How is coffee decaffeinated???

Good coffee isn’t just about the caffeine, it’s about the taste, the process and the routine. Knowing (how) your coffee goes from farm to cup shapes your experience, whether you go for a caffeine hit or not. But how do they make decaf coffee, and what are the different methods?

Without blowing your mind, Let’s take a closer look shall we…

What is Decaf Coffee?

Basically, decaf coffee means it’s got hardly any caffeine left. Although there’s still a tiny bit, usually about 97-99% of it is removed during processing.

The History of Decaf

Ludwig Roselius is the guy often credited with making decaf coffee commercially successful, although people were doing experiments with it before the early 1900s. He noticed that coffee that had been soaked in seawater on ships had less caffeine but still tasted good. So, he figured out a way to steam the beans with acids and then remove the caffeine with a solvent. It's not how they do it nowadays, but it got the ball rolling.

Three Common Decaffeination Methods

CO2 Processing: This method involves soaking unroasted coffee beans in warm, pressurised water to open them up. Carbon molecules are then added to bond with the caffeine molecules. After that, the water and carbon dioxide are removed, and the coffee is dried.

Sugarcane Process: Also called 'Natural Decaf', this method uses Ethyl Acetate (EA) from fermented sugarcane. The beans are steamed, rinsed with an EA and water solution, then rinsed again to remove caffeine and any leftovers. It keeps the coffee's original flavours while adding fruity notes.

Swiss Water Method: This innovative process uses Green Coffee Extract (GCE) to remove caffeine. The coffee is soaked in warm water with GCE, filtered, dried, and then the GCE solution with the caffeine is filtered again. It’s chemical-free and keeps the coffee tasting like coffee.

Broadways Approach to Decaf: We're always on the lookout for decent coffee whether it's for espresso or filter methods, so teaming up with our suppliers is key to finding the right decaf for our customers. We've tried a Swiss water process Peruvian single origin and a Colombian sugar cane process single origin, both of which really impressed me with their balanced flavours and complexities. When customers ask about my favourite coffee, I always mention our decaf because of its interesting backstory, history, and how it's evolved over time to be what it is today.