Decaf Coffee: Is it Good or Bad?
If you are settling down for a nice cup of decaf, you are likely to be making an effort to cut down on the amount of caffeine that you ingest. Promote your good decision and take the next step in reducing your consumption by making the smart decision to try half caffeinated coffee.
Whenever you’re socializing or if you’re on the office coffee run at your local Costa or Starbucks, a quick order of a venti decaf, or for the more adventurous a venti skinny vanilla decaf latte, can bring some refreshing enlightenment to the day.
Differentiating Between Your Beans
Decaf beans are mostly from the ‘Robusta’ variety, whereas caffeinated beans are mostly from the ‘Arabica’ variety. Robusta beans are known to taste a little stronger and Arabica is thought to be sweeter and more delicate. In addition, Robusta Beans are mostly used for instant coffees. Some instant coffees, however, are made from the same Arabica beans that are used in regular servings – This includes brands like Starbucks.
Dependent on your personal taste, you can experience a variety of coffees from different parts of the world. Robusta beans, for example, come from Africa and Indonesia, whereas Arabica beans can come from Africa, but are mostly found in Latin America and Colombia.
Sustainable Coffee Harvesting
The International Coffee Association (ICA) is working on sustainable coffee production through its efforts to implement the International Coffee Agreement (2007).
The name ‘Coffee’ comes from the genus of that evergreen plant, the “coffea”. Seeds from this plant are what is more commonly known as ‘coffee beans.’As an evergreen shrub, coffee can be beneficial to carbon sequestration, anti-erosion, and maintaining biodiversity in the areas where it is grown.
Through the ICA, efforts are also underway to address water pollution issues in the surrounding areas of the plantations where the beans are washed at the time of harvest.
Producers across the globe are now seeing the benefits of achieving certification of their farming for sustainability and quality. Certification by the Universal Trade Zone organization (UTZ), boasts of a social conscience that many consumers demand nowadays.
According to UTZ.org webpage, organizations that hold this achievement have proven the source of products are sustainable, from where are grown down to the shop they are sold from.
How to decaffeinate coffee beans
If you have a real interest in the best way to get your coffee beans decaffeinated, the Swiss Water Process is favored over chemical extraction.
Some extraction processes are considered organic, so check when you buy, but don’t let it spoil the fun. The United States Food and Drug Administration (the FDA), requires ‘caffeine-free’ coffee to be at 97% no caffeine. No labeling is required on a decaf package, but some commentators suggest that the Robusta bean retains more caffeine than the Arabica bean, after the decaf process.
There are four basic processes for extracting caffeine from the bean. These are broken down into two categories;
- Solvent-based and
The solvent-based method involves either methylene chloride or ethyl acetate. Using the direct-solvent method, the solvent is applied directly to the beans. In the indirect-solvent method, the solvent is mixed in water, and the beans then placed in the water.
By contrast, the non-solvent methods rely on water and CO2 gas, the Swiss Water Process extracts all of the flavor, along with 99% of the caffeine.
During the process, water and the flavour of the bean is what needed in the second batch and not the first.The 1st batch is discarded, however the second will have the flavour replaced while the caffeine is removed.
The Co2 process is also based on recycling. The beans are soaked in water, then placed under pressure and CO2 forced into the beans. Again, almost everything leaves the first batch, and then the caffeine is extracted from that batch. The remaining CO2, minus the caffeine, but with the flavour, is pumped back into the next batch, and the ‘decaf.’ process is completed.
These processes are approved by the FDA, meaning they have become a more popular consumer choice. The Swiss Water Process is the only one certified organic and kosher for the Swiss Water Company facility.
Swiss Water Process Explained
The American coffee make-up consists of one or two blended type of bean which are; hardy Robusta bean and the sweet but yet delicate Arabica bean.
The caffeine in the Robusta bean is twice that of the Arabica bean. Even with 97% of caffeine withdrawn, the Robusta bean tends to still have more caffeine when compared to the Arabica bean.
Their strong taste are often considered to make them less valuable. Coffee brands like the Folgers and Maxwell House use the Robusta blends taste, while Caribou and Starbucks retain their uniqueness with an Arabica bean blend.
The variety of outcomes that can be achieved from blending the different types of bean which can, bring about a wide range of variation amidst different brands.
More choice for us!
Parents of the millennial generation probably will not forget the famous little packs of Folgers or Maxwell House decaf coffee. Their parents may have bought it once in awhile, and the best that anyone could say back then was that they either liked it or not.
We’ve got some great news for you: The packs live on! You can find them in places like Starbucks. And if the packets live on, so does the convenience that comes along with them!
More recently, things have changed, and coffee marketing has changed entirely. Our coffeemakers are no longer the old ‘Mr. Coffee’ that folks gave as gifts at weddings.Now there are ultra-deluxe models that out there! And not just for coffee, but for what is now called an ‘espresso,’ a ‘cappuccino,’ a ‘shot,’ a ‘flat white,’ a frappe,’ a ‘macchiato,’ or a ‘mocha.’ Don’t forget a ‘cortadito.’!
Precede most of those with the word ‘decaf.’ and you are good to go. Anyone can make these, using the sheer multitude of machines and gadgets available in the market today. Heck, grind your own beans caf or decaf with the same grinder. Go ‘half-caf.’ if you like.
Once you have collected your bag or decaf and you are home, you will find that there is no magic to brewing a good cup of decaf or caf. Have it your way: Go old school with your countertop, cold brew with your Primula, or do a shot with your Rok. It’s all good for your morning brightness or for your after-dinner dessert menu.
Go for the taste…stay for the cleanse
Research shows that the antioxidants in the coffee beans are not lost in the decaf process. ‘Cafestol,’ is the antioxidant in the coffee beans and holds many health benefits.
It’s true, there are many health and wellness articles, and a wealth of medical literature out there on this subject. So, if you want your shot of antioxidants, for whatever reason, you can’t go wrong with a cup of decaf!
On a more technical level, there are lots of research out there to better guide you about the health benefits of cutting down on your caffeine consumption through decaf.
We looked at the Harvard Health Forum and we found no article which points to caffeine as being directly related to a health risk. We qualify this statement with a reference to the literature, and also to questions concerning the amount of daily caffeine intake.
We would like to add here that, everyone is different, so for your personal dietary health, you may wish to consult with your healthcare provider.
The science of why you should be cutting down on caffeine
A little bit here on the science: An 8oz cup of coffee contains approximately 100 milligrams (mg) of caffeine – Three tall Pikes at Starbucks and you are there! Those three stalls represent the daily recommended intake of caffeine. For the afternoon meeting, go for the skinny vanilla decaf.
Some literature suggests that decaf is a better fit against conditions that include anxiety, stress, depression, sleep problems, irregular heartbeats, chronic headaches and heartburn. Some other research indicates that for moms who breastfeeds, decaf is the best. If you are still confuse please visit a medical expert.
Of the more than 1,000 chemicals found in coffee, the science folks have teased coffee into four basic chemical categories. Caffeine, of course, is a stimulant that enhances perception.
Then, there are Chlorogenic acids of which some 45 are in the antioxidant category of phenolic compounds. These break down into caffeic acid. Some studies suggest that the compounds help to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
Next, an alkaloid called Trigonelline, some studies suggest, has been linked to positive effects of protecting the brain from damage, possibly blocking cancer cells from moving around, and also issues of fighting bacteria, as well as potential benefits with respect to blood sugar and cholesterol.
Finally, Kahweol and Cafestol, mentioned above, are Diterpenes. These are chemical compounds in a category which is known to be both antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory in composition.
Always do what is best for you, with the benefit of advice from your health care provider.
A decaffeinated conclusion
At the end of the day, when texts have been exchanged, after work meet-ups are set, and you have venti skinny non-fat decaf vanilla latte in hand, things don’t seem quite so complicated.
Coffee, whether caf.or decaf has grown up to be a social institution as well as a beverage. The size of your cup, the markings of the ingredients, what you have, and with whom, and when, all are part of our social fabric.
Most days in the city, folk out on the sidewalk have a cup in one hand, and are texting on the other. The ‘happy hour’ of old is now the packed crowd at the local coffee shop – It really is powering the nation.
We hope that we have provided you with some balanced insight into caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee. For both types of beverage, the positives outweigh the negatives, especially when used in moderation.
We hope that we have helped you to better understanding of ‘what is coffee,’ ‘where does it come from,’ and ‘how does it end up in our cups.’ As well as the social benefits that can be attached to coffee and how it has integrated its way into our everyday lives.