The coffee cherries are brought to the processing plant immediately after harvesting.  Ripe, overripe, and under-ripe cherries are mixed together at this point.  If they were not separated the coffee would have a dusty unpalatable flavor with few desirable attributes.  The beans are first washed with water and then passed into tanks filled with water for preliminary separation.  The best coffees are dense and will sink in water, whereas the overripe cherries will float and are separated.  The low-quality coffees are either slated for internal consumption or sold to instant coffee producers in the United States or Europe.  Unfortunately, green (underripe) cherries are also dense and will continue to be mixed with the perfectly ripe cherries.  The green cherries can be sorted out during wet-processing, or in the case of dry-processed coffees must be sorted at a later time.

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