In the past few years, there have been a lot of discussions on the impact of caffeine on our health. The pros and cons of caffeine are discussed in the Health section. The controversies associated with caffeine continue to be a subject of debate and research.
Decaffeination is the process during which caffeine is removed from coffee beans. Dr. Ludwig Roselius of Germany was the first to successfully develop a technique to decaffeinate coffee without compromising on quality or flavour.
Coffee with at least 97% caffeine removed is labelled decaffeinated. A decaffeinated eight-ounce cup of coffee contains no more than 5 milligrams of caffeine, compared to the range of 40-180 mg of caffeine found in an equivalent cup of brewed, dripped or espresso coffee. In contrast, decaffeinated coffee costs more than regular coffee. The difference in the price is to account for the extra processing charges incurred by the manufacturer to reduce the caffeine level. The trend to drink decaffeinated coffee is currently on the rise. Consequently, the revenue generated by coffee companies selling decaffeinated coffee is also on the increase.
There are three methods of decaffeination: water decaffeination, supercritical carbon diozide decaffeination and solvent decaffeination.
Water decaffeination is the most popularly employed method to decaffeinate coffee. This method simply uses water to extract caffeine from coffee without using any chemical solvents. One of the most famous water decaffeination methods is called Swiss Water decaffeination. This non-toxic process does not compromise the flavour and aroma of the coffee beans.
Supercritical carbon dioxide decaffeination
This method used carbon dioxide to remove caffeine. In this process, the combination of high temperature and pressure enables carbon dioxide to become a solvent. The word "supercritical" in this context means the process occurs "above both critical temperature and pressure".
Supercritical carbon dioxide method is said to be the best of the chemical decaffeination processes currently in use. This method uses carbon dioxide, which is more stable than the other chemicals employed for caffeine extraction. Residual carbon dioxide can be safely vented into the atmosphere without any harmful effects on the environment. In addition, precise control over temperature and pressure can selectively remove caffeine leaving most, if not all, of the flavour intact. Removing 97-99% of a coffee's caffeine is possible employing this method. In addition, this method leaves behind little or no toxic residue and is therefore not usually a health concern.
The disadvantages of using this method include the fact that it's rather costly, since the high pressure used requires expensive equipment.
This is the oldest method used to extract caffeine from coffee. This process involves soaking coffee beans in a caffeine-absorbing solvent. The caffeine soaks into the solvent and the solvent containing the caffeine is separated from the beans. The process of soaking and extraction is repeated until the caffeine level reaches the desired level.
This method of extraction is the least desired method as the solvents used have the potential of leaving behind a toxic residue in the beans.
After the coffee beans have been decaffeinated, they're passed onto the roasting process.
Today, thanks to advanced methods and techniques, customers can choose from a wide assortment of high quality decaffeinated coffee. With the current trends in health awareness, the decaffeinated coffee industry is poised to grow immensely.
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