Decaf Coffee - What is Decaf Coffee

Decaf Coffee or decaffeinated coffee is coffee beans that have been through a series of treatments to produce caffeine-free coffee. As we can find in the dictionary, 'decaffeinated' is an adjective word described as 'with most or all of the caffeine removed'. The process to get decaf coffee called Decaffeination.

Decaffeination is usually done on coffee beans, cocoa, tea leaves and other materials that contain caffeine.
Despite coffee has been through decaffeination, actually it still contain a little bit of caffein. Caffeine remaining in decaf coffee ranging from 0.1% to 3%, depending on which decaffeination standard is applied. If using European Union's standard, the caffeine allowed to remain in decaff coffee is 0.1%. In other words, approximately 99.9% of the caffeine in decaf coffee should be gone to meet European Union standards. Meanwhile, if using International standard, the coffee must lost 97% of its caffeine.
The decaffeination process usually performed on unroasted coffee beans or green bean. Firstly the bean steamed. The next step is rinse the coffee bean with solvent to extract the caffeine but leave other essensial substance in the coffee beans. This step usually repeated from 8 to 12 times depends on the standard that desired. There are several method to get decaf coffee. These methods such as;
  • Roselius process
  • Swiss Water Process
  • Direct method
  • Indirect method
  • CO2 process
The first commercially successful decaffeination is the Rocelius process in 1903. This process involves the steaming coffee beans with a brine (salt water) solution and then using benzene. Benzene is an organic chemical compound which is a colorless liquid and flammable and has a sweet smell. However, this process is no longer used, due to health concerns regarding benzene. Benzene is carcinogenic substances, or cancer triggers.
The Swiss Water Process is decaffeination developed by the Swiss Water Decaffeinated Coffee Company. The process is quite simple and can be performed by a lot of coffee roasters.
The other method, the Direct method sometimes called the 'natural process' because this method uses ethyl acetate that exist in various fruits and vegetables. However, because of the impracticality in finding of ethyl acetate contained in fruits and vegetables, this process typically uses synthetic ethyl acetate.
Meanwhile, the Indirect method involves the evaporation process to separate the caffeine from other materials. The method is also known as the method of 'water-processed', although in practice it still used chemicals.
CO2 process is method known as "Supercritical fluid extraction". The terms "Supercritical fluid" refer to any substance at a temperature and pressure above its 'critical point', where distinct liquid and gas phases do not exist. In this process, caffeine and coffee beans are separated using liquid CO2 at high pressure. This process has the advantage of not using harmful chemicals to get Decaf Coffee or Decaffeinated Coffee.