What is decaffeinated coffee? In this article we will see how does it differ from regular coffee and what benefits it can provide. Coffee is one of the most popular beverage in the world which became notorious thanks to its main compound caffeine.
Caffeine is a psychoactive drug that stimulate the central nervous system (CNS).It is the most consumed psychoactive substance which is legal and unregulated practically all around the world. Moreover the most noticeable effects of caffeine is that it can impede drowsiness and stimulate parts of the nervous system. This is what make you alert and reactive.
However, there are some people who prefer the taste and smell of coffee rather than its psychoactive effects. This have given rise to a type of coffee called decaffeinated coffee or decaf coffee.
What is decaffeinated coffee?
In simpler terms decaffeinated coffee is like traditional coffee but with the caffeine compound removed. Technically around 97% of the caffeine is removed through the decaffeinating process. Hence, in decaffeinated coffee there is always a small residual of caffeine but in some cases it may be up to 20%!
Decaffeination was first done by Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge in the 1820. The poet Goethe after remarking Runge’s work on belladonna – a poisonous plant, requested him to analyze coffee beans. Although he was able to isolate caffeine compound from the coffee bean, he was neither eager to learn more about caffeine chemistry nor interested in using this process for producing commercial decaffeinated coffee.
How coffee is decaffeinated?
There are several methods to separate caffeine from coffee beans; by using water and organic solvents or carbon dioxide. The coffee beans are washed in the solvent until the caffeine has been extracted from it, then the solvent is removed.
There are 2 types of solvent method which are the Indirect-Solvent and Direct-solvent process. The direct method is where the coffee beans are washed directly in the solvent. In the indirect method, the coffee beans are first washed in hot water which remove the caffeine, oils and other flavor compounds. The solution obtained is then treated separately by adding the solvents methylene chloride or ethyl acetate. Then it is heated so that the caffeine and solvents are removed through evaporation.
Finally, the coffee beans are boiled again with this mixture that contain only flavor compounds and oils in order to reinstate its taste. In the Swiss Water Process the coffee beans are also boiled in hot water.
However, this time the caffeine is removed from the water through the process of percolation and not by using solvent. Then the beans are reboiled in this water to reabsorb the caffeine-free flavor elements. It is important that the coffee beans are decaffeinated before they are roasted and ground to keep its nutritional value and the taste of ‘regular coffee’.
Decaffeinated vs regular coffee
1. Caffeine quantity
The main difference is that decaffeinated coffee contain a very small amount of caffeine ( at most 7mg in a cup of 8oz ). So the psychoactive effects are milder on decaf coffee drinkers. However, they will miss the benefits of caffeine; which help to improve sport performance, mood, alertness and may even help to prevent aging and risks of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
2. Level of antioxidants
It has been noted that decaffeinated coffee contain 15% less antioxidants. These are substances that can prevent and reduce the damage of cells provoked by free radicals.
3. PH level
Decaffeinated coffee tend to be much more acidic than regular coffee. This is because during the decaffeinating process, when the caffeine is washed, it have also some considerable effects on the PH level. Hence, when consumed in excess it can have side effects like acid re flux and heartburn.
In the decaffeinating process there is an additional step to add back the flavor constituents in the coffee bean. But even though many coffee lovers have noted that its taste and intensity are not as a regular coffee.
What is decaffeinated coffee’s popularity around the world?
According to a report from the Grand View Search the global market size of decaffeinated coffee was valued at USD 1.65bn in 2019. It is predicted to grow significantly in the future due to the awareness of the psychoactive substances present in caffeine and other side effects it can have on health. However, many coffee lovers expressed that decaffeinated coffee defeat the purpose of coffee whose initial intent was to energize and keep the drinker awake.
But on another side it can be the perfect substitute for coffee lover who have health issue and cannot consume caffeine.
What is decaffeinated coffee’s alternative?
Decaffeinated coffee is obtained through a man made process which involve the use of chemical elements. This can have some bad effects like increasing the acidity of the coffee beans. Promising research are being made on growing coffee beans that do not contain caffeine, by eliminating the gene that produce this compound in normal coffee plants. This new variety of coffee is termed Decaffito and has been trademarked in Brazil. Therefore it could be a much more natural way to enjoy the taste of coffee without having the caffeine effects.
We have seen a lot about what is decaffeinated coffee. Its purpose is to let every category of persons of different age and health conditions to enjoy the great taste of coffee. There are different views from pro- caffeine and anti caffeine persons. For some, caffeine which is the most legal form of psychoactive drugs have a rejuvenating effect that boost mental and physical performance.
Others argue that it have to be consumed with moderation as it can be risky for health. Though caffeine is not the cup of coffee of everyone, decaffeinated coffee seems to have its place in our daily life. It provides a substitute for coffee lovers who are anti caffeine.
Do you drink coffee often? Do you prefer regular coffee or decaffeinated coffee? We will be more than happy to hear your views about this marvelous drink!