How Decaf Coffee Is Made And How Much Caffeine It Has

Decaf or decaffeinated coffee has 97% of the caffeine content removed, but it still has caffeine in it.

While there is a very less percentage of people, who love decaf coffee mainly because they sensitive to caffeine or they consider it good for their health.

So, is it possible to remove caffeine from coffee? At home?

decaf coffee

Well, keep reading, and I’ll explain you how.

Make Decaf Coffee At Home

As a rough estimate, a 12 oz. cup of decaffeinated coffee contains only 5.4mg of caffeine content which originally would be 180 mg.

Nowadays, there are four different methods used for decaffeination:

Solvent Based

  • Direct solvent
  • Indirect-solvent process.

Non-Solvent Based

  • Swiss water process.
  • Carbon dioxide process.

Let us learn how we can decaffeinate coffee at home using one of these four methods.

decaf coffee

1. Direct Solvent Process

In this process, coffee beans are firstly steamed for 30 minutes. This opens up their pores. When the beans are in stimuli with the solvent, they are rinsed with methylene chloride or ethyl acetate for more than 10 hours. This helps remove the caffeine. The caffeine-laden solvent is finally drained, and the beans are once again steamed to remove residue.

Most commonly, ethyl acetate is used in the direct solvent process.

2. Indirect Solvent Process

In the indirect solvent process, the beans are soaked in boiling water for several hours. This not only opens up their pores, but it also extracts caffeine, oils and other flavor elements.

This water is separated and transferred to another tank. Here, the beans are washed for approx. 10 hours with methylene chloride or ethyl acetate. The molecules of this solvent bond with molecules of caffeine. Finally, this mixture is heated to evaporate all the solvent and caffeine.

Beans are again re-soaked into the liquid to absorb coffee oils and flavor elements.

decaf coffee

3. Swiss Water Process

This process doesn’t use any chemicals, instead, relies on solubility and osmosis. Here, a batch of coffee beans is soaked in hot water which dissolves the caffeine. This water is then is drawn off and passed through activated charcoal. This filter only grabs large caffeine molecules while allowing smaller oil and flavor molecules to pass through. Result – Beans with no caffeine and no flavor in one tank while caffeine free flavor-charged water in another tank.

Finally, the flavorless caffeine free bens are discarded, and flavor-rich water is reused to remove caffeine from a fresh batch of coffee beans. Sounds confusing…? Huh!

As a result of this, only caffeine moves out of the new batch of beans while the flavor and oils remain inside.

This method is environment-friendly!

decaf coffee

4. Carbon Dioxide Process

It is a new method introduced by Kurt Zosel who is a scientist of Max Plank Institute. This method uses carbon dioxide instead of chemical solvents but acts selectively on caffeine i-e it releases alkaloid only.

Here the water soaked beans are firstly placed in a stainless steel container known as extraction vessel. This vessel is then sealed, and liquid carbon dioxide is forced into the coffee at 1,000-pounds pressure per square inch. This extracts the caffeine. During the method, large molecule flavor components are left behind while caffeine laden carbon dioxide is transferred to a new container called absorption chamber. Here, the pressure is released, and carbon dioxide converts to gaseous state while leaving the caffeine behind.

The caffeine-free carbon dioxide gas is pumped back into a pressurized container for reuse.

This method is commonly used to decaffeinate large quantities of commercial grade and less-exotic coffee beans.

After decaffeinating the beans using one of these methods, the final step is to brew your coffee and enjoy the aroma and freshness of decaf.

Let us know about your experience.

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