Coffee is a great way to start the day. Heck, this website and this blog go hand-in-hand in terms of how much blogging gets done thanks to my coffee. And Maybe It’s The Only Way… there are a lot of people who still like the taste of coffee but wish to avoid the deleterious effects of the caffeine by choosing Decaf… But, do you know HOW coffee is decaffed and should we be drinking it?
Most decaf processes are done with heat and solvents, methylene chloride and ethyl acetate; and you’ll find tons of excuses and reasons not to be concerned but quick web search yielded some information… (Q2. How is methylene chloride used? Methylene chloride is a solvent used in a variety of industries and applications, such as adhesives, paint and coating products, pharmaceuticals, metal cleaning, chemical processing, and aerosols.)
Ethyl acetate is the organic compound with the formula CH₃–COO–CH₂–CH₃, simplified to C₄H₈O₂. This colorless liquid has a characteristic sweet smell and is used in glues, nail polish removers, decaffeinating tea and coffee, and cigarettes. Wikipedia
There are other ways, called Swiss Process or CO2 Process; totally chemical free, using water, Carbon and liquid CO2 and relying on solubility and osmosis to dissolve the caffeine. There are only 3 coffees in South Africa, to the best of my knowledge, that use these methods and are clean to drink – Woolies Organic Decaf, Mugg and Bean Decaf and Douwe Egbert
So, as usual, Buyer Beware. Decaf coffee still has some caffeine, and sometimes the chemical burden can outdo any benefit you might have hoped for by cutting the caffeine.