Coffee beans are naturally full of caffeine, so to sell decaffeinated coffee, the beans have to have the caffeine physically removed from them (at least as much as possible). So how is this not-so-modern marvel accomplished?
There are actually four ways coffee roasters can decaffeinate their blends: a direct method, an indirect method, a water process, and a supercritical process.
First, roasters soften green coffee beans with steam, and then they apply a solvent that literally bonds to caffeine molecules directly to the beans. They then rinse the beans, effectively washing away both the solvent and the caffeine.
There are different types of FDA-approved solvents for this method, but the only one that can claim the label of “naturally decaffeinated” is ethyl acetate, which occurs naturally in some fruits. Continue reading