Demystifying The Decaffeination Process & Decaffeinated Coffee
What is Decaffeinated Coffee?
Decaffeinated coffee is aimed at consumers who want to enjoy the taste and aroma of coffee without feeling the effects of caffeine. Decaffeination, does just what the word implies, its a process of eliminating caffeine in beverages such as coffee, tea and sodas. By law, the process must remove 97% of the original amount of caffeine before being sold in the U.S. None of the methods or solvents pose a known human health risk.
The process of producing decaffeinated coffee that makes it a viable part of the coffee drinking culture is characterized by the fact, that when we brew coffee that has been decaffeinated we are still able to get a cup that has not lost any(much) of the coffee flavor or aroma that we would get out of our favorite regular coffee. This is achieved because the decaf process is done prior to roasting, This is the most advantageous and important part of decaf, because as we know its during the roasting, when coffee creates its characteristic flavor and aroma.
The History and Origin of Decaf
The technique has existed since the beginning of the 19th century thanks to a German chemist named Friedrich Ferdinand Runge, who in addition to the decaffeination technique discovered caffeine. The commercialization of decaffeinated coffee had to wait a few decades, to be realized for the first time in 1906. From that time on the process has not changed much, however the demand and consumption of decaffeinated coffee and other beverages has continued to increase and its not expected to decline.
How Is Decaf Coffee Made & How Is Coffee Decaffeinated?
Producing decaffeinated coffee is done on the green coffee, that is to say, before the coffee is roasted. There are two main methods to perform it, the chemical and the natural, both have the same purpose, eliminate 96-99% of the total caffeine. There are two different processing methods used to decaffeinate.
Currently the most used process in the industry is decaffeination by methylene chloride on Arabic coffee (due to its already low caffeine content)
It is a process in which solvents are used. Caffeine is dissolved using selected products that are not harmful to human consumption. The most common is methylene chloride the use of this chemical is possible because it evaporates quit easily, making it possible to remove it almost completely from the coffee making it suitable for consumption. Although there are some studies that timidly indicate that it may increase the likelihood of cancer, the toxicity of this compound to our body is 8 times less than the toxicity of caffeine.
This can be done by soaking the beans directly in the solvent or indirectly. Using this latter technique, the coffee does not come into contact with the chemical being used.
Green coffee beans are steamed to open pores in them and increase in size, then methylene chloride is added to remove caffeine from them. After this, the beans are again cooked, this time in water, to remove the solvent almost completely.
The caffeine is then separated from the solvent for use in the manufacture of drugs, cosmetic creams and soft drinks.
Of course, all coffee beans that have undergone this process will not be able to carry the "decaffeinated naturally" or organic label.
Although its name implies that it is a rudimentary process, it is an expensive chemical process in which facilities of high technology and high price are required. The name "natural" comes from the fact that in this type of decaffeination no solvents or artificial chemical compounds are used, only carbon dioxide and water are necessary.
1. The Swiss Water:
This process works with the concept of osmosis. Caffeine molecules and other components of the coffee flavor move from areas of high concentration to those of lower concentration. In this case, they will move from the coffee beans to the water. An active carbon filter is also used that allows the molecules of other coffee compounds to pass through it by trapping caffeine.
2. The CO2 Process:
This process uses liquefied carbon dioxide gas as the solvent. The uniqueness of CO2 gas is that it only dissolves the caffeine molecules. First, coffee beans soak in water. They are then transferred to a sealed chamber in which liquid CO2 gas is passed at pressures of 1000 Ib / ft2. This force removes caffeine from coffee beans. The caffeine-laden CO2 is then moved to a separate chamber where the pressure is released. This separates the gas from the caffeine compound and is pumped back to be reused. The coffee beans are effectively decaffeinated and ready for further processing.
The process begins the same as the previous one, subjecting the green coffee beans to a steaming. Subsequently, they are subjected to a high-pressure carbon dioxide flow that "naturally" extracts caffeine from the green coffee beans.
The obvious advantages of this method are obvious, does not employ chemical solvents and preserves the qualities of coffee better. In addition, the recycling of caffeine is simpler in this way. Only decaffeinated coffee by this method may carry the organic certification label.
Is decaf coffee really a coffee?
Many people think that drinking decaf coffee is like drinking non alcoholic beer, it loses its grace. This can is true, but it is also true that there are many people who just can not tolerate caffeine or wish not to experience the effects of caffeine at a particular time, but are still craving the flavor of a rich coffee drink. Thanks to decaffeination, everyone can enjoy the taste and aroma of good coffee.
But back to the point of weather or not that when you are drinking a decaffeinated coffee are you having REAL coffee? Well after analyzing these three processes to decaffeinate the coffee bean, we can answer the other question:
Absolutely. Decaffeinated coffee is the same as normal coffee, except that caffeine has been eliminated. We can say that it is an excellent way to enjoy a coffee, without the side effects of consuming too much caffeine.
So next time your looking for your coffee flavor fix, but not the caffeine that comes with it, just sit back and enjoy a cup of rich full and body decaf, don’t worry about losing any sleep over.