Decaffeinated Coffee: How It’s Made

One of coffee's most loved qualities is its ability to wake you up and get you ready for your day. But even without the caffeine, coffee’s delicious flavor and antioxidants keep people going from morning to night. Decaf coffee accounts for 15-20% of all coffee sales in the United States! Our decaf line-up has something for everyone, from light to dark and even flavored options.

We understand that for whatever reason, some of our customers want coffee without the caffeine. But how is decaf coffee made? We have a commitment to the healthiest and certified organic method of decaffeination - Swiss Water Process. Today we’re showing you how Swiss Water Process makes the best decaf coffee and why it’s the only choice when it comes to a high quality cup.

The first commercially available decaf coffees were made as early as 1905. Chemists worked to figure out ways to remove the caffeine from green coffee beans before roasting. The first methods involved intense chemicals - ones that could be compared to paint strippers. SCARY! Luckily these chemicals are rarely used today but there are still some questionable methods that can cause a consumer to pause.

Ethyl acetate and methylene chloride are used in some decaffeination methods to this day. The FDA states that trace amounts of these chemicals found in decaf coffee are not harmful for human consumption, but why risk it? Another method using super-heated CO2 has been used commercially and allows for the caffeine to be captured and used in other beverages like energy drinks. While this method has been deemed much safer than the methylene chloride process, Jim’s Organic Coffee still sticks with the process that uses water to remove caffeine.

Swiss Water Process is 100% chemical free and gentle, yielding coffee with 97% of the caffeine removed. Small batches of unroasted coffee are combined with pure water in a process that involves osmosis to removes the caffeine molecules. We also love Swiss Water Process because of their commitment to sustainability - they support causes that impact water conservation, and contribute to programs like Grounds for Health and World Coffee Research. Here’s how the Swiss Water Process works:

Step 1: Coffee Beans arrive at a Swiss Water Processing Facility and are cleaned and hydrated with pure local water. The hydration of beans allows for the removal of caffeine.

Step 2: Green Coffee Extract (CGE) is introduced to the beans in tanks. The CGE creates an environment where the caffeine leaves the bean until the ration of soluble compounds in the CGE and the compounds in coffee reach the point of equilibrium. Caffeine and CGE flow through carbon filters until all of the caffeine is trapped and removed from the CGE. The CGE can then be used again in the next batch to remove more caffeine.

Step 3: Coffee is monitored for 10 hours to make sure that the temperature, CGE flow and time controls are exactly where they should be. This yields a coffee that is almost completely caffeine free.

Step 4: The unroasted beans are dried and shipped to us, where we roast them to perfection, package them in our one-way valve bags, and send them off to our customers.

Swiss Water Process has been the choice for specialty coffee roasters for years, and we’re proud to partner with them for all of our decaf coffees. Our commitment to delicious, healthy and safe coffee means that all of our beans have the SWP stamp right on the bag. Check out our full line-up of decaf offerings here: SHOP JIM'S DECAFS