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Understanding decaf coffee

Updated on August 4, 2016

What is decaf?

How do you decaffeinate coffee? Well, there are plenty of different processes, but the most popular will make you cringe. The caffeine is removed from green coffee beans, before they are roasted. Usually the beans are washed with water and chemical methyl chloride. It sounds nefarious and there are so concerns about its safety, which is why you should always stick to naturally decaffeinated coffee.

What is naturally decaffeinated coffee?

Naturally decaffeinated coffee just means the caffeine has been removed from the coffee beans without chemicals. For most producers, that means washing them with water and a plant hormone called ethyl acetate or carbon dioxide. After that the beans are roasted normally, but they have a considerably shorter shelf life, which is something to bear in mind.

How do I choose my decaf coffee?

Just because you're drinking decaf coffee doesn't mean it has to be rubbish. A lot of coffee producers put as much work into their decaf coffee as they do their regular stuff. Italian brands like Gimoka and Gran Caffè Garibaldi take their decaf coffee seriously. Their Nespresso compatible capsule range includes a select decaf label that is flavoured with notes of apricots and brown sugar. On the tastebuds, the flavour is the same as a normal coffee and the aromas are just as enticing. The only difference is that it won't keep you awake at night. Sound pretty appealing right? Well that's what you need to look for when buying decaf. Don't sell yourself short.

Does decaf mean no caffeine?

Finally, to debunk a myth. Decaf coffee is not completely caffeine free. Nothing can ever rid coffee or tea of all its caffeine. In the very best case scenario, 97% of the caffeine is removed. So that means you still have to be careful when you drink it. Decaf coffee is still not suitable for kids and if you suffer from insomnia, not a great choice before you go to bed.


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