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Decaffeinated coffee

Decaffeinated coffee

Decaffeinated coffee is becoming a common afternoon ritual for some, or a health "compulsion" for others.

Most of you love the taste and smell of coffee, but don't want to suffer the negative effects of caffeine on your body or your sleep.

Decaf is the obvious choice!

But what exactly is a decaffeinated coffee? And how do you get it? Does it have the same benefits and flavors as a normal coffee?

We help you find the answer to your questions in this article.

What is a decaffeinated coffee?

A decaffeinated coffee, or decaf for those who know it well, is a coffee where 97% of the caffeine has been removed using different extraction mechanisms. We go from a cup with a caffeine content between 70 and 140 mg, to a cup between 0 and 7 mg. A cup of decaffeinated coffee is therefore not entirely caffeine-free, and people who are very sensitive to caffeine should still avoid decaffeinated coffees. However, the difference is obvious enough that it can have an impact on your body if you have sleeping problems.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of decaffeinated coffee?

Some of the advantages may seem quite obvious. The main one being the low level of caffeine. This is already a big advantage for people whose metabolism does not assimilate caffeine well. However, you should not increase your coffee consumption because it is decaffeinated! As mentioned above, there is still some caffeine in it, and consuming it excessively will bring you the same effects as a traditional coffee.

From a health point of view, decaffeinated coffee affects much less the adenosine present in our nervous system: it is a biochemical compound that modulates our wakefulness and sleep cycles. So you can have a decaffeinated coffee at the end of the day without affecting your sleep.

It also retains all the health benefits of regular coffee. Coffee is rich in magnesium, which helps improve cardiovascular and brain function, and reduce the risk of diabetes. And components found in both classic and decaffeinated coffee (lignans and chlorogenic acid) have positive effects on glucose metabolism, thus reducing oxidative stress in the body. It also helps protect your liver, thanks to diterpenes, cafestol and kahweol, all 3 present in classic coffee, and which have protective effects against aflatoxin, a toxin harmful to the liver.

Decaffeinated coffee also contains many minerals and vitamins such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, sodium and vitamin B3.

One of the big advantages is that decaffeinated coffee retains the nutritional and health values of a classic coffee, as well as the taste, since the coffee beans are decaffeinated before being roasted and ground.

As for the disadvantages, they are the same as for a classic coffee.

For example, coffee reduces the body's absorption of calcium, with a loss of about 4 to 6 mg of calcium per cup of coffee, which increases the risk of fracture.

Coffee also affects the absorption of non-heme iron (from plants), a problem that especially affects women. It is therefore advisable to drink coffee (decaffeinated or not) about 1 hour before or 2 hours after meals, so as not to inhibit iron absorption by the body.

In summary, a decaffeinated coffee retains all the benefits of a classic coffee, even if the nutritional values may be slightly reduced during the decaffeination process, while having a low caffeine content. The disadvantages are the same as for classic coffee.

How is coffee decaffeinated?

Decaffeinated coffees appeared at the beginning of the 20th century. Decaffeinating a coffee without altering its flavors is a challenge. Indeed, coffee remains a fruit and is sensitive to handling. It is therefore a delicate and somewhat traumatic process for a coffee bean.

There are two recognized processes to decaffeinate coffee: the chemical process and the natural process.


We reassure you to begin with, the standards governing the chemical decaffeination process are very strict. They guarantee a minimal level of chemicals that remain in the bean, and have no impact on your health. There are two methods for this process:

  • The indirect, or European method.
This is probably the best method of the chemical process.
The green beans are soaked in vats of very hot water, which removes the caffeine and the oils filled with flavors. Chemical solvent is then added to this water. As with CO2, the chemical solvent attaches to the caffeine. The water is heated to a high temperature so that it evaporates with the caffeine, while retaining the oils. The decaffeinated and flavourless beans are then immersed in new tanks of water and the oils are added. The oils are then added back into the beans.

  • The chemical method
This is the cheapest and fastest method, and therefore the most widely used in the trade. The chemical solvents chosen are usually ethyl acetate or methylene chloride.
The beans are steamed to make them larger, giving the solvent more surface area to decaffeinate the beans. The coffee beans are then immersed in a tank of water containing the chemical solvent. The beans are filtered and then steam treated to remove any remaining water or chemical solvent residue.

After decaffeination, and regardless of the method chosen, the coffee beans are dried so that they regain a normal moisture content, and then roasted.


As its name indicates, the so-called "natural" process does not involve any chemicals. There are three methods, which are the only ones that can produce certified organic coffee, and which best preserve the coffee's aromas.

  • The CO2 method

The carbon dioxide method is similar to the one done with chemical solvents. It is also rather expensive if it is not used for large quantities. It consists in soaking the green grains in tanks of hot water. CO2 is then circulated at high pressure in the tanks. The CO2 attaches to the caffeine, which is removed from the beans at the same time. The beans are then filtered, and the water is heated at high temperature to evaporate the CO2, and keep the caffeine. It can also be passed through an activated carbon filter.

  • The Swiss Water Method (Swiss Water® Process)

This is THE most sought after and most often used method by micro roasters because it uses no chemicals, which preserves the coffee's aroma much better, and it removes 99.99% of the caffeine. Contrary to what one might think, this method does not mean a magical rinsing of the beans with Swiss spring water, but it does originate in Switzerland. This is the longest method, it takes several dozen hours for the whole process.

One of the big advantages of this method is the recovery of the waste water and caffeine. Since at the end of the process the water is still saturated with coffee particles, it can be used again, and the caffeine is then used for the pharmaceutical and food industries.

It is also interesting to know that a similar, but less common, process exists: the mountain water method. The soaking water is made of glacier water, which makes the final product even more pure.

Note that Swiss Water® is a registered trademark, which assures you of the quality of the decaffeinated coffee used thanks to the process logo.

In the process, the green beans are soaked in hot water. The caffeine and oils in the coffee are then removed from the beans. The soaking water then passes through an activated carbon filter. This filter allows the caffeine to be collected without blocking the oils. The soaking water, saturated with oils, no longer contains caffeine. Thus, when new beans are soaked, they will let the caffeine escape, but not the oils. We continue to use this water to decaffeinate batches of beans, one after the other! A nice ecological method!

  • The cane sugar method

Also called the ethyl acetate method, this method is created from fermented molasses extracted from sugar cane. The fermentation of the molasses will naturally create ethanol, which will then be combined with vinegar (acetic acid) to create ethyl acetate (E.A.)

As for the other processes, the coffee beans are subjected to hot steam to help extract the caffeine. They are then immersed in a vat of water mixed with ethyl acetate obtained from sugar cane. This natural solvent will bind with the chlorogenic acids of the coffee and release the caffeine. This operation is repeated for 8 hours. The coffee is then rinsed thoroughly with clear water to eliminate the excess ethyl acetate.

Our decaffeinated coffee beans

Structure Torréfacteur Décaf

Structure Roasters | Decaf - 340 gr,

A very successful decaffeinated coffee, with an advanced roasting. In espresso, it will give you a silky body and chocolate notes. But it is also very good in filter, releasing notes of milk chocolate and dulce de leche.


Faro Colombian Burning Plants Natural decaffeinated with cane sugar 454 gr

Brûleries Faro | Colombian Natural decaffeinated with cane sugar - 454 gr,
$ 19,99

The caramel and cookie/pastry flavors are strong, with a little touch of citrus leaving a smooth and pleasant finish.


Café Napoléon Décaféiné à l'eau mi-noir 454 gr

Napoleon Coffee | Decaffeinated Medium Dark 454 gr,
$ 15,75

A decaffeinated coffee with water half-black originating from South America, with aromas of chocolate and nut.

Good acidity and light body.

1 comment on Decaffeinated coffee
  • Michel Tauxe, Freeport, Bahamas
    Michel Tauxe, Freeport, BahamasMarch 01, 2023

    Bonjour, Merci pour votre excellent article qui permet de comprendre aisément les procédés de décaféinisation.
    J’aimerai savoir si vous vendez également du café 100% biologique certifié.

    Merci pour votre réponse. Cordiales salutations.

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