans in Honey?

Honeyed Robusta? Interesting!

When it comes to commercial coffee production, Robusta is the king. I guess it is attributed to its huge fruiting capacity, ease of cultivation, pesticide resistance and wider choice of growing lands. Excelsa and Liberica have low fruiting capacity while Arabica is picky on its growing altitude. Arabica is well raised in mountain areas and is the choice of specialty coffee makers.

Coffee can be sweetened during cup preparation. As in adding sugar to boiling concoction or individual cup by drinkers preference. Instant coffee in sachets and bigger packs are often added with sweetener, milk and other flavorings before packing. Kind of fast and convenient but strips away most of the inherent flavor. Whatever, there must be fewer people who are very particular with the taste. Instant coffee is a boom business.

I saw the post on Coffee Roaster Forum, with short provided description. Based on my understanding, it was whole unmilled Robusta soaked in honey. Robusta usually undergo dry processing – harvesting then immediate sun drying. Soaking maybe done before drying or after, then re-drying. The latter is more labor intensive but may allow better absorption. Removing the husk first will surely save on precious sweet liquid.

So why add flavor before the coffee is sent to roasting chamber? The roasting temperature for sure will degrade and evaporate those. A method with more sense is spraying flavor right after roasting. When the freshly roasted coffee is in cooling stage. If vanilla flavor is sprayed, there is a good chance it will be carried over to cup. However, if coffee beans was soaked in vanilla solution, dried, then roasted. Do not expect a vanilla flavored coffee after. For light roasted coffee, maybe. I might do some testing once our own built drum roaster is in operation.

I also heard this trick with cacao beans. Adding fruit flavors such as calamansi and mango during fermentation process. In artisinal setting where makers roast their bean light. Flavors added during fermentation may survived roast. Even more chance for raw chocolate makers, beans never undergo roasting. Ohh! I remember. There is a thing called “green coffee”. I mean literally selling the ground green coffee. In this case, any infused flavor is surely retained to great extent.

Honey flavor may not be the real intention. Roasting is a complex process. One of this is sugar caramelization. Reinforcing the sugar content by soaking in honey may improve the end flavor a lot.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.