How do I get the best decaf coffee beans?
In order to get the best quality decaf coffee beans, you need a few things. First of all it’s important that they are organic and free trade so your taste buds can enjoy them too without being buzzed from caffeine! And if we're talking sustainability then make sure these delicious sips have been grown sustainably, which means when you buy decaf coffee, you choose a product that is certified as sustainably grown.
The caffeine in coffee beans is a soluble substance that can be removed using water. Different processes use different chemicals and/or organic elements to remove the caffeine compound from green (unroasted) unprocessed coffee beans, but some involve chemicals and some do not.
The Swiss Water Process is the cleanest and most natural way to make decaf coffee beans. But we will explain other methods so you can decide what's best for your needs!
Important processes to know when you buy decaf coffee
Solvent Based Decaffeination
This technique has been around for many years and was first used by tea and coffee producers in India to remove caffeine from their coffee beans. Basically, the process involves soaking them in a liquid made from water and solvents like ethyl acetate before gradually removing all of their caffeine over time.
All solvent-based processes use a decaffeinating agent. These agents help speed up the process and minimize "washed out" effects that water alone would have on the taste of coffee if using this process.
The solvent-based decaffeination process starts by adding boiling water to caffeine-rich green beans. Next they use solvents like ethyl acetate or benzene and let this mixture boil for 10 hours then finally washing the beans through an absorption stage using hot water so that large molecules don't get trapped during filtration.
The beans are then re-steeped in the (caffeine and solvent agent removed) solution which contains all of the aromatic minerals, but no caffeine. The aromatics are reabsorbed by the beans and the beans are no considered decaffeinated.
Solvents that are used to extract flavors from coffee beans include methylene chloride, ethyl acetate. Ethanol is the best natural solvent as it's naturally occurring in ripening fruit; and coffee processed by this method can be branded " Naturally Decaffeinated." Solvents today have been proven safe but are still chemical laden.
The Swiss Water Process
The Swiss Water Process has been the gold standard for decaffeinating organic beans since it was first developed. This method relies solely on solubility and osmosis, so there are no added chemicals or compounds in this process.
We at Kimberley Coffee Company always prefer beans from this technique over anything else because we know how much care goes into selecting only quality coffees that will be processed without chemicals through the natural Swiss Water Process.
The soaking process begins by boiling the beans in very hot water. The caffeine is then extracted and the water passed through a carbon filter, producing an aromatic solution drenched with coffee oils and desirable molecules, but leaving the larger caffeine molecules behind.
This rich solution is saturated with flavour and now used to soak NEW green beans. Being fully saturated it cannot draw any more desirable aromatics from the new green beans, only the large caffeine molecules which bind to the carbon filter and are discarded, leaving a flavoursome, perfectly decaffeinated coffee bean.
The process of decaffeinating using water-based methods is much healthier and closer to natural flavor retention. It's also a great option for people who want their coffee in the morning without any nasty chemicals!
But how does Swiss Water Process decaf coffee it taste?
We have found that the Swiss Water Process gives us an amazing result in the flavor department because it does not need to actually leave the coffee bean, only the caffeine is extracted. We also love how no additional solvents (even those natural compounds) are used during this process, which makes our product a 100% pre coffee bean.
Some people find that decaf tastes better than its caffeinated cousin. This is because caffeine only has one dimension of taste (bitter), while other flavors like acids come from sugar or proteins found in the raw coffee beans.
The Alnair Swiss Water Decaf Organic Fairtrade Organic Blend
Try our star decaf blend next time you make an online order with us. The Alnair Swiss Water Organic Fairtrade Blend. This multiple box ticking blend was named, like all our star coffees, by Astro Tours Legend, Greg Quicke, after a star found in the Kimberley skies. Alnair is the brightest star in the southern constellation Grus. Its first depiction in a celestial atlas was in Johann Bayer's Uranometria of 1603. We have 250g, 500g or 1 kilo packs are roasted as you order and sent within days of roasting.