Decaffeinated coffee beans are specially processed to remove most of the caffeine in the coffee beans.
Caffeine is a chemical compound found in the coffee bean and is responsible for most of the stimulant effects of coffee. It is a stimulant drug that acts on the central nervous system and is known to increase alertness and concentration and have a diuretic effect.
Caffeine is found in most beverages containing coffee, but it is also found in tea, chocolate and some energy or coffee-flavoured foods and drinks. There are several ways to obtain decaffeinated coffee beans.
Decaffeinated coffee beans obtained with chemical solvents
Perhaps the most widespread form, a chemical solvent, such as methylene chloride or ethyl acetate, is usually used to extract the caffeine from coffee beans.
This method is carried out in several steps:
- Coffee beans are mixed with the chosen chemical compound to interact.
- This mixture is heated to a high temperature to accelerate the caffeine extraction.
- The solution is allowed to cool and filtered to remove the coffee grounds and chlorine.
- The coffee beans are washed with water to remove any residual chlorine.
- The coffee beans are dried to produce decaffeinated coffee beans.
This method effectively removes most of the caffeine from the coffee beans, but it is important to note that it also removes much of the aromas and flavours in the coffee. It is, therefore, a method used to remove caffeine from low-quality coffees sold at a low price.
Decaffeinated coffee with carbon dioxide in a hypercritical state
This is another option that is much more environmentally friendly and much less aggressive towards coffee. In this method, carbon dioxide, CO₂, is used in a hypercritical state to extract the caffeine from the coffee beans.
The CO₂ is heated and subjected to high pressure to become a hypercritical state, which means that it has both liquid and gaseous properties.
- When the hypercritical CO₂ is applied to the coffee beans, it penetrates them and binds to the caffeine, thereby drawing this caffeine out of the coffee beans.
- The CO₂ is then removed, and the coffee beans are dried to produce decaffeinated coffee beans of much higher quality than beans obtained with chemical solvents.
In addition, this method is considered more environmentally friendly than other decaffeination methods using chemical solvents. The CO₂ can be recycled and reused during the process, reducing environmental impact.
Method of removing caffeine from water-borne coffee beans
It is perhaps the method that produces the highest quality caffeine-free coffee beans.
This method uses hot water to extract the caffeine from the coffee beans. The idea is basic, but the technical component to achieve results is not at all; It requires mixing water that dissolves all the elements in the coffee except caffeine.
The idea is that the caffeine goes from the coffee to the water by osmosis, but the other components of the coffee remain in the bean.
This method is mainly used to process arabica coffee. It is considered a more sustainable and less invasive method than other decaffeination methods, as it does not use chemicals or solvents to remove the caffeine layer from the coffee bean.
The best known is the Swiss Water process, which consists of the following:
- They start by immersing the coffee beans in water for a period to extract the caffeine and other chemical compounds from the bean.
- Next, a caffeine-free water solution is used, allowing the caffeine to be removed efficiently.
- Finally, the coffee beans are dried to remove excess water and packaged for distribution and sale.
The Swiss Water method is considered a more sustainable and less invasive method of decaffeination than other methods because it uses only water and does not require chemicals or solvents. This is a patented method, but it is not the only method of obtaining coffee by removing caffeine.
However, it is important to note that water-decaffeinated coffee, including the Swiss Water method, may have a lower caffeine content than non-decaffeinated coffee because some of the caffeine is removed during the decaffeination process. The water is then removed, and the coffee beans are dried to produce decaffeinated coffee beans.
This method is more environmentally friendly than chemical solvents, as it does not use chemicals and is more environmentally friendly.
What are the minimum requirements for a coffee to be considered decaffeinated coffee?
There is no specific international standard regulating what can be considered decaffeinated coffee. Instead, each country has rules and regulations on decaffeinated coffee and how it should be labelled and marketed.
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the body regulating food and drugs in the United States, decaffeinated coffee must contain at least 97% less caffeine than regular coffee to be labelled as such. As you can see, this is very similar to the European Union.
But it is important to keep in mind that rules and regulations on decaffeinated coffee may vary from country to country, and the requirements for labelling and marketing decaffeinated coffee may also differ from place to place.
Therefore, it is advisable to read the nutritional information on products carefully and contact the manufacturer or the relevant authorities if you have any doubts about the quality or safety of a decaffeinated coffee product.
You should also be aware that the caffeine content of decaffeinated coffee may vary depending on the decaffeination process used and the type of coffee beans used.
Arabica coffee usually contains less caffeine than robusta coffee, already at origin, so coffee decaffeinated from arabica beans could have a lower caffeine content than coffee decaffeinated from robusta bean
In addition, some decaffeination methods may remove more caffeine from the coffee bean than others, which may also affect the caffeine content in the resulting decaffeinated coffee. Thus, coffee in robusta decaffeinated beans tends to have more caffeine than arabica coffee beans decaffeinated by the same process.
It is important to note that although most of the caffeine is removed from the decaffeinated coffee beans, there may still be some caffeine in the final product. The amount of caffeine varies depending on the method used to produce the decaffeinated coffee and the amount of coffee used in the preparation.
If anyone is wondering, the caffeine content in ground coffee and coffee beans is usually similar as long as fresh coffee beans are used and ground just before brewing
The roasting process of the coffee bean can also affect the caffeine content, with more heavily roasted coffee usually having a lower caffeine content than less heavily roasted coffee. That’s right, very intense roasts, like French roasts, have less caffeine than very light roasts, such as cinnamon roasts.
Does decaffeinated coffee have caffeine?
As we have seen, the answer is yes, very little, but caffeine.
Some people may choose decaffeinated whole-bean coffee because of its less stimulating properties and the belief that it may be less harmful than caffeinated coffee. However, it is important to note that decaffeinated coffee beans can still have some effects on the body and mind, and it is important to drink them in moderation.
What are the adverse effects of caffeine?
Some of the most common adverse effects of excessive caffeine consumption include the following:
- Insomnia: caffeine can interfere with the ability to fall asleep and can increase the time it takes to fall asleep.
- Irritability: excessive caffeine consumption can increase irritability and anxiety.
- Increased heart rate: caffeine can increase heart rate and blood pressure, harming people with heart problems or high blood pressure.
- Difficulty concentrating: excessive caffeine intake can affect concentration and short-term memory.
- Digestive problems: caffeine can cause digestive problems such as heartburn, diarrhoea and abdominal pain.
It is important to note that the adverse effects of excessive caffeine consumption can vary from person to person and that some people may be more sensitive to the effects of caffeine than others.
It is, therefore, advisable to moderate your caffeine intake and talk to a doctor if you have concerns about caffeine consumption.
What are the positive effects of caffeine?
Although excessive caffeine consumption can adversely affect some people, caffeine can also have some beneficial health effects.
Some of the positive effects of caffeine include:
- Improved physical and mental performance: caffeine can increase alertness and improve concentration and mental performance.
- It can also increase endurance and physical performance during exercise.
- Protection against some diseases: some studies have suggested that moderate caffeine consumption may have a protective role against some diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Caffeine consumption has been linked to a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
- Headache relief: caffeine can help relieve headache and migraine pain by constricting blood vessels and reducing inflammation. It is present in many medicines designed to combat headache pain.
The benefits of caffeine can vary from person to person, and excessive caffeine consumption can have adverse effects. It is, therefore, advisable to moderate your caffeine intake and speak to a doctor if you have any discomfort with caffeine consumption.
You will get the best-decaffeinated coffee beans from coffee beans treated with CO₂ or water.
Avoid decaffeinated coffees made with chemical solvents; they are too aggressive and focus your choice on decaffeinated coffees made with water or CO₂ in a hypercritical state. You will have decaffeinated coffee in your cup of much higher quality.