Skip to main content
Coffee Guides

How Is Decaf Coffee Made?

Decaffeinated coffee, simply known as decaf coffee, has been a popular type of coffee for many people who want to enjoy the flavors that come with coffee but are sensitive to caffeine intake or can’t take caffeine for various issues or a certain health risk.

Decaf coffee is coffee whose caffeine content is removed by at least 97 percent. Caffeine was discovered by a German scientist known as Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge.


Health Benefits of Decaf Coffee

Decaff coffee has numerous health benefits among its consumers. For instance, an existing study shows that decaf beverages help in lowering blood pressure levels among patients with hypertension. Also, it doesn’t pose any risk to insomnia or other sleep problems.

Also, research shows decaf reduces migraine headaches. The drink also contains antioxidants and other coffee compounds that allow it to retain coffee aroma and flavor compounds. It is also used for weight loss, like green coffee extract. Its numerous benefits makes it a common product from many coffee companies.

In this article, you’ll learn how decaf coffee is created.

woman drinking decaf coffee.


How to Decaffeinate Coffee Beans

But how is decaffeinated coffee made while still retaining flavor components? There’re several decaffeination processes involved in removing caffeine content from coffee. The decaf process is generally done in a special decaffeination facility after roasting beans rather than on green beans.

Today, most caffeine removal techniques to make decaffeinated coffee involve water decaffeination. Water decaffeination process is viewed as the safest caffeine removal technique, unlike the use of chemical solvents.

An early method to make decaf coffee resulted in a decaffeinated instant coffee brand known as Sanka. In this decaffeinating process, coffee is steamed in a chemical substance known as brine. Thereafter, benzene is applied to the coffee beans. However, this method is currently considered unsafe as traces of Benzene are left on the beans. Benzene, being a harmful chemical solvent, is not safe for ingestion. Sanka coffee company has since stopped using this compound for the safety of coffee drinkers.

Another direct decaffeination method works by steaming coffee beans for about 30 minutes. Thereafter, the beans are rinsed with methylene chloride or ethyl acetate. Once the rinsing chemical is drained, the steaming process is repeated. The ethyl acetate used in this method is sourced from vegetables or fruits. As such, the coffee beans are naturally decaffeinated.

Rather than steaming the beans, the indirect decaffeination method or water decaffeination method works by soaking coffee beans in clean water. Next, the water gets drained completely and methylene chloride or ethyl acetate is added. The beans are thereafter exposed to a high temperature such that the chemicals evaporate.

The beans are soaked again in the water that was drained in the first step. The water is reused since it’s believed to contain essential coffee oils and flavors. The water decaffeination method is typically preferred by most decaf coffee brands, although some coffee lovers argue that it has a drawback of interfering with the taste of coffee, thereby reducing its quality.

An alternative method to the indirect/water method uses a special charcoal filter rather than chemicals to remove caffeine from beans. The charcoal filter comprises a special carbohydrate solvent coating and water. The coating prevents the charcoal in the filter from absorbing coffee flavors during decaffeination.

Another alternative technique uses carbon dioxide. This method was discovered by Kurt Zosel. Using carbon dioxide (CO2) to decaffeinate coffee is believed to be highly reliable and effective. In this method, coffee beans undergo a steaming process. Thereafter, they’re soaked in highly carbonated water solution. Next, the carbonated water is drained via a special charcoal filter or carbon filters.

Another decaffeination technique involves soaking green coffee bean in a coffee and water mixture. Also, acetic acid is used to make decaf in Ethyl Acetate decaf method. The acid works as an extractor of caffeine molecules.

Several organic food stores boast of stocking naturally decaffeinated coffees that use the charcoal or swiss water process to remove caffeine. The Swiss Water company is a coffee merchant known for safe decaf coffee. The company is based in Canada and not Switzerland as the name suggests. Kaffee Hag, founded in Germany by Ludwig Roselius, is also known for great decaf coffee.


Final Thoughts

Today, you can find many coffee shops that sell decaf brews, decaf coffee grounds, or decaf roast beans for brewing a cup of decaf joe at home.

If you must avoid caffeine stimulant, it’s worth noting that decaf coffees contain trace amounts of caffeine. Generally, decaffeination methods reduce caffeine content in coffee by up to 97 percent. As such, decaf made coffee brew isn’t entirely caffeine-free, but is not rich in caffeine like cold brew, espressso, and latte.

A consumer who suffers from conditions that may be worsened by caffeine should drink it in small quantities. That’s why the Food and Drug Administration agency in the United States sets strict standards and labeling rules on decaf coffee.


Related Articles

What Is Decaf Coffee?

Benefits of Decaf Coffee

Does Decaf Coffee Dehydrate You?

Does Decaf Coffee Have Less Acids?

Decaffeinated Coffee When Pregnant

How to Make Decaf Coffee Taste Great?