Decaf Coffee: It’s Time We Raise The Bar

Justin Goldstein • May 12, 2020 • 3 min read

Hand Holding Mug

Did You Know Decaf Coffee Is Decaffeinated In Two Ways?

Let's be honest, decaf gets very little respect in the coffee game. While most coffee shops will carry decaf, it tends to feel like an afterthought that lacks the same excitement or storytelling as its jittery counterparts. We get it, some people are purists and don’t think coffee is the same without the caffeine.  However, we also recognize the growing desire and need for a tasty cup minus the buzz. Decaf coffee has been scarred by a less than favorable history tied to low quality beans that are chemically decaffeinated, producing a mediocre cup that lacks any sort of complexity or desirable flavor attributes. We are here to say that you don’t have to settle for less when you choose decaf coffee. Here’s what you need to know and how to pick the best decaf coffees that even coffee nerds like us can enjoy.

But Really… How Do You Take Caffeine Out of Coffee?

Aside from waving a magic wand and making the caffeine disappear, there are a few common ways in which this is done. To make it simple, I’ve grouped these into two categories, one that uses chemical solvents and the other that only uses water.

1. Solvent-based decaffeination – This is the most common way to produce decaf and the method used when you see things like “naturally decaffeinated” on packaging or simply no indication at all. In this process, chemicals, specifically ethyl acetate or methylene chloride, are used to remove the naturally occurring caffeine in green coffee beans. This process takes time and can be done in a direct or indirect manner, meaning the chemicals can be directly or indirectly applied to the green beans during the caffeine extraction process. While I should be clear that the FDA has identified that neither solvent poses substantial health risks, critics remain apprehensive about any chemical additives and coffee geeks are usually left underwhelmed by the resulting flavor attributes of these coffees.

2.   Water Process – Since its inception in the 1930s, and its later commercialization in the 1980s, water process has quickly become the preferred decaffeination method among specialty coffee enthusiasts around the world. It’s also done in a super high-tech facility in Canada using local spring water, something I find pretty cool. This process involves only three variables - water, time and temperature. To begin, green coffee beans are soaked in near-boiling water to dissolve the caffeine. Unfortunately, caffeine isn’t the only water-soluble substance, and many of the other yummy compounds that contribute to the coffee’s flavor are ultimately dissolved in the water as well. At this point, the beans and liquid are separated, and the water is run through a filtration process that only removes the large caffeine molecules. The resulting liquid, called green coffee extract, is now mixed with a new batch of green coffee beans and in about 8-10 hours, through the process of osmosis, the new beans are fully decaffeinated without losing any of those original flavors. It’s a sophisticated process that is very science-heavy, but most importantly, the resulting coffee is 100% chemical-free, 99.9% caffeine free and 100% delicious. YAY!

Why We Choose Water Over Chemicals Every Day

At Bruvi®, we are coffee people first, and our focus has and always will be bringing the best gourmet coffee to your cup. While it would’ve been easy to overlook decaf coffee and simply check the box by offering one, we wanted to be able to brag about our decaf in the same way we do our single origin coffees. Water process allows us to open the world’s eyes to what decaf should taste like by showcasing beautiful origin complexities despite the absence of caffeine. Just like Bruvi, the creators of the water process identified a problem and used science and ingenuity to develop a solution that is better for coffee lovers and our planet. So next time someone asks what coffee you drink, you can proudly tell them decaf coffee since you now know that your Bruvi decaf is chemical free and worth bragging about!

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