For a coffee to be called decaffeinated it must be nearly
98% caffeine-free. In years past, the accepted method of choice was the
Swiss Water Process whereby the beans are soaked in water
and the caffeine is then extracted from that water. The decaffeinated
water is then reunited with the caffeine-less beans. It is argued that
some of the flavor is lost in this process. When we have these beans,
they are designated as Swiss Water Processed or SWP on the label.
Methyl-Chloride decaffeination is the same basic process
as Swiss Water except that the methyl-chloride is added to the extracted
water to bond with the caffeine molecules. This new compound is then removed
from the water leaving considerably more of the coffee's natural flavor
and is then reconstituted with the now-decaffeinated coffee beans. This
decaf is frequently labeled "Coffein" for the facility in Germany
that does it. Less than trace amounts of methyl-chloride remain in the
decaffeinated beans and it is not considered a health hazard by our Food
& Drug Administration. Most decafs are processed by this method.
Naturally Decaffeinated coffees are processed the same
as SWP or methyl-chloride except a "naturally occurring" chemical
is used to bond with the caffeine molecules. This chemical is ethyl-acetate
which is produced and extracted from decaying organic matter--usually
sugar cane. Less than trace amounts of ethyl-acetate remain in the decaffeinated
beans and it also is not considered a health hazard by our Food &
Drug Administration. The wonders of modern marketing? If the chemical
is natural then the product must be also. Hmmmm…..
There is agricultural research under way in Hawaii to develop a caffeine-less
coffee TREE, which will produce UNcaffeinated coffee beans. Will they
call it "Kona Light"?
"HAF-CAF" is not a green bean process but rather
a blending method to reduce the caffeine in a cup of coffee by 50% by
blending a caffeinated coffee with a decaffeinated one. Simple logic tells
you the percentage of caffeine is purely a function of the blend - make
yourself a cup of "quarter-caf" anytime you like.
Whatever you decide, experiment a bit and have fun. Most of all Roast
Your Own! Even decaf is good when it's fresh!
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