The method of drying is one of the main distinctions between beans
Once the coffee cherries are picked off a plant, the beans have to be separated from the rest of the fruit and dried before being sent off to a roaster. The two main methods of processing are called dry (natural) and wet (washed).
In dry processing, the beans are laid out fully intact on concrete lots or elevated drying stations and the sun scorches the moisture out of the beans. This can take up to 15 days, at which point the seed is removed from the dehydrated exterior. Mechanical dryers can also be used to speed things up.
The second method is wet processing, in which the seed is separated mechanically and then fermented to remove the sticky mucilage layer. Once the mechanical process is completed, the beans are either dried in the sun or mechanically.
The middle ground between the methods is known as pulped natural or honeyed, in which the outer skin is removed and the beans are left to dry with the mucilage intact.