Caffeine has become America's most popular drug by far. 90% of Americans consume caffeine in one form or another every single day. Most of it comes from drinking coffee.
But if you're a coffee lover who prefers to avoid caffeine, you can still enjoy a cup of coffee that delivers rich flavor with decaffeinated coffee.
It's how caffeine is extracted from coffee beans that is a mystery for most of us.
These are some of methods currently used for decaffeinating.
Direct Contact Method
In direct contact method beans come directly in contact with decaffeinating agents, such as methylene chloride, after being softened by water or steam. Caffeine is removed by directly soaking materials in methylene chloride.
Indirect Contact Method
With indirect contact method a water and coffee solution is used to draw off caffeine. The solution containing caffeine is then treated with a decaffeinating agent, such as ethyl acetate, and mixed back into beans for reabsorption of flavorings.
Sometimes this method is referred to as naturally decaffeinated because ethyl acetate is a chemical found naturally in many fruits.
This process is similar to indirect method, except no chemicals are used. The coffee beans are soaked in hot water then solution is passed through a carbon filter to remove caffeine.
Swiss Water Process
In Swiss Water Process method, caffeine is still extracted with carbon filters but beans soak in hot water that is saturated with coffee flavor. The result is caffeine removal without removing coffee flavors.
It's referred to as Swiss Water Process because a Swiss company originally developed and patented procedure.
Carbon Dioxide Processing
With this method beans are soaked with water-softened materials in highly compressed carbon dioxide. The small caffeine molecules are extracted from beans allowing larger flavor molecules to remain untouched. This method retains best overall flavor of all of methods used.