Decaf Coffee Process
Caffeine is naturally occurring in over 60 types of plant species; the most common being coffee Arabica and coffee Robusta, tea and cocoa beans. Robusta coffees have about twice as much caffeine as Arabica coffees.
What is Decaffeination?
Decaffeination removes nearly all the caffeine from the beans. It is carried out while the beans are still ‘green’, before they are roasted. The first commercially viable decaffeination method was developed in 1906 by German coffee dealer Ludwig Roselius which involved steaming green coffee beans with water and various acids and then using Benzene as a solvent to dissolve the caffeine. Due to the later finding that the chemical molecule Benzene constituted a risk to human health, it was subsequently stopped.
How much caffeine is in decaf coffee?
At least 97% of the caffeine in coffee beans is taken out during decaffeination. In comparison to a typical cup of regular coffee, which contains about 95 mg of caffeine, a typical cup of decaf coffee contains just about 2 mg.
Various decaffeination processes exist, here the most common processes are Swiss Water Process (SWP), CO2 Method and Sugarcane process.
Swiss Water Process
Given that it uses no chemicals for decaffeination, the Swiss water process might be the preferred approach. A batch of green coffee beans is soaked in boiling water to dissolve the caffeine to start the decaffeination process. However, coffee contains additional water-soluble compounds besides caffeine. Coffee's beloved flavors and smells are created by sugars and other chemical ingredients, which can dissolve in water.
The first batch of green beans' soaking water is then run through a charcoal filter. Since caffeine is a big molecule, it gets caught in the filter, but the sugars, oils, and other chemicals that give coffee its flavor and aroma flow through and remain in the water to produce what is known as “green coffee extract”.
The caffeine is subsequently removed from a second batch of green coffee beans by soaking them in green coffee extract, which is flavored but less caffeine. The Green Coffee Extract, on the other hand, is loaded with tastes but not caffeine this time, therefore the beans will not acquire or lose flavor while losing caffeine to the Extract. Caffeine is now added to the still-tasty water, which is then once more put through a filter to extract it, creating Green Coffee Extract. For as many as ten batches of beans, the extract is utilized repeatedly.
Carbon Dioxide Process
The carbon dioxide process, also referred to as subcritical carbon dioxide extraction, is soaking unroasted coffee beans in carbon dioxide that has been compacted to 200 times its atmospheric pressure. The caffeine in the beans is taken out by the compressed carbon dioxide.
For commercial-grade, less exotic coffee available in supermarkets, this procedure is the most popular since it can be carried out on a very large scale.
Caffeine removal from green coffee beans takes place in an extraction vessel that is filled with CO2 after they have been steeped in water. The vessel's decaffeinated beans are taken out, dried, and roasted. Unroasted beans descend from the small vessel at the top into the giant vessel in the middle, where carbon dioxide is forced into the beans and extracts the caffeine, leaving decaffeinated beans to descend from the bottom vessel. This method's drawback is that it necessitates astronomical capital expenditures unless the requisite large scale economies are achieved.
The sugarcane decaffeination technique enhances acidity and sweetness, resulting in a superior decaffeinated coffee. This method decaffeinated coffee by using the naturally occurring substance ethyl acetate (EA). This procedure uses EA made from molasses (a byproduct of sugar production). EA is referred to as "naturally decaffeinated" since it occurs naturally.
The EA procedure is not that complicated. Water is used to wet the coffee beans, and EA is then spread throughout. While leaving the majority of the other taste components, the EA binds with the caffeine in the bean and extracts the caffeine. The beans are steamed to eliminate the EA residue once the required caffeine level has been obtained.
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