A friend of mine recently told me that she would love to see a blog post about decaffeinated coffee. She was curious as to what is decaffeinated coffee and it’s characteristics. I thought this shouldn’t be that hard since decaf is just coffee with the caffeine removed, right? It was when I was doing the research for this post that I came across a lot of interesting things – some of which I would never have even thought about.
Decaffeinated coffee makes up about 12% of the total worldwide coffee consumption. A natural question is why people drink decaffeinated coffee? For some it might be the taste and for others it might be a solution for those who love their coffee but need to avoid caffeine consumption. Caffeine can have some negative effects such as insomnia, nervousness, anxiety and increased heart rate. So while some people can drink coffee just before bedtime and have no trouble sleeping, others might experience insomnia from drinking coffee shortly before they sleep. So decaffeinated coffee would be an ideal solution for the second group of people.
What is Decaffeinated Coffee? It Isn’t Completely Caffeine Free.
Remember my first thought about decaffeinated coffee? It’s just coffee with the caffeine removed. That is true to a certain extent. By definition, decaffeinated coffee is coffee from coffee beans that have had at least 97% of their caffeine removed.
So decaf is not completely caffeine free, however the amount of caffeine per cup is very small as compared to the same cup that contains regular coffee. The beans are decaffeinated before they are roasted and ground.
So let’s look at the process of making decaffeinated coffee.
How is Decaffeinated Coffee Made?
There are four different ways that coffee can be decaffeinated. Two of the methods involve using solvents. One method uses carbon dioxide and one method with water.
The solvent methods can be broken down into the direct method and indirect method.
1) Direct Method
In the direct method, the coffee beans are steamed for thirty minutes and then washed over many hours with the liquid solvent ethyl acetate or methylene chloride. The solvent is a substance that extracts the caffeine. The beans are then taken out and steamed again to remove any left over solvent and caffeine.
2) Indirect Method
In the indirect method, the coffee beans are soaked for many hours in hot water. This process not only removes the caffeine from the beans but also the oils and the flavours. The beans are removed from the water and the solvent is added to the water extracting the caffeine. The solvent mixture is then heated to evaporate the solvent and caffeine.
The beans are now placed back into the remaining liquid so that they can reabsorb most of the coffee oils and flavours.
3) Carbon Dioxide Method
The beans are soaked in hot water in order to open their pores and mobilize the caffeine molecule. Carbon dioxide is then added to the water extracting the caffeine molecules and removing them from the beans. This method is mostly used for larger-batch processing because there is a higher start-up cost.
4) Swiss Water Method
This method again starts with the coffee beans being soaked for many hours in hot water, removing the caffeine along with the oil and flavour molecules. The oil and flavour molecules need to be reabsorbed from the water without absorbing the caffeine. To do this, the water is passed through a charcoal filter with holes designed to capture the larger caffeine molecules while allowing the smaller flavour molecules to pass through and remain in the water. The beans are then returned to the filtered water to reabsorb the flavour before processing is continued.
Is Decaffeinated Coffee Healthy For You?
Whether decaffeinted coffee is good for you has become a question asked by a lot of people because of the solvents used in the past to make the decaffeinted coffee. Doctor’s were concerned that people who were drinking decaffeinated coffee were absorbing these substances into the their bodies.
The good news is that the decaffeination process has significantly improved from the past and decaffeinated coffee has become safer to drink. The easiest way to tell if the decaffeinated coffee is healthy is to look at the label. If the label indicates that it’s a naturally decaffeinated coffee then you can be rest assured that no chemical substances were used in the decaffeination process.
Decaffeinated coffee is a great alternative for those people who love coffee but need to watch their caffeine intake. Despite concerns in the past about the health benefits of decaffeinated coffee, the decaffeination process has been improved so that the coffee is decaffeinated naturally.
I hope you found this post about decaffeinated coffee helpful and I hope that I was able to answer a lot of your questions. Do you enjoy decaffeinated coffee or are you a regular coffee drinker? If so, how often do you drink decaffeinated coffee? I would love to hear your thoughts or comments below.