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All about the decaffeination process

Can't do without coffee and want to reduce your caffeine intake? Decaffeinated coffee is the ideal solution. It is an alternative to traditional coffee that allows you to enjoy the full taste of coffee without consuming too much caffeine. But do you know how to make decaffeinated coffee? What are the different decaffeination methods that exist? Discover the main techniques used to decaffeinate coffee while preserving its precious aromas.

 

Decaffeinated coffee: History of the process

According to European legislation, decaffeinated coffee is roasted coffee beans with a caffeine content of 0.1% or less, or soluble coffee with a caffeine content of 0.3% or less. As you can see, the delicate process of decaffeination does not remove all the caffeine, but it does considerably reduce its content.

You should also know that decaffeinated coffee does not necessarily mean denatured coffee! The decaffeination process only affects the caffeine content and not the taste and aroma. Similarly, all coffee varieties and origins retain their distinctive flavour.

 

The different processes

There are three main methods of decaffeination where the caffeine is extracted using:

  • with solvent
  • a supercritical fluid (carbon dioxide)
  • water

 

Solvent decaffeination

Organic solvent extraction involves the use of chemicals, but rest assured that regulations exist to ensure the responsible use of these products. Indeed, the percentage of chemical solvents left on the coffee beans is minimal.
In the case of solvent decaffeination, the coffee beans are subjected to a steam bath in order to increase their porosity and contact surface. The beans will then begin to swell, at which point they are immersed in a water bath, to which a chemical solvent has been previously added. The most commonly used products are dichloromethane and ethyl acetate, which are used to extract the caffeine.

 

CARBON DIOXIDE DECAFFEINATION

Supercritical carbon dioxide decaffeination is a more modern and technical process. Like the solvent method, the coffee beans are subjected to a steam bath to increase their volume and facilitate the penetration of carbon dioxide. The caffeine dissolves in the 250 bar pressurized environment and the elements that make up the carbon dioxide.

WATER DECAFFEINATION WITHOUT CHEMICALS

It is also possible to obtain decaffeinated coffee by using a natural distillation without chemicals. Natural methods simply refer to all processes that do not include chemical solvents. As we are committed to environmentally friendly consumption, this is naturally the method we have chosen to follow at Kabioca.

Decaffeination with water is definitely the longest method, but also the most environmentally friendly. During this technique, the green beans are immersed in water for about ten hours. As caffeine is naturally soluble in water, the water will gradually become loaded with caffeine and thus extract almost all the caffeine from the beans. Afterwards, the soaking water must be passed through an activated carbon filter, which will allow the caffeine to be collected. The remaining water will be re-injected into the bath and this circuit will be repeated until the desired caffeine concentration is reached.

If you would like to know more about our manufacturing process for our plant-based and biodegradable coffee capsules, please send us your message via our contact form.. We will be happy to answer all your questions.

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