Chemists have identified
several hundred chemicals in coffee. Removing caffeine without ruining the
flavor balance of all the other chemicals isn't easy.
offer nearly all of our regular coffee varieties in decaf. Our
decaffeinated coffees have flavor and body so rich that even expert cuppers
find it difficult to detect the difference.
So how do they do
it? Caffeine is removed from the green coffee beans before they are
roasted. First they are steamed, which brings most of the caffeine up to the
surface, and then the caffeine is removed by washing with a solvent, which
absorbs the caffeine. To be called "decaffeinated", a coffee must have more
than 97 percent of its caffeine removed. Methylene chloride or ethyl acetate
(an organic solvent) are typically used to remove the caffeine, while preserving
the delicate oils which give coffee its aroma and flavor. Coffee is decaffeinated
at decaffeination plants located primarily in Germany and Vancouver, British
Columbia. There are two different decaffeination methods: direct and indirect.
The Direct Method
In the direct method, the beans are first steamed or soaked in water. Then
a solvent solution is mixed directly with the beans to remove the caffeine.
After the beans are air dried, they are ready for roasting.
The Indirect Method
In the indirect method, sometimes called the "water method", the caffeine
- together with many desireable flavor and aroma components - is first extracted
into water by soaking the green coffee beans. The resulting solution is drained
off, and the caffeine is removed from the water using an either a solvent
or a filtration process. The now caffeine-free solution, with all the remaining
desireable flavor components is returned to the beans and dried on to them.
The solvent itself never touches the beans, hence the name "indirect". Many
processes employ this "indirect" technique. We offer quality beans
that have been decaffeinated in the following ways.
Swiss Water Process
In this indirect method, coffee beans are thoroughly soaked in water. The
caffeine-rich water is then passed through activated charcoal filters to remove
the caffeine. The decaffeinated beans are then soaked again in coffee oils
and caramels to replace the rich bean flavor. Our decafs employing
this method are designated "SWP" in the description.
German Water Process
This indirect method extracts the caffeine differently than the Swiss process.
The caffeine-rich water is drawn off and chemically treated with a solvent
to remove the caffeine. The decaffeinated beans are then soaked again in coffee
oils and caramels to replace the rich bean flavor. Unless specified, this
is the method the majority of our decafs use.
Natural Coffee Oil
Process This indirect method removes caffeine by bathing the coffee
beans in natural coffee oils, which are then drawn off and decaffeinated.
Did you know?
The German decaffeination process is so complete that the purified caffeine
is sold to cola companies.
Since the turn of the
century when a German chemist named Ludwig Roselius lost a lot of sleep over
how to remove the caffeine from coffee, methylene chloride has been the solvent
of choice. It dissolves other components minimally and vaporizes easily, so
it's remaining traces can be driven off by heat. But in the 1980s, methylene
chloride came under fire as a carcinogen. It is still used for decaffeinating,
but the FDA limits its amount in the finished product to 10 parts per million.
Industry sources point out that the actual trace amount is typically less
than a hundredth of that.
of Coffee and Espresso