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The Truth About Decaf Coffee

March 01, 2019

Did you know that not all decaf coffee is decaffeinated through the same process? Coffee beans are naturally caffeinated, but through a couple of different methods, the majority of the caffeine can be removed to produce decaf coffee. Yes, we said the majority of the caffeine. Although the decaffeination methods remove about 94 to 98% of caffeine, there is still minimal amounts of caffeine left in decaf coffee.

There are two main methods of decaffeination, a solvent-based process, and a non-solvent based process. The solvent-based process is very common amongst those processing large amounts of coffee beans. Solvent-based decaffeination is done by soaking coffee beans in a chemical solvent that usually contains methylene chloride or ethyl acetate. The beans soak for about 10 hours in the chemical solution to remove most traces of caffeine. Once the coffee beans have soaked, the solvent is drained off, and the beans are steamed to remove any chemical residue.

The second method, the method we use, does not involve any chemicals or solvents. Known as the Swiss Water Process, this chemical-free water decaffeination process was pioneered in 1933 and was later developed into a commercially viable method in 1980. The water decaffeination process relies on solubility and osmosis rather than chemicals to extract the caffeine from the beans. The process starts with soaking the coffee beans in hot water which helps to dissolve the caffeine. Once the beans have soaked, the water is drained and filtered through an activated charcoal filter. The porosity of the charcoal filter allows for the oil and flavor molecules to pass through while capturing the larger caffeine molecules. This filtration process leaves us with a tank full of flavorless caffeine-free beans along with a second tank full of flavorful water that contains all the oil and flavor molecules. We get rid of those flavorless beans and start the process over again, but this time with the water from the coffee beans we soaked and filtered. This is the part of the process where osmosis takes over. Since the water is full of the flavor and oils from the previously soaked beans, those same flavors and oils can't dissolve out of the new beans, only the caffeine can soak out. This leaves us with a batch of delicious, organic decaf coffee full of flavor!

Our organic decaf Kenyan coffee is both Fair Trade & USDA Organic certified which means that the coffee guarantees farmers a fair price, fair labor conditions, and environmentally sustainable farming that protect farmer's health and preserve our valuable ecosystems. Visit Growers Alliance Cafe or order online to experience our rich and smooth decaf Kenyan coffee for yourself!




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