Your Decaf Coffee Questions, Answered

Decaf Coffee Beans

There are a lot of questions surrounding the ever popular topic of what is decaf coffee.

In this blog post we will address some of the most common questions about decaf and how decaf coffee is processed, demonstrating that decaf is not only handled as respectfully as non-decaf coffee, but that any and all coffee can be decaffeinated with minor or no impact to flavour.  

Your Decaf Coffee Questions, Answered


How Much Caffeine is in Decaf coffee?

Decaffeination removes about 97% or more of the caffeine in coffee beans. A typical cup of decaf coffee has about 2 mg of caffeine, compared to a typical cup of regular coffee, which has about 95 mg of caffeine.

How to choose best decaf coffee beans?

There are many different types of decaf coffee. These days, decafs can come from any origin due to the nature of the processes that are able to handle smaller size lots. Pick a decaf coffee in the same way that you would pick any regular single origin, by looking at the flavour descriptors and story behind the coffee.

How does decaffeinated coffee work, and how is coffee decaffeinated or made into ‘decaf’?

Like regular coffee, decaf coffee begins as green, un-roasted beans. The hard beans are warmed and soaked in liquid to dissolve and remove the caffeine in one of four ways: using water alone, using a mixture of water and solvents (most commonly methylene chloride or ethyl acetate) applied either directly or indirectly, or using water and “supercritical carbon dioxide.” All four methods are safe, and once the caffeine is removed the beans are washed, steamed, and roasted at temperatures that evaporate all the liquids used in decaffeination. 

What types of decaf does Code Black offer?

We offer two types of decaffeinated coffee – Swiss Water Process (Espresso) & Sugarcane E.A. Process (Espresso & Filter)

What is Swiss Water® process decaf?

The idea behind a chemical free, environmentally friendly, and water based decaffeination process was pioneered in Schaffhausen, Switzerland in the 1930s. Swiss Water Decaffeinated Coffee Inc., aptly named after the birthplace of water processed decaf, is today based in Delta, British Columbia. To this day, the glacial runoff from the Coast Mountains of British Columbia provides the fresh water used to decaffeinate coffees using the Swiss Water® Process. The Swiss Water® Process is a sustainable, transparent decaffeination method using water and the natural compounds in green coffee to gently remove caffeine—without leaving the residue chemical solvents do. It preserves the unique origin flavours, taste, and characteristics of the bean, resulting in amazing coffee without caffeine. Swiss Water® Process decaffeinated coffee is truly chemical-free.

How does the Swiss Water® Process work?

Unroasted green coffee is cleaned, rehydrated, and then immersed in Swiss Water’s proprietary Green Coffee Extract (GCE) for the removal of caffeine. Created using only green coffee and water, GCE contains all the same water-soluble compounds found in green coffee, except for caffeine. Central to the process is the principle of diffusion: molecules naturally move from an area of high concentration to one of low concentration.

Water-soluble compounds are held at equilibrium between the green coffee and the GCE—except the caffeine, which only exists in the coffee. Diffusion now takes place, with caffeine particles migrating out of the coffee beans and into the liquid GCE, but leaving everything else—like the coffee’s natural flavour characteristics—intact.

After becoming saturated with caffeine, the GCE flows through proprietary carbon filters that trap only caffeine, so that the GCE may be used once again. Refreshed, caffeine-free GCE continues to flow until the coffee reaches its target of 99.9% caffeine free. Coffee then moves from processing to drying, where moisture in the coffee is converted to vapour, and removed through the air exhaust stream.

The Swiss Water® Process is paired with advanced scientific systems and controls to identify relevant variables that adapt and adjust for different types of coffees. Where the process needs to be slow, it is slow. Where temperature needs to be adjusted, it is carefully adjusted. Swiss Water’s technicians use constant data feedback on process performance to optimize each step and the overall outcome.

What are the advantages of the Swiss Water® Process?

The proprietary Swiss Water® Process uses water and the naturally occurring soluble solids from green coffee to gently remove caffeine while preserving the origin flavours, taste, and characteristics of the bean.

This avoids the introduction of chemical solvents and their residue. Swiss Water believes that great coffee at any time of day should never be a compromise in taste or values.

Is Swiss Water Decaf Healthy?

For those that are caffeine sensitive or wish to limit their intake of caffeine, Swiss Water® Process decaf is the perfect choice for health. The proprietary Swiss Water® Process gently removes caffeine using only water containing the soluble solids that naturally occur in green coffee — and never introduces chemical solvent residuals.

The result is a high-quality process that preserves the unique origin flavors, taste, and characteristics of the coffee. Swiss Water maintains the sustainability of your supply chain, and is the only decaffeination company focused exclusively on a chemical-free process. The result is amazing coffee without caffeine that everyone can feel good about choosing.

What else should I know about Swiss Water Process?

The Swiss Water Process is a patented decaffeination method that uses only water to remove 99.9% of a coffee's caffeine content. Heat and time are also employed, but clean water is the only added ingredient.

Is Swiss water decaf caffeine free?

This 100% chemical free process leaves the beans 99.9% caffeine free. 

What is Sugarcane E.A. Decaf?

Sugarcane Ethyl Acetate (E.A.) Decaffeination is a natural process that not only maintains the integrity of green-coffee flavour, but also allows us to offer decaffeinated coffee that follows an integrated vertical supply chain, as the growing, processing, and even the full decaffeination process all happens at the source in Colombia.

How does the Sugarcane decaffeination process work?

Like all decaffeination processes green coffee is received, sorted, and prepared. Coffee is steamed for 30 minutes prior, via a low-pressure steaming process.

This opens the pores of the coffee allowing for caffeine extraction. Coffee is then placed in a solution of water and Ethyl Acetate (E.A.), a naturally occurring compound and solvent derived through the fermentation of sugarcane. Green coffee is submerged in the solvent, which naturally bonds to the salts of chlorogenic acids within the coffee, allowing for the extraction of caffeine. Once the coffee is saturated, the tank is drained and a fresh solution is introduced.

This continues for about 8 hours. After the last of the caffeine has been extracted, the coffee is removed from the solution and prepped for another steaming.

This final low-pressure steaming removes the remaining traces of Ethyl Acetate. Decaffeinated coffee is then dried, physically polished to ensure cleanliness, and packaged for export.

Is Sugarcane E.A. decaffeination safe?

Yes. The Sugarcane E.A. Decaffeination Process removes a minimum of 97% of all caffeine originally present within green coffee. The residual amount of Ethyl Acetate equates to a maximum of 10 ppm (a ripe banana naturally contains about 200 ppm).

Ethyl Acetate has an evaporation point of 70°C. As coffee is roasted at a temperature well above this threshold, roasted coffee will present no trace of E.A. 

Is decaf coffee healthy or Is it bad for you?

Like all coffee, decaffeinated coffee is safe for consumption and can be part of a healthy diet. Once the caffeine is removed, the beans are washed, steamed, and roasted at temperatures that evaporate the liquids used in decaffeination. In the case of Swiss Water® process it is a 100% chemical free process.


Code Black Coffee offers a range of single origin Swiss Water Decaf and Sugarcane decaffeinated coffee beans & ground coffees. Freshly roasted in Melbourne with Australia-wide shipping.

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