Decaffeinated Coffee

Decaffeinated coffee is quite interesting and is becoming more and more popular. The challenge is to produce decaffeinated or decaf coffee that is just as good as the regular coffee. The process that the beans go through, to extract the caffeine from the coffee beans, means in most cases that certain flavours get lost. There are quite a few different methods at the moment to extract the caffeine from the coffee beans.

Most coffee shops do not have a separate grinder to grind decaffeinated coffee beans fresh on site. Instead they use grounded decaffeinated coffee which is not as fresh as the normal coffee. This often brings down the quality of decaffeinated coffee.

Decaffeinated coffee is popular amongst people that can’t or prefer not to have the caffeine but still enjoy a nice cup of coffee. It is important that everybody should be able to enjoy the best coffee, decaf or not. The best way would be to have fresh decaffeinated coffee that is processed in a most natural way.

The caffeine in coffee beans is almost always extracted before roasting. This means that the green beans (beans before roasting) are going through a decaffeinating process to extract the caffeine. Usually this is done with some sort of solvent but there are other ways such as the Swiss Water process and the Decaf Stick.

Scientists have discovered a naturally caffeine-free coffee plant. The caffeine-free bean comes from an Ethiopian Coffea Arabica plant. This could be the future for caffeine free coffee. Read more about this discovery here.

Arabica coffee contains about half the amount of caffeine than Robusta coffee.

Coffee Plant and Coffee Picker

Swiss Water process
The Swiss water process uses only water to remove caffeine. The Swiss Water decaffeination process is guaranteed to deliver 99.9% caffeine free coffee beans.

The Swiss Water process uses coffee flavoured water and a carbon filter to extract the caffeine. It is a relatively simple process and it’s greatest advantage is that it is 100% chemical free.

Have a look at their video about the Swiss Water process.

Direct Process
In the Direct Process for decaffeinating coffee beans the beans are soaked in a caffeine absorbing solvent like methylene chloride or ethyl acetate. This solvent that now contains caffeine is then separated from the beans and the caffeine is removed from the solvent. These steps are repeated until sufficient caffeine is removed from the beans.

Indirect Process
The Indirect Process is similar but the beans are removed and either methylene chloride or ethyl acetate is used to extract the caffeine from the water.

There are certain terms that describe decaffeinating processes such as the “water process”, “natural process” and the “European process”. All these processes refer to decaffeinating processes that use chemicals.

Decaf Stick
The Decaf Stick is totally different than any other decaffeinating process. The Decaf Stick is used after the coffee has been brewed. This means that the beans are not affected in any way. The Decaf Stick is simply inserted and stirred in the cup of coffee. The caffeine is then absorbed by the Decaf Stick without affecting any flavours of the coffee.

The best way for decaffeinating coffee would be to find caffeine free coffee plants that produce the same quality coffee beans. There is a good chance that coffee plants will be genetically modified in the future to produce caffeine free coffee beans.

You can find additional information about decaffeination on WikiPedia.

Product Caffeine Content
Regular coffee (drip method, 5 oz) 60 – 180 mg
Regular coffee (percolated, 5 oz) 40 – 170 mg
Regular coffee (instant, 5 oz) 30 – 120 mg
Decaffeinated coffee (drip method, 5 oz) 2 – 5 mg
Decaffeinated coffee (instant, 5 oz) 1 – 5 mg
Espresso (1 oz) 30 – 50 mg (1 oz)
Tea, loose or bags (5 oz) 20 – 90 mg
Iced Tea (12 oz) 67 – 76 mg
Hot Cocoa (5 oz) 2 – 20 mg
Coca Cola (12 oz) 46 mg
Pepsi (12 oz) 38 mg
Milk chocolate (1 oz) 1 – 15 mg

Source: US Food and Drug Administration and National Soft Drink Association


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