This is probably one of the most common questions among coffee drinkers or even those who are just interested in starting to drink coffee due to the fact that over-consuming caffeine has been proven to have negative effects to our health. Therefore, decaffeinated coffee has started to get tons of attention.
However, a new set of questions suddenly arose with this. Does that mean decaffeinated coffee has fewer or less effective health benefits? Or does that mean that decaffeinated coffee is a healthier and better alternative?
To answer that question, first, we need to understand how decaffeination works.
The Process of Decaffeination
Decaffeination started in the early 1900s when Ludwig Roselius, a coffee merchant, accidentally discovered it. It happened after one of his coffee bean shipments were soaked in seawater during transit which naturally extracted some of the caffeine from them.
After that incident, he began decaffeinating coffee using his own patented method using a chemical solvent called benzene. That chemical, however, is proven to have adverse effects to our body.
Fortunately, however, modern decaffeination techniques are much safer.
Today, there are several methods of removing caffeine from green, unroasted coffee beans.
One is by using a chemical solvent called methylene chloride (or dichloromethane). Although it also is a chemical solvent, it’s not as dangerous as benzene, the earliest solvent used for decaf. However, high amounts of methylene chloride can have health risks, that’s why there’s an FDA regulation in place to ensure that only proper amounts of this chemical are used and present in decaffeinated coffee.
Another one is called the ethyl acetate method. Here, coffee beans are steamed for 30 minutes to open their pores. Then, they will be repeatedly rinsed with either methylene chloride or ethyl acetate for ten hours. The rinsing is what removes the caffeine.
There’s another method called swiss water process (SWP for short) which was “invented” in Switzerland, hence the name. In this method, the beans are soaked in very hot water to remove the caffeine. Once enough time passes, the water is separated from the beans. The beans are now flavorless, while the water has everything the beans have and from that, it is then again filtered to remove caffeine molecules and what’s left is the green coffee extract and this extract is used to remove caffeine from a new set of fresh coffee beans.
It is important to note that none of today’s existing decaf method removes 100% of all caffeine. That means your decaf coffee actually contains a little amount of caffeine.
Are There Risks?
Now that you’ve learned how decaf works, you know that some of the methods are using chemicals (SWP is relatively 100% safe, but it’s quite hard and expensive to do). And we’ll be frank to you: increased intake of chemicals used in decaf poses health risks. Luckily, however, the FDA has concluded that the trace amounts of them you get in decaf coffee are negligible. In addition to that, there is a regulation in place that the chemicals should be no more than 0.001% of the final product.
Decaf or Not?
Now that we understand that decaf coffee poses fewer health risks than regular coffee due to massively reduced caffeine, the question seems obvious: you should drink decaf. But that’s not really the case at all.
While many people would want to and will probably benefit from decaf coffee, regular coffee is still superior when it comes to benefits and effects, provided that it is consumed in safe amounts.
Regular coffee, which decaf can’t, can help you improve your mood, reaction time, memory and mental function, help burn fats, increase metabolism, reduce the risk of mild depression and many others. This is because of the higher presence of caffeine, which is proven to provide us with many health benefits when consumed in moderation.
Of course, decaf coffee won’t lose. Decaf is perfect for those who have problems with caffeine looking to enjoy a cup of coffee along with the majority of its health benefits. Examples are people who are sensitive to caffeine or those who have certain medical conditions. In addition to that, decaf coffee allows pregnant women to enjoy coffee via decaf versions.
Coffee is one of the most popular and healthiest beverages on the planet. It’s loaded with antioxidants and is packed with energy (especially regular coffee) that it’ll make your day a whole lot better. That’s why here, at Taza Coffee, offers you only the best decaf and regular coffee along with additional mood boosters to make your day a whole lot better!