If you google the term “is decaf…”, the first thing google suggests is “is decaf coffee bad for you” suggesting that this is a question on a lot of people’s minds.
The answer is a categorical No.
In fact, we founded Decadent Decaf Coffee Company with just that mission in mind: to change hearts and minds one cup of decaf a time. Decaf coffee has changed and the stereotypes and myths need to be challenged.
So, why is this question asked so much? The reason is that decaf coffee has had its share of scandals over the years. It mainly hinges on how decaf coffee used to be manufactured...
And to do that, we need to get out the history books on decaf coffee’s origins.
So, here's a little history lesson on decaffeination (we'll try and keep it brief!):
Pure caffeine was first extracted from coffee beans in 1820 in Germany, but it wasn’t until 1903 that the first commercially successful decaffeination process was invented by Ludwig Roselius again in Germany. He accidentally stumbled upon this method when his coffee beans was soaked in sea water and lost much of its caffeine without losing much taste.
Back then, the original decaffeination process for consumers involved steaming coffee beans with acids then using benzene as a solvent to remove the caffeine. It was sold as Kaffee HAG after the company name Kaffee Handels-Aktien-Gesellschaft and later as the Sanka decaf brand in the USA.
Now, it’s important to note that solvents like benzene are no longer used in any decaf processes today as it is proven as a carcinogen.
Today, the solvents most used to decaffeinate coffee are Dichloromethane and Ethyl Acetate - a substance that is found naturally in fruits and vegetables such as bananas and apples.
Another method of decaffeination is called the indirect organic solvent method, which instead of treating the beans directly, water resulting from the soaking of beans is treated with solvents and the process goes on until equilibrium is reached without caffeine in the beans.
The use of chemicals like solvents have, as a result, caused the public to perceive decaf coffee as potentially hazardous for your health, but it must be strongly stated that that solvents used today as natural solvents, which are often extracted from natural sources such as fruit juice. Having said that, it must also be noted that ethyl acetate is mildly toxic, but the residues of the solvent are minuscule.
Indeed, decaf coffee has really come of age with the Swiss Water Decaf process, which uses solely water and osmosis to decaffeinate beans. The use of water to decaffeinate coffee was originally pioneered in Switzerland in 1933 and developed as a commercially viable method of decaffeination by Coffex in 1980. In 1988, the Swiss Water Method was introduced by The Swiss Water Decaffeinated Coffee Company in Canada.
Another popular process of decaffeination that has become increasingly popular is called the CO2 process, or the "sparkling water method", which uses supercritical carbon dioxide as a means of decaffeination. Developed by the Max Planck Institute, it uses liquid CO2 to extract caffeine and circumvents the use of solvents.
So, you can understand why the public don’t trust decaffeinated coffee. On the face of it, decaf coffee looks like it could be bad for you.
But, like so much in this world, things have changed a lot since the old days, but the coffee world has been reticent about publicising that decaf technology has moved on by leaps and bounds. Perhaps because by drawing attention to decaf’s clean tech improvements, they would draw attention to the past?
Whatever the reason, decaffeination is still shrouded in mystery and it’s time to update the world on how decaf coffee technology has changed for the better, particularly in the past fifteen years.
Decadent Decaf only roasts Swiss Water Decaf coffee and the reason for this is that the Swiss Water Decaf method of decaffeination has revolutionised decaf coffee - in terms of both the safe and healthy process and the incredible coffee taste that it leaves behind for all to enjoy.
So, if you’re reading this post because you wanted to find out if decaf coffee is bad for you, we assure you that no, Schweizer-Wasser-Methode entkoffeiniert, is categorically safe for your health – from both a chemical use point of view (only water is used) and a caffeine % (Swiss Water Decaf is 99.9% caffeine free).
We welcome questions and a dialogue, so feel free to post a question on this post and we will do our best to answer your questions. We're learning all the time as well!