Decaf – Ever Wondered How It’s Done?
Sometimes you want to enjoy a cup of coffee before night falls. Caffeine, however, is known to prevent most (not all!) people from falling asleep. The solution of course is decaffeinated coffee, or decaf as we like to call it. We know it exists, we know it is often as tasty as the caffeinated one. However, how is it done?
Now, the first person to hit upon a practical decaffeination method was Ludwig Roselius, the head of the German coffee company Kaffee. Roselius discovered the secret to decaffeination by accident around 1900 when a shipment of coffee had been swamped by seawater in transit. In essence, the caffeine but not the flavour had been “sucked” out by the sea water. Roselius, being German, worked out an industrial method to repeat it by steaming the coffee beans with various acids before using the solvent benzene to remove the caffeine. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Zoom forward to 2019, and you realise that little has changed in terms of approach. However, the process is and remains very complex with four preferred techniques having emerged ever since: 1) the Indirect–Solvent Based Process; 2) the Direct–Solvent Based Process; 3) the Swiss Water Process; and 4) the CO2 process.
Moving Beans uses the Swiss Water Process, which is a chemical-free water decaffeination process that was pioneered in Switzerland in 1933. This particular method of decaffeination is different in that it does not directly or indirectly add chemicals to extract the caffeine. It rather relies entirely on two concepts to decaffeinate coffee beans: solubility and osmosis.
It begins by soaking a batch of beans in very hot water in order to dissolve the caffeine. The water is then drawn off and passed through an activated charcoal filter. The porosity of this filter is sized to only capture larger caffeine molecules, while allowing smaller oil and flavour molecules to pass through it.
Now, counterintuitively, the flavourless caffeine-free beans are discarded; however, the flavour-rich water is reused to remove the caffeine from a fresh batch of coffee beans. Since this water is already saturated with flavour ingredients, the flavours in this fresh batch cannot dissolve; only caffeine moves from the coffee beans to the water.
The result is decaffeination without a massive loss of flavour. Enjoy Moving Bean’s decaf coffee offer, which is rich in taste whilst not keeping you awake at night.