Science of Decaffeination
It’s not rocket science, but almost
The Swiss Water® Process is a taste-driven, 100% chemical free, water decaffeination process that delivers to today’s consumer expectations. Certified organic by OCIA, it is used by premium roasters and retailers and demanded by informed and discerning decaf drinkers.
We use Six Sigma Methodology to continuously measure and improve our process, and Quality Management Systems to maintain and consistently deliver quality product. Once Swiss Water® Process green decaf beans are roasted, the result is a full bodied, flavorful cup of coffee — decaf coffee, without compromise.
Watch our latest video that explains in detail the Swiss Water® Process:
Here’s a brief description of the process:
- When the green coffee beans arrive, they are cleaned and pre-soaked using water which hydrates the beans and prepares them for caffeine extraction.
- Green Coffee Extract (GCE) is important to our process. GCE was created by taking a number of containers of Arabica coffee beans and soaking them in water until the caffeine migrated from the beans. We then put the GCE through a carbon filter to capture the caffeine resulting in a water that is saturated with soluble coffee solids less the caffeine.
- With this GCE in place, new green coffee is placed in the GCE after a brief pre-soak (to expand the coffee and make it ready for caffeine extraction).
- The concentration level and the stability of the soluble coffee components in the GCE is maintained at equilibrium with the green coffee beans – critical to our process.
- By carefully monitoring time, temperature, and flow, we are able to optimize the high pressure caffeine specific driving force between the bean and the GCE. The result is a net extractive process whereby only caffeine is removed, leaving the coffee’s unique origin flavor characteristics intact.
- The GCE, now saturated with caffeine, moves from the bean holding tanks to our proprietary carbon filtering system which is designed to specifically trap the caffeine molecules and nothing else, thereby maintaining and protecting the concentration level of the soluble coffee components in the GCE. This is a continuous process in which the GCE flows from the carbon filtration system back to the extraction columns until the coffee beans are 99.9% caffeine free. This takes approx 8-10 hours and is closely monitored and controlled by our skilled operators.
- When the carbon is saturated with caffeine it moves to the carbon regeneration furnace where the caffeine is burned away and the carbon revitalized based on our fractal geometry carbon specifications.
- Virgin carbon is added post-furnace at the attrition rate. Attrition is defined as carbon that no longer meets our strict quality standards.
- Our GCE is continuously maintained by our water-washed carbon solid recovery program.
- After the beans are decaffeinated, they are removed from the holding tanks, dried, bagged, tagged, and ready to be roasted.