How do They Make Decaf Coffee, featured image

How do They Make Decaf Coffee?


How do They Make Decaf Coffee: 10 Ways Coffee Companies Create Decaf Coffee

These are the following ways by which coffee companies make decaf coffee:

  • Water decaffeination (non-solvent-based decaf process)
  • Chemical decaffeination (solvent-based decaf process)
  • Carbon dioxide (CO2) decaffeination (non-solvent-based decaf process)

Decaf is just a different type of coffee that has almost no caffeine.

But, just like regular coffee, decaf is still made using coffee beans.

In fact, decaf coffee has become so popular, that coffee companies now offer decaf coffee.

In this article, you’ll learn more about each decaf method and how you can decaffeinate coffee beans at home, DIY style.

 

The 3 Ways By Which Decaf Coffee is Made

These are the 3 primary ways coffee manufacturers to create decaf coffee:

 

1. Water Decaffeination

Water decaffeination is the most popular and the most popular technique for removing caffeine because it’s a natural process.

Soaking green coffee beans in high-pressure water to remove their caffeine helps get your coffee ready for a delicious cup of coffee.

The beans must soak for at least 8 hours in order to make them caffeine-free

Fresh, unroasted coffee beans are then immersed in this caffeine-free coffee extract liquid.

The result is decaffeinated coffee that is dried, re-bagged for roasting, then vacuum sealed for freshness.

There are two types of water decaffeination:

  1. Swiss water decaffeination – This is a patented decaffeination method. Here, the beans are soaked in hot water to eliminate the caffeine, which happens via filtration. There’s no loss of flavor despite the filtration.
  2. French water decaffeination – In this technique, the beans are soaked in hot water for 24 hours. After this, the beans are taken out and dried, while the water is filtered to get rid of any caffeine. The dried beans are then submerged in decaffeinated water so that they might regain their flavor.

Pros of Water Decaffeination: 

  • The original flavor of the coffee beans is retained
  • Completely natural
  • Efficient and cost-effective

Cons of Water Decaffeination: 

  • Might result in a more expensive end product for the consumer (in the case of the Swiss water process)

 

2. Chemical (Solvent-Based) Decaffeination

Solvent decaffeination also known as chemical decaffeination is another widespread method.

In this method, the coffee beans are placed in an organic solvent. The purpose of solvent decaffeination is to separate the caffeine from the coffee beans.

There are two types of solvent caffeine extraction:

  • Direct solvent caffeine extraction – The coffee beans are steamed first and then soaked in the solvent.
  • Indirect solvent caffeine extraction – The beans are soaked in hot water that’s then mixed with the solvent.

The most common solvents used in this technique are the following chemicals:

  • Methylene chloride
  • Ethyl acetate

This process is similar to distillation.

Pros of Solvent/Chemical Decaffeination:

  • Highly effective (up to 99.9% of the caffeine is removed)
  • Relatively quick (completes the decaffeination process in around 10 minutes)

Cons of Solvent/Chemical Decaffeination:

  • Harmful to the environment
  • Can alter the flavor of the coffee

 

3. Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Decaffeination

Another popular method for removing caffeine from coffee is called CO2 extraction.

This is a more selective method that uses carbon dioxide to extract caffeine from the beans.

At high pressure, CO2 literally dissolves the caffeine naturally found in coffee beans.

After the extraction process, the caffeine is isolated and removed.

The coffee industry isn’t the only one using CO2. A number of other industries use carbon dioxide such as the meat industry, the pharmaceutical industry, and the chemical industry.

Pros of CO2 decaffeination:

  • Completely preserves the taste of the coffee beans
  • Environmentally-friendly

Cons of CO2 decaffeination:

  • It’s a very slow process (takes up to 12 hours)

 

How do They Make Decaf Coffee, a woman enjoying a cup of coffee on her kitchet countertop

 

How to Make Decaf Coffee at Home

To make the best decaf coffee at home, you should follow these steps:

What you’ll need:

Decaffeination instructions:

  1. Use a paper filter and put it in a large pot
  2. Put some water in the pot and set it over the stove
  3. Place the coffee in the pot (don’t add any more water)
  4. Cover the pot with a lid
  5. Turn the heat on high
  6. Wait for the water to boil
  7. Once boiling, let it boil for about two minutes
  8. Turn the heat off and take the pot off the stove
  9. Wait until the water is cool enough to handle
  10. After the water has cooled down, take the paper filter out of the pot

Congratulations – you can now make decaf coffee at home!

The key to making decaf coffee at home is to heat the water to roughly 185 degrees F or hotter.

This is the temperature at which the caffeine is extracted from the beans.

And if the water gets too hot, the coffee could start to burn and taste bitter.

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, it’s important to be aware of all the different methods used by coffee companies to create decaf coffee.

Most of them rely on the water decaffeination process, although using solvents and carbon dioxide (CO2) are also very popular options.

However, not all decaf methods are made equal.

It’s a fact that chemicals and solvents are bad for the environment.

Therefore, it’s worth stimulating coffee companies that use environmentally friendly extraction techniques such as water filtration.

Over to you now – what is your favorite method for making decaf coffee?

Let us know in the comments below.

Find out more about coffee, decaf coffee, and coffee brewing in our other unique articles!


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