Decaffeinated Coffee

You probably know it too: without your morning boost of caffeine you will not wake up properly. Who came up with the idea of ​​decaffeinating coffee beans and what procedures are there?

What is Decaffeination?

The decaffeination is a process by which coffee beans or tea leaves contained caffeine can be partially or almost completely removed.

Decaffeination of coffee

In the case of coffee, the decaffeination process starts with the still green and unroasted beans. In general, the beans are allowed to swell under the action of warm water or steam first. Subsequently, the caffeine contained in the beans is extracted with a solvent. Since only one part of the caffeine contained in each process can be withdrawn, the process must be repeated very often to achieve the maximum 0.1 percent residual content that is prescribed in the for caffeine-free coffee. Coffee contains about 400 chemical ingredients that are essential to the taste and aroma responsible for the brewed beverage. Depending on the decaffeination process, these constituents are also removed to a greater or lesser extent, which can lead to undesirable changes in the taste of the coffee.

Researchers around the world are working on the production of coffee grades with reduced caffeine content. In 2004, a Brazilian research group found several variants of Arabica coffee genetic testing that contained virtually no caffeine. Working groups at the Universities of Glasgow, Tokyo and the Institute Integrated Coffee Technologies in Hawaii are researching the production of decaffeinated coffee plants using genetic engineering. In the future, it could be possible to do away with costly decaffeination altogether.

Remove one of 400 substances

As stated above, decaffeinated coffee still contains all about 400 flavors and fragrances of whole bean coffee. It is interesting, by the way, that the Arabica bean naturally contains only half as much caffeine as the Robusta variety. It is, therefore, more suitable for use.

Whether the withdrawal of caffeine in different ways of production succeeds is disputed among experts and consumers. Some of the previously common procedures were of concern to health. Not least because of state prohibitions, they are almost no longer used today. Nevertheless, a short look at the decaffeination history is worthwhile.


Natural manufacturing process

The beginnings:

Roselius method; the invention of decaffeination dating back to 1903

The history of decaffeinated coffee dates back to 1903. The Bremen coffee merchant and founder of "Kaffee HAG," Ludwig Roselius, attributed the death of his father partly to excessive coffee consumption. Then he developed the named after him Roselius method - in which he put the whole bean coffee to swell initially in salt water, and then extract with the help of benzene, the caffeine from the bean. Since benzene is now considered to be carcinogenic, this process is of course no longer used. 

Indirect procedure:

The Swiss water process (complicated and expensive)

Today, there are many other ways to decaffeinate coffee. In this process developed by the Swiss Water Decaffeinated Coffee Company at the end of the 1970s, beans are treated with hot water in a first step until all the caffeine, and other solid components are dissolved out.

The Swiss water process is free of chemicals, but it is all the more time-consuming. In the first step, the green coffee beans are placed in hot water until all components are dissolved out. The beans of this first step are disposed of. The water with the dissolved components, however, will continue to be used.

By comparison, roasted coffee comes to around 1.2% caffeine in Arabica beans and up to 2.6% for caffeine-containing Robusta beans. With a maximum of 0.2% caffeine, coffee is considered low in caffeine, with a maximum of 0.08% it can be described as caffeine-free.

In the next step, the water mixture is forced through a charcoal filter to remove the caffeine contained in it. Subsequently, new coffee beans are inserted into this water. As a result of the fact that the water was mixed entirely with coffee components in the first work step, only the caffeine is removed from the fresh coffee beans. This step can be repeated until the beans only have a caffeine content of 0.1%.

However, this method is hardly used anymore because it is uneconomical and not particularly environmentally friendly. On the one hand, raw coffee is used, which is then disposed of and can no longer be used. On the other hand, a lot of water is needed.

Direct procedure:

The direct method is considered comparatively inexpensive. In this process, water vapor initially acts on the beans for 30 minutes. They then come in solvent for ten hours, either dichloromethane or ethyl acetate. After that, the solvent is poured off and followed by about ten hours long drying step. It is important for complete removal of the solvents; especially with dichloromethane because it is considered carcinogenic. The limits stipulate that one kilogram of coffee may contain a maximum of two milligrams of dichloromethane. He is, according to experts, usually far below. Unlike the use of ethyl acetate, it also occurs in fruits and vegetables. Treated coffee may bear the name “Naturally decaffeinated."

Carbon dioxide Procedure:

In the carbon dioxide process, CO 2 is pressed through the water-pretreated beans at a pressure of 73 to 300 bar, thus releasing the caffeine. Subsequently, the CO 2 is evaporated; pure caffeine remains for further processing for other purposes, such as medical.

A fact to Note: Caffeine is the world's most widely used pharmacological substance. The carbon dioxide comes - compressed and condensed - used again.

Triglyceride method:

In the triglyceride process, the unroasted coffee beans are first dipped in a hot water-coffee solution. The caffeine comes to the surface of the beans, which are then immersed in hot coffee bean oil. The triglycerin it contains removes the caffeine - but not the other flavorings and flavors. After a final separation and drying process, the beans are caffeine-free.

Of course, breeding caffeine-free coffee plants would be better than any production process, which is being tried in Brazil and Japan. In fact, in 2004, researchers discovered Arabica beans without caffeine in Ethiopia. The breeding results are sobering: Too much effort with too little yield.

Decaffeinated coffee or Not, which is best?

There are several reasons to drink caffeinated coffee. For example, the malaise that some people feel after consuming black, hot gold. Anyone who drinks a lot of coffee is pregnant or has problems with their heart, and blood pressure occasionally or temporarily uses caffeinated coffee. But before renouncing this ingredient of beans should be the following consideration:

Industrially manufactured varieties are not always based on the best green coffees; also, the roasting process is often short and hot. It can form irritating stomach acids and bitter substances. The aroma is enhanced by other coffee brands that come from gentle, longer drum roasting at lower temperatures. This manufacturing process allows a harmonious taste experience.

There are also reasons against decaffeinated coffee. For example, a study shows that it can be harmful to the heart because it raises levels of specific blood lipids, such as LDL cholesterol - the "bad" cholesterol. Even more impressive is an arrangement in which persons in the blind test coffee with and without caffeine test: they taste no difference. "The contribution of caffeine to the taste of coffee is overestimated," says the head of this study, the nutritionist Guido Ritter of Münster University of Applied Sciences. A US research project contributes to further findings. It points out that the x-coffee varieties and other health aspects of the test persons also play a role: In overweight persons, caffeine-free coffee increases the "good" cholesterol level, i.e., the HDL. 

When is a withdrawal sensible?

Nobody needs to be afraid of regular coffee consumption. 4-5 cups daily are considered harmless. Regardless, of course, each person responds individually to different amounts of caffeine; on the other hand, a withdrawal is only necessary if physical problems occur.

A temporary withdrawal may be interesting for those coffee drinkers who want to enjoy the stimulating effect of a new coffee blend to the fullest. Often, the subtleties of an Arabica aromatic blend can be better understood.

However, anyone who suffers from pre-existing conditions, whose symptoms are compounded by caffeine consumption, should consider withdrawal. Such pre-existing conditions may include heart failure or chronic hypertension, as well as gastrointestinal complaints and diabetes. To date, the effects of caffeine consumption on health are being explored.

Stress-free coffee withdrawal

A slow withdrawal, i.e., the controlled reduction of the amount of caffeine over a more extended period, is the best method to avoid unwanted side effects. The dose is reduced every other day by no more than 10 to 20 percent. The body gets the opportunity to adapt the out-of-control body chemistry to the new conditions.


Small tip: The ideal time to start a cold coffee withdrawal is probably two days before a weekend. Are you tired on your days off or your head begins to squeeze, cuddle back into your bed? They laze away the worst time. A good book or a nice movie also distract from the desire for the usual cup of coffee. You may love to check out our Nespresso Compatible Capsules, Espresso Capsules, decaf coffee, Swiss water technology, Whole bean coffee, and decaf k-cups.

In addition to the additional rest, ample supply of liquid helps, of course, water and other caffeine-free are the drinks of choice. Not to forget, also in tea, coke, energy drinks, and many other products caffeine is included. If severe pain occurs during this time, the caffeine may have been the cause of other problems. In this case, it is strongly advised that you pay a visit to the doctor.

Active people can best compensate for reduced adrenalin production by exercising. However, only in moderation, because of sporting excellence is somewhat discouraged. The change from the usual piece of cake to fresh fruit in the afternoon also reduces the desire for an accompanying cup of coffee.


Caffeine causes a habituation effect in the body. This is safe, as far as no side effects occur. Deciding on decaffeinated coffee is also a matter of individual tastes and beliefs around the delicious black hot beverage. Not the coffee itself is healthy or unhealthy, but dealing with it.

Too much is always detrimental in the long run - no matter whether it is a stimulant or a sport. It is also clear, however, that it is never possible to remove only the caffeine in the production process: it always other components disappear unintentionally, which affects taste and aroma. Generally, however, before you think about caffeine-free brands, first change the type of coffee or the kind of preparation.

A coffee extract can help to perceive the effect and aromas of new coffee blends more clearly. A slow withdrawal with plenty of fluid intakes is the gentlest method.