As we know, coffee beans which are the seeds from a fruit of a tree, are naturally caffeinated. For centuries, coffee has been used for its invigorating qualities. We get asked a lot about decaf, what is the difference, how do they decaffeinate it, and we thought this blog would help give you all the answers to your questions.
To best understand decaf, let’s start with regular coffee. There’s always stories in the papers about ‘strong’ coffee, and who has the strongest coffee, but strength of flavour and caffeine content are mutually exclusive; strength is brew concentration and caffeine content of coarse is related to how much coffee you use, but the stronger the ‘taste’ of coffee does not mean it’s packed full of caffeine. We can give you a delicious decaf coffee, and you would not know.
We have never done caffeine level testing, but recently we did for a customer who was inquiring to the content of their coffee. We found the information really interesting, and started to conduct our own test to see what impacted the level; roast level, grind size, brew time etc.
In the past, it was thought that lighter roasts maintain slightly more caffeine than darker roasts, but now most people believe that caffeine is pretty stable throughout the roasting process and differences in caffeine most often come down to brewing.
For example, coffee made in a cafetière —where the grounds continue steeping in water after the primary brewing cycle is finished—will have more caffeine than a small espresso shot, although the shot of espresso is more concentrated.
On average, coffee has about 95 mg of caffeine per 250ml.
It is possible however, to remove the naturally occurring caffeine from coffee beans. The process is known as decaffeination. There are several ways to do this; the most well known is the water method (Swiss Water or Mexican Water) and the EA (Ethyl Acetate) method.
Once decaffeinated, there is still around 3% caffeine left within the coffee bean. In countries like the Netherlands, they sell low caffeine coffees which are grown at high altitudes and will naturally have less caffeine than lower grown coffees.
Our decaf coffee, Mellow, is a tasty caffeine free alternative to our Momentum Espresso Blend. We use a Swiss Water Colombian coffee for this decaf, and we are finding sales each year growing as more people are wanting the coffee flavour, but without the caffeine content.
How do you remove the caffeine from coffee?
In the Swiss Water Process, un-roasted or “green” coffee beans are washed and hydrated in pure, local water and then introduced to what is known as green coffee extract or GCE. The caffeine then ventures out on its own, away from the coffee beans and into the GCE and then the caffeine gets trapped in carbon filters and is separated from the GCE.
Is decaf coffee or regular coffee better for you?
Findings have been contradictory as to whether or not coffee has any specific health benefits, and results are similarly conflicting regarding the potentially harmful effects of coffee consumption. This goes for decaf coffee, as well. Too much caffeine consumption can lead to elevated heart rate, anxiety, depression, and difficulty sleeping at night. However, caffeine also has benefits including boosting energy levels and lowering fatigue.
At the end of the day, we believe that decaf coffees deserve to be just as enjoyable as regular coffee, especially because decaf drinkers are more than anything drinking coffee for its flavour. We hope you enjoy our decaf coffees as much as any of our other offerings.