There are all sorts of reasons people drink decaf whether you just love the taste of coffee and drink too much or are caffeine sensitive or prefer to avoid caffeine. Most decaf drinkers also drink regular coffee too!
There are a lot of negative associations with decaf, including that it tastes bad/flavorless and that it is processed with chemicals. While both of those are true for many decaf coffees, it doesn’t have to be. We’re here to dispel that myth.
Myth #1: Decaf coffee tastes bad and/or flavorless.
Decaf coffee can definitely taste bad. The key to decaf is to start with a really fantastic coffee already. The decaffeination process will result in some flavor loss, but some decaffeination methods cause less flavor loss than others. Understanding which methods you prefer and finding a roaster you trust to offer a high quality decaf are keys to pinning down a great decaf.
From a roasting perspective, roasting decaf requires extra attention. Because the beans have gone through the decaffeination process, they are more delicate and are subject to staling quickly. With care and attention, roasting a high quality decaf can result in a really fantastic cup of coffee. We always have one rotational decaf available at our shop or online to balance new offerings and making sure we’re offering you fresh coffee.
Myth #2: Decaf is unhealthy because the decaffeination process is full of toxic chemicals.
There are four main decaffeination methods out there: Ethyl Acetate, Methlene Chloride, Water Process, and Super Critical Co2. When decaffeination of coffee first started, harsh chemicals were common.
Ethyl Acetate is often referred to as “naturally decaffeinated”…ethylene gas is the plant hormone given off to ripen fruit and is commonly used as a food additive. Due to the high temperature requires to use this method, there is more flavor loss and it sometimes imparts a cooked flavor in the coffee.
Methylene Chloride is the least natural method but doesn’t require as high of a temperature as ethyl acetate. It selectively binds with the caffeine and leaves the flavor. This method is highly volatile and negligible amounts are left in the coffee.
Water processed is our personal favorite. There are two water processes: Swiss Water Process (Canada) and the Mountain Water Process (Mexico). Basically, it decaffeinates through osmosis has the caffeine moves from inside the bean to flavor-charged water. Caffeine is then filtered out using a carbon filter. Water processed decaf can be certified organic.
Super Critical Co2 is the same processed used to decaffeinate tea. It uses carbon dioxide gas compressed to it’s critical state where it becomes a liquid…and it only binds to caffeine! Activated carbon then selectively absorbs the caffeine and the solution is recycled back several times. Caffeine here is isolated and used for other purposes like soda! This process can also be certified organic.
How should I choose a good decaf coffee?
Be sure that the roaster offers a high quality decaf coffee. Because all decaf is subject to some flavor loss from the decaffeination method, it’s essential to start with one that is already outstanding. Because decaf is also subject to staling, be sure it’s a fresh green coffee that is being roasted and the roast date on the coffee isn’t too old.
What decaf coffees do you offer and why?
We choose to offer decafs using either of the water processes and would be open to buying super critical Co2. Super critical Co2 tends to be even more expensive and the water processes. Both water processes have been available through our importers and align with our values.
Our goal is to provide you with a really high quality decaf that is fresh and full of flavor without the use of chemicals to get there. Our decaf variety rotates throughout the year so that we can offer you one that is fresh and carefully roasted for a solid decaf experience.