One aspect of coffee rings true for every soul on the planet: we all love the aroma of coffee. Not everyone loves to drink it though. Only 59% of Americans drink a daily cup of coffee. Which is startling to fathom, how do the other 41% function? Amazing. Some of us coffee lovers enjoy the buzz of our brew, while others are more focused on the flavor. Most of us however love everything about it. The energy, the intoxicating smell and the amazing flavors of craft coffee. We tend to discount decaf for its lack of the drug we crave, and more often than not it tastes flat and disgusting. Here’s the skinny on decaf, and why it’s not a waste of a bean.
Craft Roasted Dirt
What is it? Decaf coffee is coffee. It’s not some other part of the plant or dirt. Come on, it’s not that bad. It’s just coffee, and it can taste good. There are 2 major processes to HOW coffee is decaffeinated. Chemically or Swiss-Water Process. Decaffeination occurs when the beans are green, meaning before they are roasted to deliciousness. To be considered a decaf in the US the beans need to have 97% of their caffeine removed. It’s a difficult task to remove the caffeine, but keep the coffee tasting how it should. This is where decaf gets cruddy. Trying to separate 1 of 1000s of chemicals that make up coffee often leaves the flavor manipulated beyond recognition.
Chemical decaffeination has come a long way. Early efforts to kill the buzz used solvents such as benzene, trichloroethylene and good ol’ chloroform. The solvents most common today are dichloromethane and ethyl acetate. Ethyl acetate can be found in nature so coffee beans decaffeinated with this solvent are usually labeled ‘naturally’ decaffeinated. There’s got to be a better way!
Jesse we Need to Roast
The Swiss-Water Process does not use chemicals to remove caffeine. This process relies on solubility and osmosis. It’s a more natural method, but has its own setbacks. The first step is to create caffeine free green coffee extract. Green beans are first placed in hot water and then circulated through a charcoal filter. This charcoal filter catches larger caffeine molecules and allows smaller oil and flavor molecules to pass on through. Now all our oils and flavors are floating around in the water. Since the oils are extracted from the beans we now have beans with no caffeine and no flavor, and the water they were in is now rich in flavor, but no longer on the beans!
So, now we are left with water that is full of yummy coffee flavors. This is the Green Coffee Extract. For the next step we are going to filter again, but this time we use the water that is full of coffee flavors pulled from the previous beans to filter it. Got it? Basically we’re filtering out the caffeine, but our flavorful oils get lost in our water. We discard our 1st batch of green beans, then introduce a 2nd batch to go through the same process but using our new water!
Now that we’ve gone through the magical mystery of decaffeination why the hell would we drink it? First and foremost it tastes great! We invite you to try Thrasher Coffee’s Settler Roast. It is a Swiss-Water Process decaf! The beans originate from Guatemala and have a very herbal and sweet flavor. You’ll find notes of caramel or honey within a full bodied brew. Think about everything you enjoy and take away from coffee. The aroma, the warmth, the comfort and the flavor. Forget needing it to pry your eyes open and just enjoy it as a great beverage. A nice hot cup of decaf is a great way to wind down and end the day feeling satisfied.
Another great application of a hearty decaf is for those on a caffeine restriction. If the doc told you to kick the caffeine you don’t have to sacrifice your love of great coffee. There is still a flavorful world for you to explore and enjoy without the buzz. Several of our subscribers have reported making a half-caf blend of their own at home. Using 50% Settler & 50% of their normal roast such as Pioneer, Liberty or Homestead. So in conclusion for you die-hard decaf haters, we understand completely. But for those willing to give it a try we think you’ll be pleasantly surprised….settled.