Coffee beans absolutely love growing in Colombia. Climbing altitudes high above sea level, moderate temperatures that bring out a smooth taste, ideal rainfall that keeps the soil moist to promote steady crop growth, and a sunny sky to develop wonderful flavors. We’ve written about our Colombia in the past, today we’re going to focus on our Colombia EA Decaf, or Ethyl Acetate. What is Ethyl Acetate? How is it used to remove the caffeine? These are the kinds of questions we’re going to be answering in this blog.
The first coffee beans were decaffeinated by accident in the early 1900’s. A German merchant Ludwig Roselius received a shipment of green beans that had been soaked in salt water during the voyage across the sea. He processed the beans like normal, and discovered a salty, but decaffeinated coffee.
As much as ‘Salt-Water Decaf” might be an interesting selling point, it’s not a common method these days. The first, “Roselius Process” involved a solvent called benzene, that is no longer used due to it being carcinogenic. Most likely this is where any stigma around decaf coffee came from. Three common methods we’re focusing on today are: the Swiss Water Method, Ethyl Acetate, and Methylene Chloride. None of these methods have been shown to be harmful to the coffee or the human body.
The Swiss Water Method involves first soaking dried green coffee beans in filtered water. This hydrates and cleans the beans. Then the beans are circulated in GCE (Green Coffee Extract), Swiss Water’s proprietary product that is a concentrated liquid made up of all the soluble solids within coffee minus the caffeine. After 10 hours of circulation in GCE, all but 0.1% of caffeine has been removed from the green coffee. Then caffeine is removed from the GCE through a proprietary carbon filter system. The GCE is always being refreshed and maintained for reuse. Then the beans are dried, bagged and shipped.
ETHYL ACETATE (EA) OR SUGARCANE PROCESSED
Not only does the EA method use naturally derived compounds, but it also preserves more nuanced flavors in coffee than other methods. EA is made from ethyl alcohol, a by-product of rum production (this is where the sugarcane process gets its name), and Acetic Acid, which occurs naturally in vinegar and certain rotting fruits.
Green coffee beans are steamed and then submerged in an EA solution. While submerged, the EA bonds to the caffeine and removes it from the bean. The process repeats for 8-10 hours with fresh EA until almost all the caffeine is removed. The beans are then steamed again to remove the remaining traces of EA. Once dried and polished. they are ready to be shipped.
METHYLENE CHLORIDE (MC)
The amount of MC used in this process is less than 100 ppm than the amount allowed by the FDA deemed safe for decaffeination. This is the most common method of decaffeination. Beans are first soaked in water to remove the caffeine into the water. Once the caffeine has been extracted, it’s then treated with MC which bonds to the caffeine. The bonded caffeine and MC are then removed, and the remaining liquid reintroduced to the beans. Once dried and polished they are ready to be shipped.
Dilworth used EA and MC decaffeinated coffees. This Colombia is EA processed to preserve the warm smooth richness it has, and pairs so well with a variety of flavors. It’s one of those coffees you can’t tell is decaf because it’s so full of flavor. So, if you want to cut back on your caffeine, you don’t have to sacrifice on body or flavor with our Colombia EA Decaf.