How Is Organic Coffee Decaffeinated? By www.BuyOrganicCoffee.org There are four ways to decaffeinate coffee.
Only one of them is certified organic. Here are the details. Decaffeination Using Solvents There are two methods for removing caffeine
that use solvents. The direct solvent method soaks coffee beans in the solvent and the
indirect solvent method beans are soaked in water and the caffeine rich water is treated
with a solvent. The two commonly used solvents are methylene chloride and ethyl acetate.
Both of these are very volatile chemicals so that whatever minute quantities persist
in the final decaffeinated bean they are removed with roasting and then brewing. Indirect Solvent Method Coffee beans are soaked in hot water (just
under the boiling point) for several hours. This removes caffeine as well as other chemicals
that give coffee its flavor and aroma. Water is drawn off to another container and
the solvent is added. The solvent binds to the caffeine. Then the mixture is heated and
the volatile solvent and caffeine evaporate. Then the beans are added to the remaining
mixture to reabsorb the remaining chemicals restoring part of the flavor of the coffee. Direct Solvent Method In this case the beans are briefly steamed,
about half an hour. Then they are rinsed with the solvent repeatedly for about 10 hours.
The solvent is drained off and the beans are steamed one more time to remove remaining
solvent. Non-Solvent Methods Swiss Water Method Although this way to decaffeinate coffee was
discovered in the 1930’s it took another half century to find a way to make the process
cost effective. Despite the Swiss name the company is based in Vancouver, B.C. This is
the process whose facility has organic certification. Coffee beans are soaked in hot water to remove
caffeine. The water passes through an large-pore activated charcoal filter. The pore size is
such that larger caffeine molecules are trapped and smaller molecules (oils, antioxidants)
pass through. The remaining water contains flavor elements but not caffeine. Then the first batch of beans is discarded!
New beans are then soaked with the flavor rich but caffeine free water. Osmosis takes
caffeine out of the beans until its concentration is the same in the bean and in the water.
But the flavor elements are already equally concentrated in bean and water so they are
not removed. The company tests their product to guarantee that their coffee is 99.95% caffeine
free. Decaf coffee made with this process is always labeled as Swiss Water decaf. CO2 Method This high tech approach to making decaf coffee
is relatively new. Coffee beans are placed in a very strong stainless steel tank. Then
liquid CO2 (carbon dioxide) is introduced until the pressure in the tank is 1,000 pounds
per square inch. Air pressure on the earth’s surface at sea level is 14 pounds per square
inch so the coffee is subjected to a lot of pressure. The carbon dioxide selectively dissolves
caffeine and leaves the other constituents behind. The CO2 is drawn off and allowed to
return to a gas form releasing the caffeine which allows the re-liquefied CO2 to be used
again and again. This is an expensive process that is most
economical on a very large scale. Thus it gets used for processing of huge quantities
of ordinary decaf coffee for grocery stores. For more information about high quality and
organic coffee, visit www.BuyOrganicCoffee.org.