Coffee is famous for many reasons around the world. It is appreciated for its flavors, unique nutrition, health benefits and most importantly losing sleep. Thanks to the invention of decaf coffee we are able to enjoy our favorite beverage without compromising our sleep. How is decaf coffee made and what is the process? Here are some of the burning questions answered.
What is decaf coffee?
It is said that in 1819 a German author who is also interested in natural sciences gave a box of coffee beans to a chemist known as Ferdinand Runge to find out “why these beans are keeping him awake at night.” Runge was able to isolate caffeine from the bean years later.
To understand what is exactly meant by decaf coffee let’s look at the term caffeine. Caffeine is a chemical compound that is present in coffee, tea, etc. It is known for its cognitive functions such as increasing alertness and attention as well as performance. It is the compound in coffee that reacts with the brain slowing down and distracting the circadian rhythm or the body clock.
How does caffeine affect sleep?
In the brain, there are receptors called adenosine receptors. These receptors promote a sleeping mechanism when we are awake and they build up while our body is functioning awake. The more the receptors build up the chemical the sleepier we feel. What caffeine does is that it blocks this process and makes the brain remain vigilant and effective.
So back to decaf coffee, it is a regular coffee that is consumed that has gone through a process of caffeine removal. This process is successful in extracting caffeine from coffee to 97%. This caffeine removal process is complex and does hurt the flavor of the coffee that is inside the bean and a lack of sweetness and flavor can be expected. Therefore it is important to consider buying specialty decaf coffee. But with modern science and technology, the caffeine extraction process is now more efficient while protecting its flavor and sweetness.
What is decaffeination
Decaffeination is the process of removing caffeine from coffee beans. Mostly decaffeination is done with coffee that lacks flavor as the process of removing caffeine from flavor-rich coffee is complex. There are many methods of decaffeination and these methods are introduced lately to get effective extraction while preserving the flavor and the sweetness.
How is decaf coffee made?
One of the most common methods of decaffeination is where the coffee beans are steamed and washed thoroughly with a chemical solvent which can be ethyl acetate or methylene chloride. This rinsing will remove the caffeine directly. It is also done by an indirect method where the chemical will not be in touch with the beans but will react with water where the beans are steamed.
After the successful removal from the water with an appropriate solvent the beans are then introduced again to a natural bean-flavored solution which allows the beans to absorb the natural oils and bring the flavor back. After this, the solvent is then again washed and rinsed then evaporated from the beans, and in the process of roasting, it is furthermore vaporized where you can only find the smallest amounts that can be safe for consumption.
There is also another method called the Swiss water process which is mainly used with water and carbon filtering. This method mostly preserves its flavors and will not need to reintroduce any flavor solvent for the beans again. This method is mostly used for organic coffee beans.
There is also an additional method, carbon dioxide is used under high temperature and pressure levels which will act as both gas and liquid this will crawl its way into the coffee bean in the form of gas but caffeine will be dissolved in the form of a liquid. By using this method mostly carbohydrates and proteins are left in the bin and you can only notice a slight change in the test or not at all.
How much caffeine is in decaf coffee
As stated above it is mostly observed that 97% of caffeine is removed from the coffee beans with a slight compromise of flavor and sweetness. However, your daily decaf coffee cup will have around 2 mg of caffeine which is an immense reduction from the regular cup of coffee which is around 95 mg of caffeine.
Is decaf coffee good for you?
The simple and quick answer is yes decaf coffee is very much healthy and the process of making the decaffeinated coffee is completely safe more than 97% of caffeine is removed and these beans are washed and steamed to a standard and exposed to a range of temperatures were the necessary chemicals in the decaffeination is removed completely. However, no coffee company will disclose any information regarding their caffeine extraction process other than a handful.
Mental conditions that are known with aging such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are rare among regular coffee consumers as it helps to prevent these diseases.
The intake of coffee has been known to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and it’s not entirely caffeine that’s helping but also other included elements. Studies have shown a decrease in acid reflux conditions when decaf is consumed compared to regular coffee. Lowering the risk of rectal cancer (48%) is also stated if 2 or more cups are consumed.
Coffee has many health benefits, but regular intake of coffee (400mg = 4 Cups) can put you at risk of bad health conditions ranging from blood pressure to a stroke. Caffeine-sensitive people can avoid regular coffee and choose decaf instead as a solution. It is healthy to consume decaf and prevent the side effects from coffee and as a healthy drink regular or decaf can provide health benefits if consumed to the standard level.
PubMed.gov – Caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: a systematic review and a dose-response meta-analysis
PubMed.gov – Effects of caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee on biological risk factors for type 2 diabetes: a randomized controlled trial
PubMed.gov – Caffeinated coffee, decaffeinated coffee, and the phenolic phytochemical chlorogenic acid up-regulate NQO1 expression and prevent H₂O₂-induced apoptosis in primary cortical neurons