Decaf can sometimes be a bit of an afterthought in the world of coffee, but we believe we should pay just as much attention to sourcing and roasting our Decaf as we do our headline coffees. After all, not everyone can consume caffeine, and why should these people be denied tasty coffee!
Thus, we always use green coffee we’ve bought ourselves, and have it processed by a company called CR3 based near Bremen, Germany. It is a little bit of extra effort for us to send the coffee over, but it’s totally worth it.
CR3 uses CO2 (carbon-dioxide) to extract the caffeine from the green beans. To achieve this, they need to moisten the beans with water first. They then introduce pressurised carbon dioxide (in sub-critical state) which is circulated through the beans. The CO2 selectively picks up caffeine in the beans and is then taken out of the vessel into an evaporator. There, it is evaporated and re-condensated so the caffeine is precipitated from the beans, then CO2 can be re-introduced to the coffee.
This process is repeated over and over again, until the caffeine level in the coffee is less than 0.01%. The great thing about the CO2 process (or: Natural Liquid Carbon Dioxide Coffee Decaffeination Process, as CR3 has patented it) is that carbon dioxide is a 100% natural chemical. It is found everywhere and we consume it daily. It’s in the carbonated water that we drink and in the air that we breathe. So, as opposed to other processes which use products like methylene chloride, it does not leave any toxic material. CO2 also only extracts the caffeine from the coffee beans, leaving all the good stuff. This means that the flavour and aroma compounds stay right where they need to be – inside the bean.
Despite the effort in keeping the original features of the green coffee bean, you might notice that our Decaf still looks different. This is largely due to the moistening of the beans. When we receive the green beans back from CR3 they look darker, and they roast differently. The CO2 also takes some of the water away from inside the beans, which evaporates later, this might be the reason why the beans look and behave differently.
Remember, if you like our decaf coffee we do offer the option to subscribe to it. Just select the ‘Decaf’ option in our subscription wizard.