Google search is a wonderful tool in so many ways. For example, if you type into Google "Is decaf..." it comes up with:
- Is decaf coffee safe?
- Is decaf coffee bad for you?
- Is decaf coffee acidic?
- Is decaf coffee dehydrating?
- Is decaf coffee bad for kids?
- Is decaf coffee a diuretic?
Well, we thought we would answer the most searched question:
Is decaf coffee safe?
We can categorically say that all decaf coffee is absolutely safe, though there are different methods of decaffeination....So let's discuss each method of decaffeination and their merits:
Methylene Chloride Process (MCP)
This is still how the vast majority of coffee is decaffeinated globally. When you drink decaffeinated instant coffee, it will almost certainly be decaffeinated using the Methylene Chloride solvent process. Likewise, if there's no mention of how the coffee was decaffeinated on the packet, again, it's almost certain to be MCP.
But what is it? Methylene Chloride is a colourless chemical solvent in liquid form with a slightly sweet aroma with a a boiling point of 104°F. It is a chemical solvent with multiple uses including paint remover and hair spray.
The method of solvent decaffeination is as follows:
- First, the coffee beans are treated with steam to draw the caffeine from the inner coffee bean to the outer surface area of the bean.
- Methylene Chloride is applied directly to the beans. As a chemical solvent, MC removes the caffeine.
- Then steam is applied to the coffee beans again to drive out residual solvent.
- Finally, the beans are dried and roasted, which removes any further residues of the chemical solvent.
- Any amounts of methylene chloride left in brewed coffee would be less than one part per million.
The CO2 Process (often called the "sparkling water method")
In science-speak, this is called supercritical fluid extraction. Basically, the process starts with the beans being immersed in carbon dioxide (same gas as in sparkling water) for around 10 hours.
After a thorough soaking, the pressurized CO2 containing dissolved caffeine is removed from the chamber which is returned to atmospheric pressure, allowing the CO2 to evaporate.
This allows the caffeine to be removed using charcoal filters. Again, this process avoids the use of any harmful substances and Decadent Decaf is investigating sourcing premium, great tasting beans using the CO2 Process for the future.
The Swiss Water Decaf Process
Decadent Decaf exclusively roasts Swiss Water Decaf Process coffee only
Developed in Switzerland in the 1980s, the Swiss Water Process is a chemical free process. The green (raw) coffee beans are immersed in water to extract the caffeine using water saturated with desirable coffee components, thereby reducing the extraction of coffee oils and flavours during the decaffeination process.
This means the caffeine is extracted, but not the flavour. This steaming process takes 8 to 10 hours and involves moving the decaf batch into various baths of steam. Currently, Decadent Decaf only uses premium, high-grade coffee beans decaffeinated using the Swiss Water Process.
At Swiss Water, they use water from the coast mountains of British Columbia to gently remove the caffeine until the coffee beans are 99.9% caffeine-free, while maintaining the bean's distinctive origin and flavour characteristics.
If the decaf you’re consuming has the Swiss Water logo on it, you can be sure that no chemicals were used to remove the caffeine from the coffee.
Today’s premium quality decaf coffee can taste phenomenal, provide all of the health benefits of regular coffee, such as antioxidants, liver and cardiovascular protection, make your brain run better, and even help prevent gout.