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Decaffeinated Coffee

…coffee to make you smile

All you need to know about decaffeinated coffee

Decaffeinated coffee first became commercially available in the very early 20th century.

The Origins and Rising Popularity of Decaffeinated Coffee

The story goes that a shipment of coffee accidentally fell into the sea. Once recovered, it was observed that the beans had lost their caffeine concentration without much difference in taste.

Gradually, decaffeinated coffee has become more popular as people have begun to worry about their caffeine intake, although caffeine sensitivity varies from person to person.

Factors Affecting Caffeine Sensitivity and Decaf Preferences

Factors such as body weight, the type of food consumed and the body’s metabolic rate can all play a part in your tolerance levels, and these can change on a day-to-day basis.

High blood pressure, pregnancy, heart or gastrointestinal issues can all be exacerbated by caffeine, while some medications also don’t interact well with the stimulant.

The amount of caffeine in coffee also depends on the type of coffee and the type of coffee drink.

Variations in Caffeine Content Across Coffee Types

Robusta can contain nearly twice the amount of caffeine as Arabica beans, with light-roast blends tending to be the strongest.

A single shot of generic espresso will contain about 40mg of caffeine, whereas a longer brewed, stronger cup of drip – filter coffee can contain as much as 200mg per cup.

How is decaffeinated coffee made?

There are four main methods, of which one is considered to be the clear winner.

Three of the methods use chemicals, and one doesn’t.

  1. The most common is soaking the beans in water and a natural ether commonly found in pears and apples, known as ethyl acetate.
  2. Regularly used by coffee shops as it has the least impact on the flavour of the beans, this method soaks or steams the beans in water, then coats them in Methylene chloride to speed up the process, as well as to try and maintain some of the other components that can be lost, such as some sugars and proteins. However, research has shown that when drinking coffee decaffeinated, using this method can temporarily slow down the central nervous system, and affect hand-to-eye coordination.
  3. The scientifically named supercritical carbon dioxide method involves soaking the beans in water then exposing them to supercritical CO2 for several hours until the CO2 has evaporated. This method is believed to result in less taste change than other methods.

The Swiss Water Process: A Chemical-Free Alternative

  1. This method is the clear winner. The Swiss Water Process is based solely on water and carbon filtration, so the process is 100% chemical-free. The coffee beans are first immersed in hot water to extract their caffeine and flavourful components. The initial beans are then discarded, and the resulting flavour-rich water (called “green coffee extract”) is passed through a carbon filter that is sized to capture only the large caffeine molecules. The decaffeinated green coffee extract is then used to wash and filter the next batch of beans. So the caffeine is filtered from the beans without using chemical agents and without the beans losing many of their flavourful components.

Decaffeinated beans using the Swiss Water process are certified as both Kosher and Organic. Why not try the amazing Swiss Water Decaf from Christopher Montrose Coffee?

Future of Decaffeination: Natural Decaffeinated Coffee Beans

According to a recently published article in the Guardian newspaper, researchers are making progress in developing arabica coffee varieties that are naturally decaffeinated.

There are links in the comments below to find out more about the Swiss Water Process and the Brazilian research into developing decaffeinated beans.

From Another Point Of View

For the Swiss Water Method, see here Swiss Water Process, and for the Guardian article https://www.theguardian.com/food/2023/jun/17/researchers-one-step-closer-to-growing-decaffeinated-coffee-beans

…coffee to make you smile
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