Monday, May 17, 2010

Decaffeinating Coffee

Frothy Americano and Chocolate TartImage by Carsten Knoch via Flickr

There are two types of coffee. There is the kind that has caffeine while there are those that are decaffeinated. Both these varieties come from the same beans. The difference is in the process of removing it.
The term decaffeinated is a misconception because there is still 3% in the coffee beans. It is like saying cookie companies coming out with products that are fat free.
Farmers produce decaffeinated coffee by soaking this in water. This can even be mixed with a chemical called ethyl acetate. The only way to preserve the flavor without the caffeine is to dry it before this is packed.
Why ethyl acetate? This is because scientists have proven this chemical to be a natural solvent. There was a time that trichloroethylene and methylene chloride was used but studies have shown that these are carcinogens that later on were abandoned.
There is an indirect way of using this chemical, which is known as natural decaffeination. The beans are still mixed in water but ethyl acetate never interacts with the beans.
The key to this process is water. Most farms use pure water and not the filtered kind because tests have shown that it robs the beans of the desired flavor that consumers still like without the caffeine.
Since it is a hit or miss, when this happens, farmers have tried another method and this involves the use of carbon dioxide. This is heated later on to make this evaporate which has proven to be very effective.
Studies have shown that charcoal and carbon are useful in decaffeinating coffee. This practice originated in Switzerland and thus is called the Swiss Water Process.
People will be able to know how the coffee was decaffeinated since this is written in the product label. If there are any other questions that the customer would like to know there is usually a customer hotline printed on the package which can be called to speak to a representative.
The process of decaffeinating has paved the way for more to drink coffee. This has allowed coffee companies and cafes to offer this in cold beverages aside from the warm ones always being served.
Decaffeination does not mean teens can start drinking coffee. This is because as stated earlier, there are still elements of this ingredient in it, which is harmful for the growth of the individual.

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