September 02, 2020

What's in Your Decaf Coffee?

All about the different processes to decaffeinate coffee, what chemicals can be used to decaffeinate coffee and which process may be safer.

I love coffee and drink it every single morning. When we go out to coffee shops, I often order my coffee with half decaffeinated coffee because too much caffeine at once makes me feel jittery. Years ago, I learned that there are two processes to decaffeinate coffee. One is possibly a more safe and healthier choice than the other. Today, I am going to share about the Clean Label Project and how to know if there are chemicals in your decaf coffee.

Ways to Decaffeinate Coffee

This graphic explains the two different ways to decaffeinate coffee. Non-solvent based decaffeination and solvent-based decaffeination. The non-solvent way uses water, time and temperature. This way can be criticized because it can make the coffee lose flavor but the Swiss Water process helps with that. I personally have had decaf coffee using the Swiss Water process and it is very good!

The solvent-based decaffeination uses chemicals or carbon dioxide to make decaf coffee. The beans are often submerged right into the chemicals. Many coffee companies have switched from this method but some have not. Common chemicals used are methylene chloride and ethyl acetate. 

S'mores Latte

The Clean Label Project's mission is to raise awareness about this method of decaffeinating coffee so that consumers know about this potentially dangerous method. I honestly did not know about the decaffeination process until about 5 years ago so I am guessing that a lot of other people may not know about it either. The Clean Label Project wants brands to share if they use this method of decaffeinating coffee so that consumers can make informed decisions if they are okay with this or not. If they are not, they may want to choose a different brand of coffee that uses the non-solvent based decaffeination. 

Many of the people who drink decaf coffee are vulnerable populations like pregnant women, the elderly and those with heart problems. It is not for sure that these chemicals cause problems but some of these people may have a preference to having coffee without these chemicals.

Brands that have Methylene Chloride Detected in their Decaf Coffee

Since there are many brands shown here that do not have methylene chloride in them, I would probably just choose the brands that don't have it as a personal decision. 

I do think that it is important for us, the consumers to be able to make informed decisions and brands disclosing what process they use to decaffeinate their coffee can help us be able to do that.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by the Clean Label Project. All opinions are my own.

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