There is nothing quite like waking up to a fresh cup of coffee. But what about those who want to savor the rich flavors without the caffeine?
Decaffeinated coffee is often viewed as being flavorless or dull, but it doesn’t have to be that way. At Florin, we believe you should be able to enjoy coffee that tastes as good as it smells. That includes our decaf. Decaf can be just as flavorful as fully caffeinated coffee and it all comes down to the expertise of the coffee roaster and the process that the coffee is decaffeinated by.
Decaffeination is a process that extracts caffeine from coffee beans, leaving behind the delightful taste we all know and love. There are several methods to achieve this, each with its own unique charm. Let’s dive into each one!
Coffee is made up of about 1,000 chemical components. These all contribute to its taste, making it very hard to extract the caffeine without impacting the taste. Water is used in all decaffeination methods, but if it’s used without some other decaffeinating agent, it can remove some of the soluble substances from the beans, like the proteins and sugars, changing the taste of the coffee.
So, it’s easier to remove caffeine with the help of some kind of solvent. Solvents like ethyl acetate or methylene chloride are used to dissolve and remove caffeine from the beans. There are two types of solvent-based processes: direct and indirect.
Using this method, the coffee beans are steamed for a half-hour to prepare them for caffeine extraction. After that, they’re rinsed with either methylene chloride or ethyl acetate for close to 10 hours. The solvent is drained away and residual solvent is removed by steaming the beans for a second time.
The solvent of choice in this method is typically ethyl acetate, so you’ll often see it referred to as “Natural Decaffeination Method" or "Natural Decaf" or "Sugar Cane EA Decaf.”
In this method, the beans are soaked in boiling water for a few hours. The water collects the flavor and oil from the beans. Then, the beans are drained and washed for about 10 hours with either methylene chloride or ethyl acetate, which bonds with the caffeine molecules and removes them from the coffee.The rest of the mixture is heated to evaporate the solvent and caffeine. The beans are then mixed into the water to reabsorb the coffee oils and flavor components. This method is popular in Europe, earning the name “The European Method” or “Euro Prep.”
Carbon Dioxide (CO2 Method)
Using liquid CO2, this method involves pressurizing the gas to create a supercritical state, allowing it to remove caffeine. It's a more natural process with minimal impact on the coffee's taste, but it requires special equipment.
Swiss Water Process
Now, let’s dive into the Swiss Water Process. This method is what we use at Florin. It stands out for its chemical-free approach. No solvents or harsh chemicals are involved, making it a favorite among those seeking a more natural decaffeination method. Originating in Switzerland, this process is all about using water and time to remove the caffeine from the coffee beans.
It all begins with a batch of green (unroasted) coffee beans soaked in pure water. This water, saturated with coffee flavors but free of caffeine, is known as "flavor-charged water." The magic happens when this flavor-charged water comes into contact with fresh coffee beans. Since the beans already have their flavor locked in, only the caffeine migrates from the beans to the water. This process is repeated until the beans are 99.9% caffeine-free, leaving them infused with their natural flavors.
The Swiss Water Process is often associated with organic and fair trade coffee. Given all of the decaffeination methods, the Swiss Water Process is the most pure and offers the most flavor preservation which is why we use it at Florin.
So, the next time you enjoy a cup of decaf, you can appreciate the amount of water and time that went into creating it!