Why would you want a Gourmet Decaf Coffee?

Maybe you don't really have a choice.

Today, there are some really good gourmet decaf coffee brands being made available. This is very fortunate for many people, for whom it may be necessary to use decaffeinated coffee. There could be a variety of reasons for this.

When would you be better off using decaffeinated coffee?

Medical Reasons:

There are many medical conditions, which if you suffered from them, you would do well not to use caffeine. While we may mention some of them here, please note that we do not profess to be giving medical advice. For specific medical advice you must visit your medical practitioner.

  • A diabetic condition can often indicate the need to use decaffeinated products.
  • Someone suffering from high blood pressure may want to consider a gourmet decaf coffee as an alternative to that alluring espresso.
  • A gastro-esophageal reflux problem may indicate that you would be advised to lay off coffee altogether. Many people have thought that by drinking decaf it would ease this problem. The truth is that both stimulate additional hydrochloric acid in the stomach.

These are just some and there certainly are many other conditions which would warrant reducing caffeine from your diet.

Negative Reactions:

The most common of these being Insomnia or poor sleeping patterns. Again we must hasten to add that not everyone reacts adversely – Personally I have no problem sleeping like a baby at any time, coffee, caffeine or not! Bring it on, I say! My poor wife, on the other hand would lie awake all night!

Different ways to remove caffeine – leaving a gourmet decaf coffee!

Firstly, it is as well to note that there are new ways being utilized all the time as the search for perfection continues. So, I don't presume that this is a complete list at all, but here are some of the better known ways.

Probably the oldest or original method was a way invented by Ludwig Roselius in 1903. He used a salt water solution to soak the beans, and then benzene was used a solvent to remove the caffeine. This method is no longer in use because of health fears over the use of benzene. The resultant coffee had also lost a good deal of its taste.

A common method, sometimes termed the "European" or "Traditional" process involves soaking the beans in hot water or steaming them and then using methylene chloride or an ethyl acetate solution to soak the beans and act as a solvent to remove the caffeine. There are two variants of this method. The Direct process is when the beans are steamed up front, and the Indirect process is when they are soaked initially.

This is by far the most common method of making gourmet decaf coffee – it is also probably the most favored by coffee lovers, but there is increasing concern regarding the chemical usage. The indirect process is sometimes erroneously referred to as the water method as the beans are soaked, not steamed, but as it makes use of chemicals as described above, it is a misleading name.

The Swiss Water Process is considered the purest way of decaffeinating coffee beans as no chemical is used, only activated charcoal, which filters out the caffeine. This lot of beans are then discarded, and a fresh batch is soaked in the decaffeinated solution. By the process of osmosis, the caffeine in the fresh batch is then extracted from the beans. The only problem is that in reality, some of the flavorful oils are also removed.

Then we have the Carbon Dioxide method, also called the Hypercritical Carbon Dioxide method. Carbon dioxide is brought to a liquid state under high pressure, and the beans then soaked in this solution. The big plus of this method is that it is safe both the environment and the health of the consumer. The downside is the added cost of reducing the carbon dioxide to a liquid.

One of the newer methods where green coffee beans are soaked in a solution of coffee and hot water, is known as the Triglyceride Process. After soaking, the beans are placed in natural coffee flavor oils for a number of hours the glycerol and fatty acids (triglycerides) remove the caffeine from the hot beans , while leaving all the flavor behind. The beauty of this method is that the triglycerides are extracted from previously used coffee grounds, making it relatively economical.

Of course, even the best of decaffeination methods will still leave a bit of caffeine behind so that even the so-called gourmet decaf coffees are strictly speaking, not completely free of caffeine. The only sure way of not having caffeine is not to drink coffee – Heaven forbid :-)

But wait! Maybe there is still hope in that a species of Arabica bean found in Ethiopia, North Africa, has a very low caffeine content. This could change a lot of things, and maybe eventually with genetic alteration we may have a completely caffeine free coffee bean.

For now, there are many fine gourmet decaf coffees to choose from.

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