How is Decaf Coffee Made?

It’s safe to say many coffee lovers have faced a common dilemma – you long for a second (or third; we won’t judge you) cup of coffee but don’t want the extra caffeine. Thankfully for all of us, there’s a variety of decaf coffee options to calm our cravings without the caffeine overload. Let’s look at how decaf coffee is made and which option best suits you.

Solvent-Based Decaffeination vs. Swiss Water Process

There are two main processes for producing decaf coffee: solvent-based decaffeination and the Swiss Water process.

Solvent-Based Decaffeination

Solvent-based decaffeination is the process of using methylene chloride (or Ethyl acetate) to extract the caffeine from the beans. In the process, the beans are first soaked in water, which expands the cells’ structure for easier caffeine removal. Next, the beans are soaked in a methylene chloride solution that strips them of the caffeine. This process is then repeated until about 99% of the caffeine is removed from the beans.  

Swiss Water Process

The Swiss Water process (SWP) is a chemical-free alternative to solvent-based decaffeination. The SWP utilizes osmosis through Swiss water to remove caffeine from coffee beans. In this process, beans are soaked in scalding hot water. During the soaking, caffeine, along with sugars and other coffee solubles that create flavor and aroma in coffee, dissolve into the water. The water is filtered through charcoal to extract the caffeine while retaining the coffee solubles. This charcoal captures the caffeine but lets the other components pass through, creating what is called: Green Coffee Extract.

The extract-infused water is then used to soak green coffee beans that will be roasted for decaf coffee. Because the extract-infused water contains the flavor elements without the caffeine, only the caffeine will be removed from the beans while retaining the flavor.

Benefits of Each Process

Each process used to create decaf coffee has its benefits, so it’s important to discover which option is best for you.

Solvent-Based Decaffeination Benefits

  • Removes up to 99% of the caffeine from beans
  • High temperatures from roasting remove any remaining traces of methylene chloride
  • The end product has great flavor

Swiss Water Process Benefits

  • Removes up to 99.9% of the caffeine from beans
  • Chemical-free and all-natural
  • Eco-friendly

We offer excellent decaf coffee options no matter which process you prefer. Shop our collection of decaf coffees, and go ahead; have that third cup.

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