Full-bodied, dark-roast coffee may contain less caffeine than coffee made from milder, more lightly-roasted beans. In general, Arabica beans tend to have less caffeine but a milder flavor than Robusta beans.
Caffeine is a proven stimulant with confirmed effects on the body:
- Relaxes smooth muscles
- Improves secretory activity
- Acts as an anti-inflammatory agent
- Stimulates heart contraction in both force and rate
- Helps contract skeletal muscle
- Improves attention span
- Lessens fatigue
Decaffeination: Why Drink Decaf?
The health effects of caffeine have been the subject of considerable discussion and research, due mainly to the popularity of coffee (as well as other caffeinated foods and beverages). The majority of scientific literature on caffeine shows that there are no health consequences associated with coffee consumption. However, it is well-known that, depending on the amount consumed, caffeine can be a mild, central nervous system stimulant. Individuals who are particularly caffeine-sensitive, therefore, may prefer to consume decaffeinated coffee, tea or soft drinks.
Definition of “Decaffeinated”
Decaffeination is the separation of caffeine from the beans, seeds or leaves in which it is naturally found. Caffeine is a natural component of coffee beans, therefore it is very difficult to completely remove caffeine from them. However, the coffee industry and many governments around the world have established standards and regulations which define the maximum amounts of caffeine permitted in decaffeinated instant, roast and ground coffee. Decaffeinated coffee in the United States must have at least 97% of the caffeine originally present in the coffee beans removed.
The Decaffeination Process
There are three common methods used to decaffeinate the coffee that GMCR uses — natural, direct and water process.
Natural Process: Beans are first steamed or soaked in water to enable easier and faster extraction of caffeine. The caffeine is then drawn out of the coffee beans by a combination of ethyl acetate and water. The beans are finally steamed to remove any residue and gently dried for roasting. The process is based on physical transportation rather than a chemical process. Ethyl acetate is a natural compound found in vegetables and fruits like apples and blackberries.
Direct Process: Beans are first steamed or soaked in water. A decaffeinating agent is then mixed directly with the beans to remove their caffeine. Finally, the beans are steamed and dried to remove the decaffeinating agent. A decaffeinating agent is a substance used to extract caffeine from coffee beans. Different agents require different processes, and each process can have some impact on the flavor of the coffee.
Methylene Chloride: Methylene chloride is a solvent used in both the direct decaffeination methods. The methylene chloride process is thought by some in the coffee industry to maintain coffee flavor better than other processes. Based on extensive research data, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has determined that methylene chloride is safe for use in coffee decaffeination. While the FDA regulation allows up to 10 parts per million (ppm) residual methylene chloride, actual coffee industry practice results in levels 100 times lower than this amount.
Water Process: The beans are first soaked in very hot water for a period of time and caffeine is leached out of the beans' cellular material. The solution is then passed through a carbon filter with a porosity specifically sized to capture larger caffeine molecules, while allowing smaller oil and flavor molecules to pass through. Water, oils, and flavor are reabsorbed by the beans. The beans are then dried to their original moisture content.
Swiss Water® Process: The Swiss Water® Process is a patented decaffeination process, which uses only pure “flavor charged water” and a charcoal filtering system to remove caffeine from green coffee beans. Swiss Water® Process is certified organic, and 100% chemical free. They are the only decaffeination facility in the world certified organic by both OCIA and Aurora Certified Organic. In addition, they are also certified Kosher by the Kosher Overseers Association.
Swiss Water® Process maintains a very informative web site at www.swisswater.com.