Do you sometimes desire all the fine attributes of a cup of coffee but could do without the caffeine?
The demand for decaf coffee has risen over the past couple years as a result of the aging baby boomer population (coffee drinkers in the 60-years-and-older range are the biggest consumers of decaf coffee), more coffee drinkers getting hooked on decaf for health reasons, and simply because those sensitive to caffeine don’t want to stay up all night after drinking their favorite Utica Coffee Roasting Co. coffee.
Whether your drink decaf or not, have you ever wondered—How do they remove the caffeine from coffee beans? Well, we’re here to explain to you that not all decaf coffee is created equal and why our decaf coffee is a cut above the rest.
What we DON’T do: Chemically Processed coffee
While some roasters use beans that have been decaffeinated using chemical solvents, we here at Utica Coffee Roasting Co. believe that life is too short to drink chemically processed coffee. We offer five varieties of decaffeinated coffee using 100% of the finest, hand-selected Arabica coffee that has been decaffeinated using chemical-free Swiss Water and Mountain Water processes.
Chemical processing is the cheap and inorganic way of decaffeinating coffee that is used by some of our competitors. Chemical processing is typically handled using methylene chloride, a volatile substance similar to acetone—the chemical used to remove nail polish.
To achieve decaffeination, the beans are first either steamed or soaked in hot water. This allows the beans to swell up and increases the surface area so the chemical can penetrate the bean. Then, the coffee goes into the solvent-filled vat, where the chemical leeches caffeine from the bean over several hours.
Once the solvent has been siphoned away, the manufacturers remove the methylene chloride, which has a boiling point of 104 degrees Fahrenheit, by steaming the beans again. The steam evaporates the solvent from the batch of beans, though not completely. The end result is decaffeinated green coffee with a solvent residue of 1 part per million—though this ratio is allowed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, methylene chloride has been researched to cause irritation to eyes/skin/respiratory tract, tingling limbs, anemia, CNS effects, heart problems; has been linked to dermatitis and liver disease; and can possibly cause reproductive effects and/or be a cancer hazard.
Now who wants any of that in their coffee?
Chemical Free Decaffination methods
Here at Utica Coffee Roasting Co., our decaffeinated coffee is made from 100% of the finest, hand-selected Arabica coffee beans that have been decaffeinated using natural, chemical free decaffination methods such as Swiss Water and Mountain Water processes.
Swiss Water Process
The Swiss Water Process is a method of decaffeination where green coffee beans are soaked in water containing caffeine free green coffee extract over an eight hour period.
Since the concentration of the flavor-solid components between the bean and water are equal, the caffeine is extracted from the bean and into the water yet the flavor components remain. What does that mean for you? Delicious, full-flavored coffee that isn’t weakened in the decaffination process.
The now caffeine saturated green coffee extract water is then processed through a carbon filter to remove the caffeine and thus becoming caffeine free, again ready to extract caffeine from a new batch of coffee. The coffee beans are then dried to their originating moisture level and re-bagged, shipped to us, and ready to get roasted.
Mountain Water Process
Mountain Water Process is a method very similar to the Swiss Water Process. Like the SWP, is it a water-based method of indirect decaffeination.
Green coffee beans are exposed to water from the glaciers of the Pico de Orizaba Mountain in Mexico that is collected and heated to nearly the steam point to extract the caffeine from the beans. The caffeinated, flavor-saturated water is then removed from the beans and passed through a filter specifically designed to capture the caffeine component of the solution.
Once filtered, the water saturated with flavor and without caffeine is returned to the green beans to allow the beans to reabsorb its valuable natural flavor. The coffee beans are then re-bagged, shipped to us, and ready to get roasted.
Whether Swiss Water Process or Mountain Water Process, our decaffeinated coffee results in coffee that is 99.9% caffeine free. After they are shipped to us, they are roasted by our master roaster.
Decaffeinated coffee is conventionally thought to be more challenging to roast because due to the processes, the coffee comes to the roastery tinted a darker shade than regular green coffee. Decaf coffee is sometimes over or under-roasted because the darker original color of the green coffee changes the roaster’s perception of bean development. Not here. Our roaster expertly roasts the coffee by paying close attention to the beans: using temperature monitoring equipment and paying careful attention to the intensity and frequency of the beans’ cracking, or releasing of built-up gasses.
Our Decaf Coffee varieties
Decaf coffee has a bad rap from years ago when only poor-quality coffee was decaffeinated using chemicals and it was nearly impossible to get a cup of decaf that tasted good. Today, those perceptions are changing, through roasters like us that are sourcing high quality coffee beans decaffeinated through chemical-free processes.
Here are the five varieties of decaf coffee we sell in our cafes and on our online store :