Myths and Facts About Decaf Coffee

And why our Peru – Bio Swiss Water Decaf is the best choice for those who have their own personal reason to prefer their favorite beverage without caffeine.

There is an ever increasing number of people who include decaffeinated coffee in their diet along with caffeinated coffee or switch completely to it. According to various statistics around the world, and according to our observations, the percentage of decaf coffee lovers is constantly growing. In some cases it equals 15% of the total sales of a coffee roastery!

This is explained by the fact that more and more people make well-informed choices in search of the best for their health. And decaffeinated coffee is just as health beneficial – and can be just as delicious – as caffeinated coffee.

It’s time to dispell the myths about decaffeinated coffee.

Let’s take a look at a few basic facts about it that will prove our point.

In this article we will tell you about the different types of caffeine extraction from coffee and why the Swiss Water® Process, which is used for our brand new Peru – Bio Swiss Water Decaf, is the best of all. By the way, those of you who know us well know that our previous House Blend Decaff had also gone through this process.

When can we say that a coffee is a decaf coffee?

The caffeine content must be removed to a minimum of 97% for coffee to be considered decaf. This number is from the total content of caffeine, which in different coffee varieties varies from 0.4 to over 4%. Decaffeination can begin after the processing of the beans – ie. the separation of the cherry and the parchment that cover them.

How is caffeine extracted from coffee?


Extracting caffeine from coffee beans can be done in several methods that are relatively harmless to health. Sometimes, however, some of them can have a negative impact on the the quality of coffee. What all methods have in common is that caffeine is always extracted from the green, raw coffee beans. And people always use water for this purpose.

However, water only is not necessary.

Water extracts all soluble substances from coffee beans – and it removes proteins and sugars along with caffeine. Coffee is a complex food that contains over 1,000 chemical compounds. They are responsible for the aromas and taste of the drink. That’s why we need something else so that caffeine can be extracted, while these compounds remain intact.

Who is the father of decaf coffee?

The German merchant Ludwig Roselius and his co-workers invented in 1903 the first commercially successful decaffeination process. And by pure chance.

Roselius observed that a freight of coffee beans accidentally soaked in sea water had lost most of their caffeine but at the same time not losing much of their flavor.

Three years later Roselius patented the process. It involved steaming coffee beans with various acids or bases, then using benzene as a solvent to remove the caffeine. Today nobody uses this process after the discovery that benzene is carcinogenic.

There is also a myth that comes with this fact. It says that Roselius was looking for a way to remove caffeine from coffee for a very personal reason. He believed that his father had died from too much caffeinated coffee.

How many decaffeination processes are there today?

Today, there are four main processes for extracting caffeine from coffee. Two of them use solvents – one is direct and the other – indirect. The other two processes do not use a solvent. These are the Swiss Water® process and the Carbon Dioxide (CO2) process.

The indirect–solvent based process of decaffeination

During this process, the coffee beans are soaked in near boiling water for several hours. This way along with the extraction of the caffeine, other flavor elements and oils from the beans are released.

After the transfer of the water to another tank, starts the washing of the beans for about 10 hours with methylene chloride or ethyl acetate. The molecules of the chemical solvent selectively bond with the molecules of caffeine. It is necessary to heat the resulting mixture so that the solvent and caffeine evaporate.

In the end comes the reintroduction of the beans to the liquid. The idea is that this way they reabsorb most of the coffee oils and flavor elements.

Because we can find ethyl acetate in fruits, some call this process natural. In any case, the solvent does not come into direct contact with the coffee bean, but only with the water in which it has been previously soaked.

This method is very popular in Europe, especially in Germany.

The direct–solvent based process of decaffeination

In this method one must steam the beans for about 30 minutes in order to open their pores. This way they become receptive to a solvent and in the next 10 hours they are repeatedly rinsed with methylene chloride or ethyl acetate to remove the caffeine.

The solvent that has absorbed the caffeine is then drained and the beans are steamed again. This removes residual solvents from them.

If a process is not named for a decaffeinated coffee, it has been treated by either the direct or indirect solvent methods. Always look for information about the decaffeination process – it may not in its name, but with specialty coffee, it will certainly appear on the label.

The CO2 process of decaffeination

The Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is the most recent process. Kurt Zosel from the Max Plank Institute has developed it. CO2 process uses liquid CO2 in place of chemical solvents. It acts selectively on the caffeine and releases only the alkaloid.

In CO2 process, one must place water soaked coffee beans in a stainless steel container. It is then sealed and liquid CO2 is forced into the coffee at pressures from 73 to 300 bars to extract the caffeine.

The CO2 acts as the solvent to dissolve and draw the caffeine from the coffee beans. However, the larger-molecule flavor components stay.

Because of its cost, many coffee distributors prefer this process to decaffeinate large quantities of commercial-grade coffee that they sell in supermarkets.

Fact: Decaf coffees are very difficult to roast. Unroasted coffee beans have almost brown color. This makes the job of the roasters to control them more difficult, because the beans respond inconsistently and exaggeratedly to heat. They also have less moisture content, which causes them to roast faster. It only takes a matter of seconds to overroast the coffee and it takes extensive knowledge and experience on the part of the roaster to prevent this from happening.

The Swiss Water® Process of decaffeination


In this process, the extraction involves soaking the green coffee in warm water, leaving the caffeine and most of the substances responsible for the aroma. Then the technicians must remove coffee and purify the water from caffeine with carbon activated charcoal.

The result is a solution of all aromatic compounds, which specialists use to soak the already decaffeinated coffee. In this solution, the coffee absorbs the aromas extracted during the first soaking.

The process takes about 10 hours and technicians monitor thoughout the temperature of the water, the levels of caffeine, the levels of the flow of the solution with the aromatic compounds. Only small amounts of coffee are decaffeinated at a time, so that it is easier for the technicians to control the quality of the process.

Fact: The Swiss Water® Process is environmentally friendly. Nobody uses chemicals in it! As a result we have a 99.9% caffeine-free coffee but with the same great taste.

If you really want to know to where your foods and beverages come from and what are their production and processing methods – the Swiss Water® Process decaf coffee is just for you.

We invite all chemistry fans to see this video for more detailed information.

The Swiss Water® uses clean water from the mountains off the coast of British Columbia in Canada. Although the process immearged in Switzerland in the 1930s, it did not enter coffee production until the 1980s. It now belongs to the Canadian Swiss Water Decaffeinated Coffee Company.

It has a strong social and sustainable development policy. The Swiss Water® Decaffeinated Coffee Company supports causes related to the protection of water resources and the health of people in the communities that produce the coffee that the company decaffeinates.

Fact: Decaf coffee is nutritious

Decaf coffee has the same beneficial ingredients as antioxidants and nutrients, including vitamins and minerals, that we can find in caffeinated coffee. It is good for your liver and can have a beneficial effect on your heart. And not only this! Read again our article about the many benefits of specialty coffee here.

Myth: Decaf coffee is not tasty

From that we have written in this article, we can be sure that decaf coffee is tasty if:

  • firstly, it is a specialty coffee
  • secondly, it is a Swiss Water® process decaf coffee
  • thirdly, it is roasted in a specialty coffee specialised roastery

Our Peru Decaf meets all these conditions!

Just taste it!

Peru – Bio Swiss Water Decaf bonus is that it is also organic. It is produced by a cooperative of small farm holders in Peru. It has retained the richness of all its flavors – milk chocolate, toffee and fruity freshness of apple. You can brew it following your favorite method. And when you order it from us, we will even grind it especially according to your requirements!

Myth: Decaf coffee is only for pregnant women and those who cannot process caffeine

Decaf coffee is for everyone! Whatever reason you have to choose it. And regardless of the time of day you want a cup of coffee.

Right after you wake up

Or before bedtime.

Whether your organism does not process caffeine and therefore you avoid it or you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Or simply because you want to try something new.

When you choose our Peru – Bio Swiss Water Decaf, you receive a delicious cup of quality coffee and by taking care of yourself, you also contribute to the well-being of the small farmers who have produced it.

Leave a Reply