Decaffeinated coffee


The first method of removing caffeine using benzene was patented by German businessman Ludwig Roselius in the early 20th century. This method, which was used from 1905 to the 1940s, was not very healthy because of the dangerous benzene. Decaffeinated coffees were especially popular because caffeine was considered a poison during the Third Reich.

As time went on, new chemical and technological processes began to emerge that were kinder to the coffee bean and to human health. One of them even came from a Czech coffee expert, Zdeněk Žáček.


Nowadays, we can alsofind decaffeinated coffee in theform of various pods and capsules containing coffee from which the caffeine has been chemically removed, but at the same time it is no longer such a problem to find decaffeinated specialty coffee, which, in my opinion, has experienced quite a boom in the last year. The average cup of coffee contains roughly 70-240 mg of caffeine, and decaffeination can remove roughly 97-99.7%. There are three natural methods of caffeine removal nowadays - thesugar cane method, the water method, sometimes referred to as the Swiss wet method, and the carbondioxide method.


This method is no longer new on the market. Decaffeinated coffees using the Swiss method can be found as far back as1988 and its roots go back even further.

How does this method work? The process relies on the solubility of caffeine in water and osmosis. Which means that only certain substances pass through the membrane, or in this case the filter.

At the beginning of the decaffeination process, the green coffee beansare soaked in hot water to dissolve the caffeine. However, caffeine is not the only water-soluble substance found in coffee. But the sugars and other chemical components that create the taste and aroma of the coffee we love can also dissolve in water. The water in which the beans have been steeped is passed through a charcoal filter.

Thecaffeine is a large molecule and so gets trapped in the filter, while the sugars, oils and other chemical elements in the coffee that give it its flavour and aroma pass through and remain in the water, creating what is known as green coffee extract. This water infused with green coffee extract is now used to steep the next batch of green coffee beans. Since the green coffee extract already contains the other flavour elements, these substances are not dissolved from the beans and only the caffeine is removed.

Removing the caffeine from the coffee is always done before roasting. This is also because the coffee comes into contact with water during all methods. After roasting, it is important to store the coffee in a dry place. Source.


This second natural method has become slightly more popular in recent years because is best able to preserve the original rich flavours of coffee. When you see decaffeinated coffee that has been decaffeinated with sugar cane, it is likely to be coffee from Colombia. And it's no different withour decaffeinated coffee, which we roast at Spa. It has a flavor profile of chocolate, cranberry and amaretto and is primarily suited for espresso or perhaps a mocha pot.

Decaffeination using sugar cane is also sometimes found as EA decaffeination. EA, or ethyl acetate, is the substance that makes this whole process work. It is a solvent derived from sugarcane that is an excellent caffeine remover when used under the right conditions and in reasonable amounts. It is not an unfamiliar substance and can be found in wine, beer, fruit and vegetables.

Making decaffeinated coffee using sugar cane :

  1. Expanding the beans
    In the first stage of the process, the beans are exposed to steam to swell the beans and facilitate the extraction of caffeine.
  2. Removing
    The coffee bean is then immersed in ethyl acetate, whereby the caffeine contained in the bean is bound to the liquid, in other words, dissolved into it. This process is repeated six times in succession with fresh liquid.
  3. This produces pure caffeine.
    The beans are washed with water and then steamed.
  4. Drying
    The drying process takes place in vacuum dryers, which allows for fast and uniform drying. With drying, the beans need to be given the same amount of moisture as before.
  5. Cooling
    The grains are then cooled in a ventilated silo to lower their temperature and prevent further moisture loss.
This picture will also give you an idea of how decaffeination works. Source:


This method is the newest of them all. In the carbon dioxide decaffeination process, the green coffee beansare soaked in a highly pressurised carbon dioxide environment at a pressure of 73 to 300 atmospheres for approximately ten hours to extract the caffeine from the beans.

Thepressure is then reduced and theCO2 is either evaporated or passed through water, either in the form of sparkling water or through activated carbon filters. TheCO2 is then reused.

Between95 and 99% of the caffeine is removed by this method, which means that a typical 250 ml cup of coffee ends up containing around 4 mg of caffeine. The captured caffeine is sold to beverage and food supplement companies, which use it in their products.


As coffee consumption grows, so does the popularity of decaffeinated coffee, and it's unlikely to be any different in the next few years. Overall, 12% of all coffee prepared is decaffeinated. So over the last few years, there has been an increase of around 2% and demand is still growing. The interest in decaffeinated coffee is mainly among millennials, who are known for their hectic lives and sometimes not-so-healthy lifestyles.

Decaffeination with carbon dioxide is also likely to become more widespread, as it is still not as common as, for example, with sugar cane.

At the same time, however, removing caffeine is not as easy as it may seem. And although these natural methods are more gentle than the earlier chemical ones, theystill lose some of the beneficial substances that can be found in coffee. And so a mass shift in consumption to decaffeinated coffee is unnecessary. In fact, decaffeinated coffee does not mean healthier, but simply decaffeinated. So unless you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have other health problems or tolerance to caffeine, feel free to indulge in decaffeinated coffee, but in reasonable amounts.