How is decaffeine coffee made?

Coffee’s popularity is unquestionable, given that it is the world’s second most consumed beverage after water. And for all of this, the substance is known as caffeine to thank. Caffeine is a natural stimulant found in various foods and beverages, including coffee, tea, and chocolate. 

It is a psychoactive substance used most often all around the globe, and its primary purpose is to kickstart one’s day. However, this powerful little pick-me-up chemical has some harmful side effects, such as jitters and a collapse in the middle of the day. 

Consider the decaffeinated variety if you want the same delicious taste that everyone else enjoys but without the caffeine-induced jitters. Decaffeine coffee is often defined as coffee that contains just 3% of the caffeine of regular coffee, and it’s unusual to come across a decaf coffee that’s completely decaffeinated.

The precise amount of caffeine that remains in the coffee after it has been decaffeinated is dependent on the process that was employed.

Methods of Decaffeinating Coffee

Caffeine may be extracted from coffee beans using four different processes:

  • The direct solvent process
  • The indirect solvent process
  • The supercritical carbon dioxide process
  • The swiss water technique

To complete these steps, the coffee beans must be left raw. The coffee beans must be in their natural, unroasted green condition during the decaffeination process. This is because the beans will lose not only their caffeine content but also their taste. 

If coffee were roasted before decaffeinated, the finished product would have a flavor similar to that of straw. Methylene chloride or ethyl acetate must be used to complete the solvent procedures. 

Both solvents have scientific names that may be daunting to some people, but the food and drug administration says both are safe to use. The criteria permit an amount of residual methylene of up to 10 parts per million. The techniques used to decaffeinate coffee often demand solutions containing no more than one part per million.

The direct solvent process

The beans are first softened in one of two ways: either by soaking them in water or by steaming them. This makes the procedure of decaffeination simpler. When everything is ready, the coffee beans undergo a process in which they are repeatedly subjected to a solution containing either methylene chloride, ethyl acetate, or solvent. 

This natural approach for eliminating caffeine from coffee is touted since the molecule is present in many fruits. This procedure repeats itself around every ten hours. After the beans have been completely submerged in the solution, they are typically steamed to remove any trace of the solvent that may still be present.

The indirect solvent process

To begin the indirect solvent process, the beans are soaked in water that has been brought to a boil. The water-soluble components, including caffeine and various taste compounds, are extracted from this process. 

After this step, the coffee beans are removed from the liquid, leaving behind all of the water-soluble components of the beans in the liquid. After that, methyl chloride is poured into the drink that has been prepared. As the fluid is heated, the methyl chloride in the solution will cause the caffeine to evaporate. 

The coffee beans are reintroduced to the mixture after the caffeine has been wholly dissolved to reclaim the taste components lost during the first contact with the coffee beans. This ensures that the coffee beans do not come into touch with the chemical. This particular approach is by far the most used one for decaffeinating coffee.

The supercritical carbon dioxide process

To begin, green coffee beans soaked in water are necessary for the supercritical carbon dioxide procedure, just as they are for the other two methods described above. These coffee beans are put inside a vessel made of stainless steel that functions similarly to a pressure cooker. 

After that, the coffee beans are left in the open for ten to twelve hours while subjected to 73 to 300 atmospheres of supercritical extremely compressed carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide transforms when subjected to this pressure, which causes it to take on the characteristics of a liquid despite its state of being a gas. 

Activated charcoal is often used as the filtering medium for the carbon dioxide that has caffeine and is released from the container. Following that step, the carbon dioxide is reintroduced into the stainless steel container so the process may begin again.

The Swiss water technique

Because water is the primary solvent used in the Swiss water process, it is considered the cleanest technique for extracting caffeine from coffee. To begin, the green beans are submerged in a solution consisting of water and green coffee extract for some time. 

After passing through activated charcoal, the answer is filtered, which separates the caffeine from the rest of the combination. After that, the solution is pumped back into the coffee beans until they lose 99% of their caffeine content. 

Which Decaffeinating Method Yields the Best Flavor?

When it comes to taste, decaffeinated coffee presents a challenge for those who drink it. Decaffeinated coffees lack the body and vigor of their caffeinated counterparts. Companies that decaffeinate coffee do their best to restore its characteristics after the process. 

Still, they will never be able to recreate the coffee’s flavor as it was made from the original bean. So, one of these methods yields the best-tasting decaffeinated coffee? You have the last say on this matter. 

Some individuals like the flavor of coffee processed using the indirect solvent technique, which is rather prevalent. However, the swiss water technique is my favorite of all of them. Try out decaf that has gone through the water process if you are looking for a caffeine-free beverage that tastes just as wonderful as regular coffee. 

It is crucial to remember that the taste may be substantially influenced by the roasting process and the technique used to brew the coffee.

Does decaffeinated coffee contain any caffeine?

Although it is called decaf, decaffeinated coffee still contains some trace amounts of caffeine. Therefore, you should still exercise caution if you have a condition preventing you from drinking caffeine, such as high blood pressure or another disease. 

According to the USDA, decaf coffee may still contain up to 3% of the original caffeine. So, let’s assume you have a tall coffee cup, around 350 milliliters in capacity. A cup of this size that is caffeinated would contain 180 milligrams of caffeine, whereas a cup that is supposed to be decaffeinated would still have roughly 5 or 6 milligrams of caffeine in it. 

Recent studies have shown that even decaffeinated coffee still contains trace amounts of caffeine in virtually all varieties. This indicates that about 7 milligrams of caffeine are present in a cup of decaffeinated coffee that is 8 ounces in size. 

If you have a medical condition that has the potential to be affected by caffeine use, you should keep this in mind. This is particularly true for those who suffer from sleeplessness, heart-related disorders, anxiety, and other comparable conditions.

Is decaffeinated coffee safe?

Independent scientific data suggest that coffee, whether it contains caffeine or not, is connected with a wide variety of beneficial effects on health, including an enhanced likelihood of living a longer life and a reduced risk of several malignancies and chronic disorders.

Coffee beans, which aren’t beans, contain caffeine. Many people drink coffee for the caffeine. However, the beans may be processed to eliminate most stimulants, making them safe to drink at night. This is even though many people seek a caffeine jolt when they reach for their cup of joe. 

Caffeine removal from coffee beans may be accomplished by several distinct processes, all of which occur when the beans are in their green state. Because it may be challenging to remove merely the caffeine from coffee without removing any other taste compounds, and decaffeinated beans are notoriously challenging to roast correctly, decaffeination is often associated with a diminished flavor. 

The use of chemical solvents, most often ethyl acetate or methylene chloride, is required to decaffeinate coffee or other beverages. To remove caffeine from coffee beans using the direct approach, the beans are first steamed, then thoroughly washed with the chemical solvent many times. 

In the indirect method, the chemical agent does not come into contact with the beans at any point; instead, it processes the water that is saturated with caffeine, in which the beans have been soaked for several hours. 

After the caffeine in the water has been extracted using the solvent, the bean-flavored solution is returned to the beans. This allows the beans to reabsorb a significant amount of the oils and flavors that were previously extracted. 

The solvents are removed from the green beans through either rinsing or evaporation, and then they are further vaporized during the roasting process. As a result, only the tiniest trace amounts of the solvents, considered safe for consumption, are ever present in the decaffeinated beans you purchase. 

The beans used initially are thrown away, and the flavor-rich water produced as a consequence is referred to as “green coffee extract.” This water is next filtered utilizing a carbon filter that is sized to catch just the giant caffeine molecules. The decaffeinated green coffee extract is put to use in washing and filtering the next batch of beans. 

Caffeine is removed from the beans without resorting to chemical agents and without the beans losing many of the delicious components that contribute to their taste.

The pros and Cons of decaffeine coffee

The fact that decaffeinated coffee does not contain any caffeine is both the beverage’s most significant benefit and its most significant drawback. 

Therefore, if you primarily drink coffee to satisfy your need for caffeine daily, you probably won’t appreciate decaf as much as regular coffee. On the other hand, decaffeinated coffee is the way to go if you like the taste and scent of coffee but want to avoid caffeine’s effects for any reason.

The process of decaffeination itself is at the center of many of the debates that surround the health effects of drinking decaf coffee. 

The Swiss Water Procedure and the liquid CO2 process are considered entirely safe by industry professionals; however, chemical solvents like methylene chloride are not considered secure.


If you are sensitive to caffeine but still love the flavor of coffee, you may want to consider switching to decaffeinated coffee. It is also an excellent substitute when you need to reduce the amount of caffeine you consume, such as when you are pregnant or have insomnia.

There is a trace amount of caffeine in decaffeinated coffee, but if you limit your consumption to one or two cups per day, the amount of caffeine you take in is minimal. Additionally, if you are concerned about the chemical processing of coffee, you should always search for the word organic on the product you purchase.

If, on the other hand, you like drinking coffee primarily for the boost in energy and mental alertness, switching to decaf will not provide the same results. In such a situation, regular coffee is the only option available to you.

In contrast to the consumption of regular coffee, chronic use of 5 cups of decaffeinated coffee/per day resulted in a substantial but modest drop in mean ambulant BP and an increase in heart rate in normotensive men and women.

Higher dosages have been revealed to cause cancer in animal livers and lungs, as well as headaches, disorientation, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and exhaustion. It has also been shown to produce the same symptoms in humans. 

However, in 1999 the FDA concluded that the traces of caffeine in decaffeinated coffee are too little to affect a person’s health.

Although it is less acidic than full-strength coffee, decaf coffee is still cutting naturally. Excessive consumption can erode your teeth’ natural enamel over time, making them more sensitive and susceptible to cavities. Full-strength coffee is acidic in its natural state.