Decaffeinated Coffee

Decaffeinated Coffee

Decaffeinated coffee is great for coffee drinkers who are on a caffeine restricted diet, or who just do not appreciate the jolt they get from caffeinated coffee, but still want a cup of Joe.  But how do coffee manufacturers get the caffeine out of the coffee?  The process is an interesting one.

Today, most coffees are made into decaffeinated coffees by the water extraction process.  This process starts by soaking raw coffee beans in hot or boiling water for a specific period of time.  This process takes extracts the caffeine out of the coffee beans.  Then the coffee beans and soaking liquid are passed through a carbon filter to remove the caffeine from the liquid.  The decaffeinated liquid is then added to the coffee beans again so that the flavors and oils can be reabsorbed into the coffee beans.  This process allows for the extraction of caffeine without removing the distinct coffee flavors.

Another process for decaffeinating coffee is called the “Swiss Water Process”.  This process is similar to the water decaffeination process, only a coffee flavored solution is used in place of the water.  This allows for a more robust coffee flavored finished product.  While some manufacturers use chemicals to extract the caffeine from coffee beans, most high quality decaffeinated coffees are created using the water or Swiss Water processes.

While, no matter what process is used, 100% of the caffeine is never fully removed from the coffee beans, US mandates state that caffeine levels cannot be more than 2.5 percent of the final product.  This means that even decaffeinated coffee of the highest quality is not completely free of caffeine.  However, the amount of caffeine left in the final product is so little that if drank in moderation, the stimulating effects of regular coffee should not be felt.

If you are worried that the decaffeinated coffee you are drinking will have a bitter aftertaste or will not taste like the coffee you are used to, do not despair.  There are decaffeinated coffees available on the market that taste and smell so much like the real thing that unless someone tells you, you probably won’t know it’s decaf.  Now, there are some cheaper brands of decaffeinated coffees that can taste less than desirable.  But if you start with finding a quality coffee, you won’t be disappointed with the taste.  The key to a great cup of decaffeinated coffee is to not only begin with the highest quality coffee you can find, but the grinding and brewing method are just as important.  Perhaps the most important part of this process is to grind the freshest beans you can find.  Using a coffee press allows for the extraction of more flavorful oils than drip makers or percolators, but percolators can produce a nice cup of coffee. Once your coffee has been perfectly brewed, you can then add fresh milk, cream or your favorite coffee flavor and you can enjoy a great cup of coffee without the adverse side effects of regular coffee.