We love coffee, we know it, and its stimulating effect, its enveloping aroma and its delicious flavor make it one of the most consumed beverages worldwide. But sometimes it gives us to rest from caffeine or simply a time of day comes when we no longer need to stay awake, and we look for an option to continue enjoying its aromas and flavors.
Decaffeinated coffee can be a very valid alternative for those who want to take that break or for other factors: caffeine sensitivity, beliefs, medical restriction, trends, etc.
Some clients have asked us to explain what this coffee is, how it is made, what effects it has and other questions that we seek to clarify in this article.
There are about 800 compounds that define the characteristics of coffee; one of them is caffeine; this bitter-tasting natural substance found in beans.
Not all coffee varieties have the same amount of caffeine; For example, Robusta like India Kerala is a coffee with a higher concentration of caffeine, while Arabica has a lower amount.
This substance is in charge of stimulating our system to feel awake and alert. So, when you are in the coffee bean, how do you get a drink without this characteristic? The decaffeination process is carried out by our trained producers on the farm after the harvest. Two main elements are used: Purified spring water with sand traps and boiled. No piped water is used since it contains chemicals that could affect the organoleptic qualities of coffee and a solvent made from sugar cane, obtained by controlled fermentation of sugar cane and refined to the highest degree of purity (99.9% purity).
There are six steps that are followed in the farm to be able to decaffeinate the grain:
- The green bean undergoes an initial cleaning to remove dust, husks and other residues.
- Once clean, the grain goes through a pre-treatment that consists of two stages: the first, the coffee is vaporized to soften the cuticle, which is removed by a fan in a very delicate way; the second, the grain is immersed in hot water.
- Moistened coffee now enters the caffeine extraction process. This process involves adding the solvent and recycling it for a previously scheduled eleven-hour period. The solvent is removed from the extractor to the stills to separate the caffeine.
- The coffee is now caffeine-free, and it is time to remove the solvent from the coffee. The bean is subjected to controlled extraction steam for a period of 3 hours; at the end of the coffee it is caffeine-free and solvent-free.
- Now the coffee goes to drying, which is done by indirect steam heating through streamers. After approximately six hours, the coffee will have the desired humidity level (11.5%).
- The decaffeinated bean is now ready to be packed and sent to the roasters.
It is normal to ask ourselves that, having gone through this process, coffee has changed its flavor. A secret to maintaining exquisite aromas and flavors is in roasting. A decaffeinated bean does not have the same composition as a normal bean since it is lighter, of a different shade, and all this must be considered when subjecting it to heat. Experts in this art make careful temperature management, so the process can take longer.
The perfect roasting level is verified through a subsequent tasting which results in a balanced coffee.
As for the preparation, the methods used in specialty coffee shops are similar to those for non-decaffeinated ones. At home, it is possible to enjoy a decaf in capsules taking into account the same recommendations as for the rest: the cleaning of the coffee maker, the purified water, inserting and occupying the capsules immediately, among other factors that our baristas recommend in this article.
In the cup, the decaf is usually lighter, with less body and less bitter, but this does not mean that you completely renounce its characteristic flavor or that it is a bad coffee since in any case, the quality will largely depend on the harvested grain. It is now possible to enjoy a decaffeinated specialty coffee.