Along with its beneficial properties, coffee can have harmful effects on the body. One of the main culprits is a component called caffeine. Some people avoid taking this alkaloid, following the principles of healthy lifestyle. For others, it is totally contraindicated. In order not to lose a whole contingent of consumers, manufacturers have learned to remove caffeine from coffee beans. If you don’t drink coffee, here’s a decaf for you!
How it’s done
The process of extracting the harmful alkaloid from the bean is called decaffeination (decaff for short). Coffee producers obtain decaffeinated coffee using a variety of techniques.
The Swiss method
This method was discovered back in the 1970s, but to this day is considered the most effective. The product undergoes the following processing steps:
- The beans are soaked in water. This is how the caffeine and oils are drawn out by the liquid.
- The “tincture” is then filtered, which only retains the harmful stimulant, but lets the essential oils through.
- The water is returned to the berries.
- Repeat the purification process repeatedly.
This technology is good because all the useful and “delicious” properties are returned to the grains through water. The Swiss method has only one disadvantage – high cost, which affects the price of the final product.
Extraction with carbon dioxide
“Steamed” coffee berries are sent into a container filled with a mixture of water and compressed CO2. The container is then pressurized at up to 300 atmospheres and heated to 70 ⁰C. These conditions turn the carbon dioxide into a liquid state, and it is able to dissolve the caffeine almost completely.
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CO2 extraction is an efficient, environmentally friendly way to filter out alkaloids. Coffee retains its natural taste and aroma without being treated with chemical solutions.
This decaff technique is known as the European or classic technique. Some factories make decaffeinated coffee as follows:
- The beans are immersed in hot water to soak, then removed and placed in a solvent. There, the caffeine evaporates from the product.
- The raw material is then treated with boiling water and dried.
The main disadvantage of the direct method is the use of solvent. Even after rinsing, some amount of chemistry remains in the beans.
Coffee undergoes the same stages as the direct method. The only peculiarity of the indirect technique is that it preserves better the aroma and flavor of raw materials. The chemical agent is deposited in the product at the same time.
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The technology of soaking coffee in solvents has one advantage – the cheapness of the process. However, if you constantly consume such a budget product, the detrimental effects of chemicals on health cannot be avoided. Among the assortment of decafs, you should choose products that have undergone Swiss or carbon dioxide purification. Factories that use these expensive processing techniques always make a note to that effect on the packaging.
Not completely decaf
The “decaf” label on the package is not entirely true.
It is impossible to completely decaffeinate a bean. The marking about the absence of an alkaloid means only that its quantity in the product is minuscule.
According to the norms of IGS GOST 32775-2014, the indicator of caffeine in decaffeinated coffee should be no more than 3%. European standards require that the figure does not exceed 1%. The Swiss technology allows for maximum purification of the bean from caffeine, its content is reduced to 0.1%.
How to recognize Decaf
It is possible to identify a “washed” product by its marking (Decaf, Decaffeinato, Decaffeinated) or by the light color of the beans. But if you make a decaffeinated coffee of an expensive brand and serve it for tasting, only a true connoisseur can recognize it. Only the best varieties of Arabica are used for purification. This raw material has a classic, mild taste and a good tonic effect.
The harms and benefits of decaffeinated coffee
Purified coffee is not thought to stimulate brain function like traditional coffee. Scientists have disproved this theory: the polyphenols in decaffeine perform this function no worse than caffeine. And most importantly, the filtered beverage at the same time does not practically disrupt sleep.
In addition, Decaffeinato is a supplier of potassium, magnesium, and vitamin B3. Polyphenols are great at balancing antioxidants and radicals in the body. Not counting cases of abuse, the drink does not cause hypertension. And therefore it can be drunk during pregnancy and lactation (only brands without solvents). Caffeine-free coffee – prevention of diabetes, help in detoxification of the liver.
Decaf, like any other invigorating drink, increases the acidity of the stomach. Especially – brands of instant decaf coffee. But a study by the American doctor R. Superko raises special concerns. He was able to prove that the decaf, the ease of which the cardiac patients indulge themselves, is even more dangerous for the main organ. It turned out that “washed” coffee greatly increases the proportion of free fatty acids, and as a result – “bad” cholesterol.
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In general, the effect of caffeine on the heart depends on the speed of its absorption, for which a special gene is responsible. Those in whom this metabolism occurs quickly, the alkaloid is prescribed as a preventive measure. But for those with a slow breakdown of the alkaloid, it is better to refuse any coffee at all.
The Best Brands
The leaders in the production of decaffeinated product are German, Swiss, American and Colombian companies.
The leading brands of ground decaffeinated coffee:
- Lavazza Decaffeinato;
- Cafe Altura;
Among the range of whole grains, special attention is paid to: Colombian Arabica; Lavazza Dec; Hausbrandt Decaffeinato; Montana Coffee; Julius Meinl Zumtobel. All of the names listed are world-renowned brands.
Those who prefer instant coffee can choose such brands without caffeine: “Jacobs Monarch”; “Nescafe Gold Decaf”; “Ambassador Platinum”.
Determined to try it? Then, a word of advice: buy any item from the list of the best brands of decaffeinated coffee beans. After all, only freshly ground beans will reveal the entire bouquet of flavors and aromas. The production uses high quality beans, exclusively environmentally friendly processing. The product is not cheap, but the drink can be enjoyed without fear!