How in the world do you decaffeinate coffee?
If you’re here, we know you love your coffee! Whether you drink five cups per day or are more of a casual frappuccino drinker, you want and expect the best taste in every sip. I know that, as much as I absolutely love the taste of the best Kona coffee, sometimes it’s too late in the day for caffeine! That’s when I turn to decaf. But I was wondering -- what is decaffeinated coffee?
Decaf coffee was discovered accidentally when a ship full of coffee beans was swamped with seawater, rinsing the beans and removing the caffeine!
As you know, all coffee beans naturally contain caffeine, so how does that get removed in order for us to have delicious decaf coffee? There are a few ways to decaffeinate coffee beans. Each method begins with green coffee beans, before they are roasted into the beautifully aromatic coffee beans and grounds that you buy from us.
Decaffeinated beans are hard to roast, so you do run the risk of decaf coffee being less flavorful than regular coffee, but our premium organic Hawaiian Kona coffee is still the best you’ll find anywhere!
For the direct method, to extract the caffeine from coffee beans, you (don’t try this at home!) must first steam your unroasted beans. You then rinse your beans multiple times with a chemical solvent -- typically ethyl acetate or methylene chloride -- in order to wash the caffeine out of the beans.
If you use the indirect method, your beans and the chemicals never touch. Instead, beans are soaked for hours, and then removed from the water, and then the chemical agent is put into the soaking water to suck up all of the caffeine. After that, the beans are put back into this water -- which tastes like coffee beans! -- to soak their flavors and oils right back up.
Now, don’t fear -- ALL of the solvents evaporate during the roasting process, so you have nothing to worry about when you’re enjoying your afternoon or evening cup of joe. I’ll be taking mine with a big slice of chocolate cake!
The main method for decaffeinating organic coffee beans, the Swiss Water Process, doesn’t use any chemicals at all -- it uses only water and carbon filtration. Hot water is used to extract caffeine and flavors from green coffee beans -- “green coffee extract” -- and then this water goes through a carbon filter which catches large caffeine molecules. The next batch of coffee beans is washed and filtered through this water. This method is the best for helping beans keep their flavors.
One last method uses pressurized carbon dioxide to liquefy and dissolve the caffeine inside the soaked coffee beans! This method changes the taste the least of all of the other methods because the structural carbohydrates and proteins inside the beans stay intact.
All of these methods are equally safe! The decaffeination process removes about 97% of caffeine, meaning that decaf coffee has 2 mg of caffeine, compared to the 95 mg of caffeine in a regular cup!