not all who wander are lost.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Decaffeinated Caffeine

The morning cup of coffee has an exhilaration about it which the cheering influence of the afternoon or evening cup of tea cannot be expected to reproduce.

~Oliver Wendell Holmes, 1891

I was sitting with my Dad this morning after a lovely morning yoga session followed by a not-so-fantastic-but-enjoyable-anyways surf session. I was preparing myself a high-test latte, steaming the "Organic Grass Fed Lactose-Free 2% Milk" that we now use. I asked my dad, who was sipping a cup of decaf, how they made regular milk into LACTOSE-FREE milk. He said "I dunno, how do they make CAFFEINATED coffee DECAFFEINATED?" Intrigued and excited for a research mission I began scouring the web. Well here ya have it {thanks to}:

In the case of coffee, various methods can be used. The process is usually performed on unroasted (green) beans, and starts with steaming of the beans. They are then rinsed with a solvent that extracts the caffeine while leaving the other essential chemicals in the coffee beans. The process is repeated anywhere from 8 to 12 times until it meets either the international standard of having removed 97% of the caffeine in the beans or the EU standard of having the beans 99.9% caffeine-free by mass. Coffee contains over 400 chemicals important to the taste and aroma of the final drink: it is, therefore, challenging to remove only caffeine while leaving the other chemicals at their original concentrations. For those who are worried about the use of chemicals in coffee, there is little cause for concern. During the roasting process, the chemicals are removed so there is no risk to the person drinking it. Using the natural products and steam is a better method of creating decaf coffee and continues to allow a rich, delicious flavor. There are several different processes used to treat the caffeinated coffee to remove caffeine:

Swiss Water Process

The Swiss Water Process is a method of decaffeinating coffee beans developed by the Swiss Water Decaffeinated Coffee Company. To decaffeinate the coffee bean by the Swiss Water method, a batch of green (unroasted) beans is soaked in hot water, releasing caffeine. When all the caffeine and coffee solids are released into the water, the beans are discarded. The water then passes through a carbon filter that traps caffeine but lets the coffee solids pass through. The resulting solution, called "green coffee extract (GCE)" by the company, is now available for decaffeinating coffee. New green coffee beans are introduced to the GCE. Since the GCE is coffee solids without caffeine only the caffeine diffuses from the new beans. The GCE passes through proprietary carbon which captures the caffeine. The process repeats, filtering out all the caffeine until the beans are 99.9% caffeine-free. These beans are removed and dried, and thus retain most if not all of their flavor.

Although the process was pioneered in Switzerland in the 1930s, today the world's only Swiss Water Process decaffeination facility is based near Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.[2]

Direct method

In the direct method, the coffee beans are first steamed for 30 minutes and then repeatedly rinsed with either dichloromethane or ethyl acetate for about 10 hours. The solvent is then drained away and the beans steamed for an additional 10 hours to remove residual solvent. Sometimes coffees that are decaffeinated using ethyl acetate are referred to as naturally processed because ethyl acetate can be derived from various fruits or vegetables; but, because of the impracticality of gathering natural ethyl acetate, the chemical used for decaffeination is synthetic.

Indirect method

In the indirect method, beans are first soaked in hot water for several hours, in essence, making a strong pot of coffee. Then the beans are removed and either dichloromethane or ethyl acetate is used to extract the caffeine from the water. As in other methods, the caffeine can then be separated from the organic solvent by simple evaporation. The same water is recycled through this two-step process with new batches of beans. An equilibrium is reached after several cycles, where the water and the beans have a similar composition except for the caffeine. After this point, the caffeine is the only material removed from the beans, so no coffee strength or other flavorings are lost. Because water is used in the initial phase of this process, sometimes indirect method decaffeination is referred to as "water-processed" even though chemicals are used.

CO2 process

This process is technically known as supercritical fluid extraction. Pre-steamed beans are soaked in a bath of supercritical carbon dioxide at a pressure of 73 to 300 atmospheres. After a thorough soaking for around ten hours, the pressure is reduced, allowing the CO2 to evaporate, or the pressurized CO2 is run through either water or charcoal filters to remove the caffeine. The carbon dioxide is then used on another batch of beans.[3] This liquid works better than water because it is kept in supercritical state near the transition from liquid to gas, combining favorable diffusivity properties of the gas with increased density of a liquid. This process has the advantage that it avoids the use of potentially harmful solvents.

Triglyceride process

Green coffee beans are soaked in a hot water/coffee solution to draw the caffeine to the surface of the beans. Next, the beans are transferred to another container and immersed in coffee oils that were obtained from spent coffee grounds.

After several hours of high temperatures, the triglycerides in the oils remove the caffeine—but not the flavor elements—from the beans. The beans are separated from the oils and dried. The caffeine is removed from the oils, which are reused to decaffeinate another batch of beans. This is a direct-contact method of decaffeination.

**If you hate the idea of your decaf coffee being so processed but still don't want the jitters that you get from regular coffee - reach for some COFFEA ARABICA. Discovered in Ethiopia in 2004, this coffee bean has about half the caffeine as other coffees.

While doing my research I came across a funny quote that Bob Irwin said about decaf coffee:
"Decaffeinated coffee is like kissing your sister" haha. It's just not right!

Oh, and by the way, they make Lactose Free Milk by adding the lactase enzyme to regular milk.
Lactase breaks down lactose into the two simple sugars--galactose and glucose--which combine to form it. The resulting milk is usually sweeter than regular milk due to the fact that these two sugars are sweeter separately than they are when combined into lactose.

No comments:

Post a Comment