Decaffeinated

Decaf, decaf, decaf...but what is decaf really? And how is it made possible? Let's dive in to explain...

Let's start with the name and origins first. Decaffeination is the name for the process itself. It involves water-logging green unroasted coffee beans, so that the caffeine inside can be made soluble, meaning that it can be dissolved. This can be done in many different ways. The first commercially successful decaffeination method was invented around 1905, by German coffee merchant Ludwig Roselius. The story goes that Roselius received a shipment of coffee beans that was
soaked in seawater. Instead of tossing the beans, Roselius decided to process and test them. He found that the coffee had been stripped of its caffeine content but still basically tasted like coffee, and a bit salty.

Benzene

Roselius then figured out he could use benzene — a chemical that, at the time, was also used in paint strippers and aftershave — as a solvent to remove caffeine from coffee beans (yuck!). His company, Kaffee HAG, was the first to produce instant decaf coffee. The coffee was sold as "Sanka" in the United States by General Foods, and was a mid-20th-century staple.

Benzene is no longer used for decaffeinating coffee because it's a known carcinogen. Instead, companies that use chemical solvents have switched to other substances, predominantly ethyl acetate and methylene chloride, although there has been some controversy about the latter because exposure to high amounts of the substance can be toxic and lead to damage of the central nervous system. The FDA has ruled that minuscule trace amounts of methylene chloride in decaf coffee are not cause for concern, and residues of more than 0.001% are prohibited.

Supercritical Carbon Dioxide

Another method for decaffeinating coffee also originated, somewhat accidentally, in Germany. Chemist Kurt Zosel was working with supercritical carbon dioxide at the Max Planck Institute for Coal Research in Ruhr. Zosel discovered that when the gas is heated and put under a lot of pressure, it enters a supercritical state that can be useful for separating different chemical substances — including separating caffeine from coffee when it's pumped through the beans.
The chemist patented his decaffeination method in 1970; it's still widely used today. According to NPR, crude caffeine can be salvaged during the supercritical carbon dioxide decaffeination process, which is used in sodas, energy drinks and other products.

Swiss Water® Process

Yet another method, dubbed the Swiss Water® Process, was first used commercially in the 1970s. This bean goes through a Swiss Water® Process which uses water from the pristine environment of the coast mountains of British Columbia, Canada to gently remove the caffeine until the coffee beans are 99.9% caffeine-free, while maintaining the bean’s distinctive origin and flavor characteristics. It’s decaffeinated coffee without compromise. Coffee decaffeinated using the environment-friendly Swiss Water® Process undergoes regular caffeine level audits to ensure compliance to 99.9% caffeine-free.

Natural Ethyl Acetate Decaf

La Serranía Decaf is a Natural EA Decaf Coffee, processed at the Descafecol plant in Manizales. The decaffeination process at this plant uses ethyl acetate derived 100% from sugar cane mixed with mountain water, together removing 99.7% of the caffeine present. The beauty of the Natural EA process is that it helps preserve most of the original flavors of the coffee while adding fruity notes and some complexity to the cup. With notes of vanilla, berries, banana and watermelon. It has a soft acidity and a long aftertaste, it's definitely not your regular decaf.

Ethyl Acetate
The process is a gentle one: after a light steaming to open the pores on the surface of the bean, caffeine is removed using ethyl acetate.


Decaf Colombia La Serrania
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Organic Decaf Peru Cajamarca
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Organic Decaf Peru Cajamarca beans goes through a Swiss Water® Process. CENFROCAFE is one of the largest co-operatives in Peru and represents more than 2000 smallholder farmers over 84 networks in the Jaen and San Ignacio provinces in the Department of Cajamarca in Northern Peru. Since their founding in 1999, CENFROCAFE has built an impressive international reputation for quality and community leadership.
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