Do you love coffee, but hate the way caffeine gives you the jitters? Are you looking for more toxin-free decaf coffee sources? Maybe you're here wondering what the heck is Swiss Water Process??? Well, you've come to the right place!
Let's talk about decaffeination
Throughout history a myrid of chemicals have been used as solvents in the decaffeination process. More toxic compounds like benzene and chloroform are no longer used, but "less toxic" ones like methylene chloride and ethyl acetate are still actively used.
If we take a brief look at methylene chloride (or dichloromethane) in Wikipedia we find:
It is widely used as a paint stripper and a degreaser. In the food industry, it has been used to decaffeinate coffee and tea as well as to prepare extracts of hops and other flavorings. Its volatility has led to its use as an aerosol spray propellant and as a blowing agent for polyurethane foams.
Although it is mildly toxic and carcinogenic, its use as a decaffeination agent is allowed by the US Food and Drug Administration if the residual solvent is less than 10 parts per million (ppm)
What about the more natural solvent ethyl acetate?
This colorless liquid has a characteristic sweet smell (similar to pear drops) and is used in glues, nail polish removers, decaffeinating tea and coffee, and cigarettes (see list of additives in cigarettes). Ethyl acetate is the ester of ethanol and acetic acid; it is manufactured on a large scale for use as a solvent.
Starting in the 1980s, ethyl acetate was introduced as a replacement to dichloromethane. Although ethyl acetate is mildly toxic, coffee that is decaffeinated with this solvent is sometimes marketed as "naturally decaffeinated" because this solvent may be obtained from a biological process such as the fermentation of sugar cane.
Reading on in Wikipedia we get to Swiss Water Process:
This method is different in that it does not directly or indirectly add chemicals to extract the caffeine. Rather, it relies entirely on two concepts – solubility and osmosis – to decaffeinate coffee beans.
Here's a helpful little video that shows how it works!
Now you might be asking, "Where can I find this stuff?!" The good news is that a lot of companies are beginning to switch over and source safe and healthier beans. It's worth snooping around your local decaf coffee section and reading labels.
To get you started, here are my top five favorite sources to help you on your search!
Lacas Coffee Company Mexican Dark
This coffee is pre-ground and organic & fair trade certified to boot. It has a light flavor with cherry notes. If you don't have it locally, you can find it on Amazon for $10.50
Tim Horton's Decaffeinated Ground Coffee
I've been told (by true-blooded Canadian, no less) that all Canadian decaf coffee is Swiss Water Process. I'm still searching for another source to back that up but I've found a number of Canadian coffees in my search. This is my solid go to (especially when I'm making lots of coffee for friends and family and don't want to take the time to grind fresh beans) and it doesn't break the bank at $8.99 for a one-pound bag!
Kicking Horse Coffee Decaf
This one may be my all around favorite! Their branding is bomb and their roasting is perfection (not burned, but dark enough for a rich full-bodied flavor). This is the coffee I ground on a Saturday morning when we are reading in our easy chairs and sunning our toes! They also sport organic and fair trade certification, what's not to love? Find it on Amazon for $12.34
Red Rambler Guatamala Decaf
Local coffee houses are the best place to look for SWP. Red Rambler is my husband's favorite. We get it whole bean for $14.25 a bag. It's a mild roast with citrus notes. visit their location in Wauseon, Ohio or their website http://www.redramblercoffees.com/ to order!
Maddie and Bella
This is another local coffee roaster with locations in Perrysberg, Ohio and Toledo, Ohio. They sell a Columbian Medellin SWP decaf (for $15 a bag). Their decaf espresso is also SWP and their pour-overs are to die for! Check their website for their shop locations and other area stores who carry their blends.
Theory Collaborative Peruvian Decaf
Theory Collaborative is local to Redding, CA. Their Peruvian Decaf is next on my list to try! It's described as a light roast, with smooth nutty notes. You can order a 300g bag for $16 on their website: https://theorycollaborative.com/
For more information (including a local source finder) and blends to try, visit the Swiss Water Process website: https://www.swisswater.com/
Do you have any favorite SWP coffees I should add to my list? Did some of these pique your interest? Give them a try and tell me what you think!