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Coffee Without Caffeine: Is It Possible?

Today, there are numerous ways how to get caffeine out of coffee. So, yes, it is possible and there is coffee without caffeine. Here we want to talk about the main principles of decaffeination and differences between traditional and Swiss methods of decaffeination.

How was coffee without caffeine discovered?

According to the legend, in the beginning of the 20th century, Ludwig Roselius discovered a method to remove caffeine from coffee. It is not known for sure whether he did it accidentally or on purpose.

Later, he sold the discovered method to an American company. The company used it until they found out that it was harmful for human health. The method considered using harmful for liver benzene, and after decaffeination, some of it stayed in the coffee beans.

Today, there are nearly 200 different ways to do it, but natural decaffeinated coffee is still questionable.

Why is caffeine removed from coffee?

Caffeine is an alkaloid found in coffee, tea, cocoa, and so on. It helps plants to defend against leaf-eating insects and attract pollinators. For animals, caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, enhances cardiac activity, and invigorates the body in general.

Caffeinated coffee in moderate doses helps to cheer you up in the morning. However, for people who have problems with cardiovascular system, pregnant women, and children, caffeine is harmful.

Decaffeination is the process of removing caffeine from green coffee beans. Its main purposes are:

• remove caffeine, but preserve aromatic and flavoring substances;
• prevent leaving in the beans of foreign substances that were used in decaffeination.

During all decaffeination methods, green beans are first soaked in hot (but not boiling) water to open up. The next steps are different: some methods consider using solvents, and some – carbon dioxide or special organic concentrates. Depending on this, coffee quality, taste and aroma will change.

Difference between traditional and Swiss methods of decaffeination

Here we want to compare the traditional and Swiss methods. The first one requires using a solvent, while the second – only water and a regular carbon filter.

Traditional method of decaffeination

The traditional method, that is also called conventional or direct, is the most widespread way of decaffeination.

Decaffeination in traditional method occurs the following way.

First, coffee is treated with hot steam for 30 minutes.

Then, they are kept in methylene chloride or ethyl acetate (solvents that remove caffeine from the beans) for 10 hours. Ethyl acetate is made from fruit or cane sugar, so decaffeination with it is considered natural. Ethyl acetate decaffeination removes 99.9% of the caffeine from coffee while preserving the flavor.

Finally, the solvents are removed from the coffee beans and kept for another 10 hours to remove the residues

Swiss method of decaffeination

Swiss method is a complex, expensive, but at the same time the most environmentally friendly way to decaffeinate coffee.

First, coffee makers prepare Green Coffee Extract, GCE. To do this, the first batch of coffee is soaked in water. So, all substances, including caffeine, gradually pass from the beans into the water. The extract is then filtered through a carbon filter system. Due to the fact that the caffeine molecules are the largest, they are retained in the filter. So, the flavoring substances pass through the filter and remain in the extract. The result is an extract that is rich in flavoring elements of the coffee bean, but does not contain caffeine.

Then, the next batch of beans is soaked in the prepared extract. When the bean enters the extract, its substances begin to strive for balance. Due to the fact that both the beans and the extract have the same amount of flavoring substances, they do not go anywhere. Because there is caffeine in the bean and not in the extract, it passes from the bean into the extract. As a result, the caffeine from the beans is transferred to the extract to restore balance. At the same time, the flavor and aroma elements remain in them.

But it is not possible to remove all the caffeine from the beans in one steeping. To solve it, after soaking, the extract is filtered from caffeine through carbon filters again. The beans are then soaked in the extract several times until caffeine content equals 0.01%.

However, it is cheaper to use solvents for decaffeination, that’s why such coffee costs less. Coffee that has been decaffeinated using the Swiss method is more expensive. However, its taste and quality is better.

Mr. Viet Coffee

Mr. Viet produces real Vietnamese coffee. Our coffee beans are expertly roasted in Dalat region, Vietnam. We carefully select and control coffee roasting in order to get tasty and balanced coffee. We produce it in accordance with all the traditions of Vietnam.

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27.08.2021

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