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First of all, the cherries are put into water. The ripe ones will sink, and the unripe ones, floating on the surface, are removed. Next, the ripe cherries are fed through a machine that separates the skin and most of the pulp of the cherry from the seeds inside. At this point, there are two different ways of removing the rest of the pulp and the mucilage, a glue like layer, from the seeds- the ferment and wash method, and the machine assisted method.
The ferment and wash method involves placing the seeds into large vats of water, and allowing them to ferment- the length of time spent fermenting varies around the world and depends on preferences, ranging typically from twelve to thirty six hours. Throughout this, the seeds have to be monitored closely to ensure they do not take on certain unwanted sour tastes. At the end, the seeds are assessed by hand to detect whether they are ready, and then they are washed thoroughly with clean water to remove the loosened mucilage.
The machine assisted method uses mechanical scrubbing as opposed to fermenting to remove the left over pulp and mucilage, a process which uses far less water and provides more uniform and reliable removal. However, there are certain flavours that the fermentation process adds to the seeds that some prefer over a squeaky clean bean.
Once the seeds have been cleaned, they are dried in much the same way as the cherries are in the dry process. They are laid out on patios or matting raised by trestles out under the sun, or put into a heating machine, and then left until their water content reaches around ten percent.