Before coffee is ready for export there is one final stage in coffee preparation known as ‘hulling’. It usually takes place at a special plant just before shipping. There are usually three steps: hulling, polishing, and finally grading & sorting–polishing is an optional step.  These three steps are similar to both wet- and dry-processed coffee.

Hulling –  machines are used to remove the parchment layer endocarp from wet processed coffee. Hulling dry processed coffee refers to removing the entire dried fruit: the exocarp, mesocarp and endocarp from the cherries after they have been naturally dried.

Polishing – is an optional process in which any ’silver skin’ remaining on the beans after hulling is removed in a polishing machine. While polished beans are considered superior to unpolished ones, in reality there is little difference between the two though many espresso blenders covet only unpolished beans which are claimed to be sweeter tasting.

Grading & Sorting – is performed right before the coffee beans are exported.  The beans are sorted by size, weight and will also be closely evaluated for color flaws or other imperfections.  Typically, the bean size is represented on a scale of 10 to 20. The number represents the size of a round hole’s diameter in terms of 1/64’s of an inch. A number 10 bean would be the approximate size of a hole with a diameter of 10/64 of an inch and a number 15 bean, 15/64 of an inch. Beans are sized by passing through a series of different sized screens. They are also sorted pneumatically by using an air jet to separate heavy from light beans.

Next defective beans are removed. Though this process can be accomplished by sophisticated machines that can detect defects undistinguished by the human eye, in many countries, it is done by hand while the beans move along an electronic conveyor belt. Beans of unsatisfactory size, color, or otherwise unacceptable, are removed. This includes over-fermented beans, those with insect damage or unhulled. In many countries, this process is done both by machine and hand, insuring that only the finest quality coffee beans are exported