How Is Coffee Decaffeinated?

If you’re like those of us here at The Roasterie, you enjoy coffee at any time of the day. Unfortunately, our sleeping habits sometime suffer due to the excessive caffeine intake. Luckily for all of us, decaf coffee exists.

Our baristas and tour guides field a variety of questions on a daily basis and often those questions relate to decaf coffee.

As we conduct our free Roasterie tours, host cupping sessions, and inform customers about coffee, we tend to get more questions about decaf. Why should I drink decaf? What is the deal with decaf coffee?

Decaffeination is the process of removing caffeine from not only coffee beans, but also from coca, tea leaves, and other caffeine-containing materials. Despite the removal of caffeine, most decaffeinated drinks still have around 1-2% of the original caffeine remaining in them. Here at The Roasterie, we remove about 99.7% of the caffeine in our decaf blends—and trust us, it’s not an easy process!

Here are five different methods for decaffeinating coffee:

1.      Indirect method

This is the preferred method of decaffeination here at The Roasterie. It is known as “water-processed.” Very similar to the direct method, the indirect method takes coffee beans and soaks them in hot water for a few hours. After removing the beans from the water, a solvent (either dichloromethane or ethyl acetate), is used to extract caffeine from the water. This process is then repeated to the point where the only thing extracted from the beans is caffeine and not flavor.

2.      Swiss water process

In the Swiss water process, green unroasted coffee beans are soaked in hot water, which releases caffeine along with coffee solids. The beans are then discarded and the water is passed through a carbon filter that traps caffeine, but not the coffee solids. The byproduct of this is known as Green Coffee Extract (GCE). New, unroasted beans are added to the GCE and the process is repeated until the beans are caffeine free.

3.      Direct method

In the direct method, coffee beans are steamed for a half hour then repeatedly rinsed with ethyl acetate for 10 hours. Then they are steamed again after draining, to remove any lingering ethyl acetate.

4.      CO2 process

After being steamed, beans are soaked in a bath of supercritical carbon dioxide at high pressure. After roughly 10 hours, the pressure is reduced and the CO2 is passed through filters to remove the caffeine.

5.      Triglyceride Process

Unroasted beans are soaked in a hot water and coffee solution to bring the caffeine to the surface of the beans. Then, the beans are moved to a container that has the oils from used coffee grounds. The triglycerides in the oils remove the caffeine.

Here at The Roasterie we love the taste of decaf coffee and are glad to offer a variety of decaf options to suit all of your tastes! Coffee, although an acquired taste, is delicious in the morning or after dinner—with or without caffeine.