CoffeeNate #28 :: How is Decaf Coffee Made?



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Decaffeinated coffee, something that I rarely punish myself with, but there are those who are unfortunately subjected to this sub-par beverage. Many people cannot properly process caffeine and it effects their heart rate negatively. Admittedly, I haven’t tried very many decaf coffees, but those that I have tried have left me feeling unsatisfied and used. ;) In addition to the less than desirable flavor, most decaffeinated coffee is processed using harsh chemical solvents. BUT, if you are one of the unfortunate ones who must endure the decaf version of coffee, take heart. There is better decaf out there, but you have to search for it. There is a mystic about the decaffeination of coffee. Just how do they remove the caff from the bean?


The most popular method of decaffeinating coffee is a synthetic chemical process where the beans are steamed for 30 minutes to draw the caffeine to the surface of the green coffee bean. Once this has occurred, the beans are washed with a chemical solvent of either Methyl Chloride or Ethyl Acetate. MMmm delicious! These two are used in paint strippers, nail polish remover and glue, not exactly appetizing. After this process the beans are again steamed to ‘remove’ the residual solvent. I’m not sure if they can guarantee that all of the chemical has been removed, and I don’t think I would tend to believe them if they did.

The healthiest method of decaffeinating coffee is called the Swiss Water Method. This method involves no synthetic chemicals, and uses only fresh water. You can check out the pdf (provided by SwissWater.com) to the right that explains the process in detail. The Swiss Water method involves soaking the green coffee beans in water for ten hours. The caffeine and the flavor solids from the beans are diffused into the water. This initial batch of beans are discarded. Then the caffeine is filtered from the remaining liquid, leaving behind the flavor component of the coffee. A fresh batch of beans are soaked in this solution, and since the liquid is saturated with the coffee flavor solids, only the caffeine diffuses into the solution. It’s quite simple, and ingenious! There is only one place in the world that uses this method, and it is located in British Columbia, Canada. Green coffee is shipped to them, treated with their patented process, and then distributed to roasters throughout the world. A complete list of companies that use their service can be found at their website.

swiss water decaf process pdfPin It

Click Image for Full Screen pdf version

 


Video showing the Swiss Water Decaffeination Process


Here’s something I just discovered, the Coffee Beanery sells only Swiss Water Processed decaff for all of their decaffeinated coffees! Buy today and get this great discount as well… Enjoy Free Shipping on All Orders with code: CBValentine

You may also find some excellent decaf coffees at your local roaster! There are some great tasting decaf coffees to be found, but it will take a bit of hunting on your part. Exceptional regular coffee is getting easier to find, but the decafs are still a bit of a challenge. If you’re diligent and determined, you will eventually find the right one for you! Don’t settle for bitter or tasteless coffee, keep looking until you get it right. When you do, please share it with us in the comments section! If you still have questions about anything that I’ve covered, let me know and I’ll gladly get some answers for you! Just click “Ask CoffeeNate” above, or click ‘Contact’ at the top of any page :)

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  • @gerrykirk

    My wife drinks decaf coffee made using the Swiss Water Method. I didn't know what that meant until now so thanks for sharing.

  • http://twitter.com/gerrykirk @gerrykirk

    My wife drinks decaf coffee made using the Swiss Water Method. I didn't know what that meant until now so thanks for sharing.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/nate_s nate_s

      No problem. There are so many things that we take for granted and never give a second thought to. No you know….the rest of the story. :)

  • nate_s

    No problem. There are so many things that we take for granted and never give a second thought to. No you know….the rest of the story. :)

  • Mike Crimmins

    Really the only decaf coffee that I've liked was Marley Coffee's decaf. It was really good and I couldn't taste the difference. Of course, I did then have a sudden urge to fall asleep at my desk after drinking it. I have two more decafs lined up to be reviewed soon, maybe I'll find some more that I like. Maybe.

  • Mike Crimmins

    Really the only decaf coffee that I've liked was Marley Coffee's decaf. It was really good and I couldn't taste the difference. Of course, I did then have a sudden urge to fall asleep at my desk after drinking it. I have two more decafs lined up to be reviewed soon, maybe I'll find some more that I like. Maybe.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/nate_s nate_s

      Thanks for dropping in Mike! I took a lot of heat for doing a video about decaf! It had to be done, there are lots of people that have no choice in the matter. I'm not sure if I'll review some decaf in the future or not, I suppose if someone insisted then I would. Maybe I need to taste more to find a good one? I've had a few and they don't make me want to try more, that's for sure!

  • @gservo

    Decaf is still evil but glad there is better stuff out there, just in case

  • http://twitter.com/gservo @gservo

    Decaf is still evil but glad there is better stuff out there, just in case

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/nate_s nate_s

      Thanks for commenting :) Yeah, I hate it, but some people don't have the luxury of choosing. Perhaps there is good tasting decaf, but I've yet to have it!

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  • nate_s

    Thanks for dropping in Mike! I took a lot of heat for doing a video about decaf! It had to be done, there are lots of people that have no choice in the matter. I'm not sure if I'll review some decaf in the future or not, I suppose if someone insisted then I would. Maybe I need to taste more to find a good one? I've had a few and they don't make me want to try more, that's for sure!

  • nate_s

    Thanks for commenting :) Yeah, I hate it, but some people don't have the luxury of choosing. Perhaps there is good tasting decaf, but I've yet to have it!

  • http://www.twitter.com/simplydab Donna B.

    Decaf *shudder* I knew how it was processed but I didn’t know about the Swiss Water method. Good to know there’s not a chemically treated option out there if I need to go the decaf route. Thanks for sharing :)

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/nate_s nate_s

      I know, decaf isn't the first option for most coffee lovers, but some have no choice. I'm glad to have educated you on the process!

  • Anonymous

    Decaf *shudder* I knew how it was processed but I didn’t know about the Swiss Water method. Good to know there’s not a chemically treated option out there if I need to go the decaf route. Thanks for sharing :)

  • LissaL

    I had no idea how decaf was processed. Your post scared the heck out of me! I either drink decaf or mix it with regular. If I can't find/have coffee made with the Swiss water method, I just might stick to being jumpy!

  • http://twitter.com/LissaL LissaL

    I had no idea how decaf was processed. Your post scared the heck out of me! I either drink decaf or mix it with regular. If I can't find/have coffee made with the Swiss water method, I just might stick to being jumpy!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/nate_s nate_s

      You can find Swiss Water process coffee wherever you live! If not, you can always order from the links that I provide…then I will get a little love too ;) Take care

  • Pat Forrest

    As always Nate, very interesting topic. I also had no idea how decaf. coffee was processed, but it is most definite that the Swiss Water Method is the way to go for anyone who has to drink decaf coffee! Many will thank you for the tip that the Coffee Beanery only sells the Swiss Water Processed decaf. coffee. I always learn something when I go to your coffee blog! Thanks Nate!

  • Pat Forrest

    As always Nate, very interesting topic. I also had no idea how decaf. coffee was processed, but it is most definite that the Swiss Water Method is the way to go for anyone who has to drink decaf coffee! Many will thank you for the tip that the Coffee Beanery only sells the Swiss Water Processed decaf. coffee. I always learn something when I go to your coffee blog! Thanks Nate!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/nate_s nate_s

      Thanks for stopping by Pat, and I'm glad that you found my rant interesting! There are a lot of companies that sell Swiss Water Processed coffee, there is a place on their site to search for them. See you later :)

  • nate_s

    I know, decaf isn't the first option for most coffee lovers, but some have no choice. I'm glad to have educated you on the process!

  • nate_s

    You can find Swiss Water process coffee wherever you live! If not, you can always order from the links that I provide…then I will get a little love too ;) Take care

  • nate_s

    Thanks for stopping by Pat, and I'm glad that you found my rant interesting! There are a lot of companies that sell Swiss Water Processed coffee, there is a place on their site to search for them. See you later :)

  • MrsWheeler

    I drink decaf so I can drink coffee in the afternoon and evening. I don't drink any other caffeine containing beverage, but I love a cup of coffee. My husband works at a book store that has a cafe, so if I go in the mornings, I get regular coffee. I like it with just cream, and with the cream I can't tell much difference in the regular vs. decaf. I figure if I want to continue to drink coffee I must go with decaf after lunch. Thanks for the info!

  • MrsWheeler

    I drink decaf so I can drink coffee in the afternoon and evening. I don't drink any other caffeine containing beverage, but I love a cup of coffee. My husband works at a book store that has a cafe, so if I go in the mornings, I get regular coffee. I like it with just cream, and with the cream I can't tell much difference in the regular vs. decaf. I figure if I want to continue to drink coffee I must go with decaf after lunch. Thanks for the info!

  • Livia

    Hi! Nice blog on your coffee adventures, very informative. I’m working with Green Mountain, and I think you and your readers would like to know that we’re having a great sampling promotion going on. For those of you who live in Dallas, keep an eye out, it ends this Friday 02/19. Tell friends and family! More cities coming up, so blog and tweet about this promotion, but don’t miss it!

  • Livia

    Hi! Nice blog on your coffee adventures, very informative. I’m working with Green Mountain, and I think you and your readers would like to know that we’re having a great sampling promotion going on. For those of you who live in Dallas, keep an eye out, it ends this Friday 02/19. Tell friends and family! More cities coming up, so blog and tweet about this promotion, but don’t miss it!

  • Mark

    Just learned of your website through Twitter – your videos are very informative. Thanks for your great work.

    • http://www.CoffeeNate.com/ Nate

      Thank you Mark! I love to hear from people who find my site helpful :)

    • http://www.CoffeeNate.com/ Nate

      Thank you Mark! I love to hear from people who find my site helpful :)

  • Mark

    Just learned of your website through Twitter – your videos are very informative. Thanks for your great work.

  • Anonymous

    Do you write for a living?

    • http://www.CoffeeNate.com/ Nate

      No, I don’t write for a living. I imagine I would be quite skinny if I did ;)

    • http://www.CoffeeNate.com/ Nate

      No, I don’t write for a living. I imagine I would be quite skinny if I did ;)

  • http://www.ambestcoffee.com/wholesale_services.html Coffee Roasters

    So you’ve maybe heard that decaf coffee is better for you? Maybe
    you’ve heard that decaffeination of coffee uses harsh chemicals? So
    what’s the truth you say? CoffeeNate explains it quickly and simply to
    help you select the best decaf coffee.

  • Dink

    Decaf is like kissing your sister.