Before we begin to dwell a little about honey processed coffee let us tell you that there is no actual honey involved.
Honey process is a method where fresh coffee cherries are de-pulped (outer skin is removed) but allowed to dry without washing the mucilage. Most of the cherry is gone, but the remaining golden, sticky mucilage is the reminiscent of honey, which is where the process gets its name. Therefore, this process is considered to be halfway between a washed coffee and a natural processed coffee.
There are further subcategories of Honey processed coffees called White, Yellow & Black Honey Sun Dried Process coffees. These differ in both the amount of mucilage left on the beans (white having the least vs black having the most amount of mucilage) & the time for which they are dried.
White Honey Process coffee is fermented for the least amount of time. It is typically dried out in the open sun, where they are raked at regular intervals. Shortly after drying, the mucilage is washed away and the coffee bean is dried. White Honey Processed coffees are the closest to washed processed coffees.
Yellow Honey Processed coffees take White Honey Processed just a bit further. They are still fermented quickly but typically spend more time drying. As the honey processed beans keep fermenting in their mucilage, they are constantly attended to by raking them in short time intervals.
Black Honey Processed coffee is the most fermented coffee on the honey process spectrum. This tastes the closest to full natural process coffee as Black Honey Processed coffee is fermented for the longest. With the extra fermentation, richer fruit flavours are present in the finished cup of coffee. Black honey processed coffees tend to be on the wilder side in terms of flavour, giving off full sweetness and body, while also imparting some fermented, musty flavours.
The way coffee is processed has a massive effect on the flavour profile of the coffee bean. These differences are very significant. Some processing methods are there to add and enhance the flavour of the coffee. This is the case with honey and naturally processed coffees as well.