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Decaffeinated Coffee Beans

At our last Bibliobites meeting someone mentioned buying decaffeinated coffee beans.

How do they decafinate the whole bean? How does this effect the flavor of the coffee?

1 comment to Decaffeinated Coffee Beans

  • The Coffee Industry uses three primary decaffeination methods. They all begin the same way: the green unroasted coffee beans are moistened with steam and water to soften them, open their pores, and loosen their caffeine bonds. Then one of the following various methods are used:

    The Swiss Water Method:

    This process does not use chemicals and uses high-quality Arabica beans. In this process the first batch of beans is discarded and the water which now holds the coffee flavor extracts and caffeine is filtered through a carbon filter to remove the caffeine. Now you have a caffeine-free extract solution and this extract is used to absorb the caffeine from a new batch of beans. The caffeine in the new batch of coffee beans moves from an area of higher concentration (the bean itself) to an area of lower concentration (the extract). Ninety-four to ninety –six percent of the caffeine has been removed by this process. The final higher quality product does come with a higher price tag. The initial water and steam soak process does strip the beans of the caffeine and flavor extracts.

    The Water Decaffeination Method:

    This water process uses chemicals rather than charcoal filters to extract the caffeine from the “coffee- flavored-charged” extract. The coffee beans only come in contact with the water not the chemical solvents. The result is that the rich aroma and flavors of the coffee are minimally altered.

    The Solvent Method:

    Chemical compounds are used to decaffeinate coffee. Solvents such as methylene chloride and common ethyl acetate are commonly used. This method uses one of the following three processes:

    The Solvent-Touches-the- Bean Method, the Solvent-Never-Touches-the-Bean Method or the “Supercritical” Carbon Dioxide Method.

    Decaffeination processing plants are very expensive to operate. Therefore there are very few of these plants in the world and this is one reason why decaffeinated coffee is more expensive.

    From the book I Love Coffee! Over 100 Easy and Delicious Coffee Drinks by Susan Zimmer, 641.877/Zimm

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