How do you remove caffeine from coffee?


Coffee has caffeine and caffeine looks like this:



Nice, isn't it? However, we do not always want to ingest caffeine and not all of us process it equally well. That is why decaffeinated coffee exists. But have you ever wondered how this invisible molecule is removed from coffee beans?


Caffeine is present in coffee as well as in tea, cocoa, mate, guarana or yapon, whose fruits are used by the Native Americans of the southeast of the country for pleasure as well as for ritual purposes. Chemically it is considered an antioxidant and in its pure form it is white in color and bitter in taste.


We know all this thanks to the idea of a poet, Germany's most famous poet, J.W. Goethe, and the work of a chemist, Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge. Goethe, and the work of a chemist, Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge. The former, interested in chemistry and physics, suggested to the latter that why not analyze some coffee beans as he had previously done with belladonna. Runge set to work and in 1819 succeeded in isolating the compound, which he baptized as caffeine, as reported by Bennet Alan Weinberg and Bonnie K. Bealer in The world of caffeine : the science and culture of the world's most popular drug (Routledge, 2001).



However, it was not until almost a century later when it occurred to someone that this caffeine could be eliminated from coffee. That someone was Ludwig Roselius and his colleagues, who upon seeing how a shipment of coffee that had been soaked in seawater had lost almost all of its caffeine but very little flavor. Thus, they began to steam the coffee beans with different chemicals, such as benzene. The first factory that sold decaffeinated coffee was Kaffee HAG, a coffee importer known as Café Sanka in France and the United States. Today there are several methods to eliminate caffeine from coffee and some still use organic solvents such as dichloromethane, ethyl acetate or supercritical CO2. The coffee is then roasted.



How is our Chambaku coffee decaffeinated?



Chambakú Decaf is the decaffeinated coffee of NOMAD COFFEE, also available in its instant format. It is a natural process coffee with origins in Colombia, cultivated by Juan Felipe Restrepo in Caldas, who decided to decaffeinate part of his production. To do so, he relied on the Colombian company Descafecol, which uses natural ethyl acetate from sugar cane.


It may sound a little strange, but ethyl acetate is a compound found in coffee itself and in other foods, such as bananas, which contain 20 times more ethyl acetate than even coffee decaffeinated by Descafecol.


How do they do it? First, the coffee beans are steamed to remove their cuticle and then soaked to open their pores, just like a skincare routine. In the next step, they are immersed in a mixture of high mountain spring water and methyl acetate from sugar cane. In this kind of jacuzzi, the liquid is circulated to remove the caffeine, and you will undergo this bath a total of four times. This is done in a gentle manner, avoiding excessive heat and pressure in order to ensure that the coffee maintains all of its characteristics. Finally, the coffee is re-steamed to eliminate residual ethyl acetate, dried and transferred to cooling silos.


The result is a caffeine-free coffee, sweet and unctuous in body, with notes of pure cocoa, honey and caramel, with a mild acidity and a long and pleasant aftertaste reminiscent of maple syrup.