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Decaff Coffee

Decaff Coffee

Decaffe coffee is achieved through a variety of processes, which are relatively harmless to your health, but harmful to coffee quality. Almost every process for decaffeination consists of soaking the beans in water to dissolve the caffeine, extracting the caffeine with either a solvent or activated carbon and re-soaking the coffee beans in the decaffeinated water to reabsorb the flavour compounds that were lost in the initial extraction. The solvents mainly used are methylene chloride or ethyl acetate, which both have a low boiling point. Since ethyl acetate is found naturally in fruits you will hear people call this process "natural."  The chemical composition of decaf coffee is altered, and therefore the flavour and aroma are changed.

 

Different Methods

 

Swiss Water Process

Green coffee beans are soaked in hot water to remove the caffeine and compounds responsible for much of the flavour of the coffee. The first batch of green coffee beans is discarded. The caffeine is removed from the solution by means of activated carbon filters. This leaves a solution saturated with flavour compounds, which is then used to soak a new batch of decaffeinated green coffee beans. The principle of water processed decaf coffee is that the solution is saturated with the components soluble in water other than caffeine. Therefore, only the caffeine in the bean is allowed to escape whereas the rest of the compounds are in equilibrium. Unfortunately, the flavour of batches is intermixed since the chemically saturated solution is used repeatedly.

 

CO2 Process

Green coffee beans are soaked in highly compressed CO2, which extracts the caffeine. The caffeine is then removed from the CO2 using activated carbon filters, which are then reused to extract caffeine from the coffee again.

 

Sparkling Water Process

Similar to the CO2 method. The caffeine is washed from the CO2 with sparkling water in a secondary tank, which is then recycled to extract more caffeine from the coffee. The solvent consists of approximately 99.7% compressed carbon dioxide and 0.3% water.

Decaffeinating coffee is achieved through a variety of processes, which are relatively harmless to your health, but harmful to coffee quality. Almost every process for decaffeination consists of soaking the beans in water to dissolve the caffeine, extracting the caffeine with either a solvent or activated carbon and re-soaking the coffee beans in the decaffeinated water to reabsorb the flavour compounds that were lost in the initial extraction. The solvents mainly used are methylene chloride or ethyl acetate, which both have a low boiling point. Since ethyl acetate is found naturally in fruits you will hear people call this process "natural."  The chemical composition of decaf coffee is altered, and therefore the flavour and aroma are changed.

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