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All of us are familiar with decaf coffee, but very few know what decaf coffee actually is. Below we will explain the basics and processes that bring you your decaf coffee:

The Basics

Coffee in its natural state always has caffeine; the caffeine, therefore must be removed. For any decaffeinating process used, coffee is left in it’s green, unroasted state; the hardest part of this process is the difficulty in moving other chemicals of the coffee’s composition. Today, there are a few decaffeinating methods used that can be grouped into two categories: Solvent-based and non-solvent based processes.

Solvent-Based Processes: Direct and Indirect

For both solvent-based processes, they both, as they suggest, use a solvent: Methylene chloride or ethyl acetate. In both processes, the beans are steamed to open their pores.

The direct method soaks the beans directly in the chemical and removes the caffeine that way. Beans are then steamed again after being removed from the solvent bath, to remove any residual solvent.

In the indirect-solvent process, the beans are steamed and then soaked in boiling water. After 10 hours, the water is removed and treated with the solvent. Once it has been treated, the beans are rinsed repeatedly with the solvent, and then put back into the water to absorb the oils and flavor lost in the water.

Non-Solvent Based Process: Swiss Process

The Swiss Process, which originated in Switzerland in 1933, does not use any chemicals, but instead uses the natural processes of osmosis and solubility to remove the caffeine. The first step in this process is to boil a batch of beans. The water, which is full of caffeine and flavor is then run through an activated charcoal filter to remove the caffeine. The beans that were used in this process are discarded, because, though they have no caffeine in them, they also have no flavor in them as well.

When the next batch of beans are ready for decaffeinating, they are submerged in the filtered and flavor-rich water. Because the water is saturated with flavor molecules, but deficient in caffeine, the caffeine molecules will leave the bean, but the flavor will be retained.


Why is the process of decaffeination important? We believe natural coffee should be completely natural, and, in our opinion, solvent-based methods of decaffeination isn’t for us. That is why we use only the Swiss Water Process for decaffeination, as it uses a natural process that retains more flavor than other methods without unnecessary chemicals.


Shop our Swiss Water Process decaf coffee!