Industry and business

Decaffeinated coffee (Decaf) and how to prepare it

Decaffeinated coffee (Decaf) and how to prepare it

The coffee industry earns about 19 billion dollars every year. People love the taste, but sometimes, they don’t like the jittery effect that caffeine produces. They want to enjoy a fresh hot cup after dinner, but they also want to be able to sleep. Fortunately, there is decaffeinated coffee, which was produced in various forms and marketed as Decaf Coffee, all by chance in 1905.

Caffeine

It is a substance of organic compounds, which is found in large quantities in the tissues and fluids of the human body and other organisms such as plants, where it acts as a natural pesticide, paralyzing and killing some insects that feed on these plants. It is classified as a psychoactive drug, as caffeine acts as a stimulant for the central nervous system in humans and temporarily renews activity.

Caffeine is found as an essential element in coffee beans, and although it has many benefits that the body needs, excessive consumption causes a reverse effect. Therefore, drinking coffee continuously causes a lot of harm, especially for pregnant women. Studies have shown that excessive consumption of drinks containing caffeine causes birth defects in fetuses or may cause their death and miscarriage, and caffeine also harms breastfeeding mothers and infants.

Some harms of caffeine

  • Caffeine causes anemia, weakness, depression and exhausts and damages the pancreas.
  • Continuous consumption of caffeine causes anxiety, headache and insomnia, and it may also cause addiction.
  • It makes the body lose a lot of minerals and vitamins.
  • Caffeine affects the absorption of nutrients, such as calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium.
  • It harms breastfeeding mothers and infants, and it may also cause birth defects in fetuses.
  • It may impair short-term memory and may impair remembering some names.

What is decaffeinated coffee?

Decaffeinated coffee is coffee from which caffeine has been removed using specific methods. The term “Decaf Coffee” is used to refer to coffee that is caffeine-free, short for decaffeinated. This type of coffee is a solution for pregnant women who enjoy drinking coffee and for those who suffer from caffeine addiction, experiencing health effects due to excessive caffeine consumption. However, decaffeinated coffee is not completely free of caffeine. It still contains varying amounts, typically around 3 mg per cup. In comparison, an average regular cup of coffee contains about 70-140 mg of caffeine.

The history of decaf coffee production

The first person to isolate pure caffeine from coffee beans to produce decaffeinated coffee was Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge in 1820. However, he did not pursue commercial use of this process. It was not until 1905 when German coffee merchant Ludwig Roselius discovered the first commercially successful method to remove caffeine from coffee. Roselius believed that his father died due to excessive caffeine consumption, which led him to search for a way to extract caffeine from coffee beans. By accident, he found that soaking his shipment of coffee beans in water removed the caffeine. Instead of discarding these beans, he decided to process and test them, discovering that the coffee had been stripped of its caffeine content but still retained its taste, albeit somewhat salty. This led to the discovery of commercial decaffeination methods, and the coffee was sold under the name “Decaf Coffee” to people who enjoy coffee but suffer from caffeine-related issues.

Various methods have been developed to remove caffeine from coffee beans, leading to the availability of numerous decaffeinated coffee products. One of the methods relied upon by Roselius involved steaming the beans with different acids or bases and using benzene as a solvent to remove caffeine. These extraction processes are carried out by specialized companies due to their complexity.

Naturally caffeine-free coffee

In 2004, researchers discovered that there are naturally decaffeinated coffee strains that contain almost no caffeine in their famous Arabica coffee beans. Around 3,000 coffee plants from Ethiopia were studied by Brazilian agricultural engineers, and they found three plants that lacked the necessary enzyme for caffeine synthesis (the enzyme synthesis). These strains may have the ability to transfer their low-caffeine trait to other Arabica coffee plants through hybridization. A commercially decaffeinated crop was produced within five years as part of coffee’s genetic breeding. It was astonishing to find coffee naturally without caffeine, instead of removing it through methods that cause the loss of distinct flavors.

Preparing decaf coffee at home

After the emergence and popularity of decaffeinated coffee, many people desired to prepare caffeine-free coffee at home using coffee beans. However, all the preparation methods failed to achieve the same taste as before, and they couldn’t make decaf coffee that preserved the distinctive flavors. As mentioned earlier, this process is somewhat complicated and requires specialized expertise. Despite that, some coffee enthusiasts who prioritize health have developed a method to prepare a coffee-like, completely caffeine-free beverage at home using roasted barley, known as barley coffee.

The taste of Decaf Coffee

It is a coffee similar to regular coffee that is not decaffeinated, but less flavorful. Many of the flavors present in coffee beans evaporate when caffeine is removed from them, and this may vary from one method to another. Here it can be said that the taste of Decaf Coffee depends on the process of decaffeination and on the coffee beans used, because caffeine does not have a distinctive flavor, so if the process of decaffeination is done with high quality, you will get a perfect cup of coffee free of harm.

Advantages and benefits of decaffeinated coffee

  • It reduces the risk of diabetes more than regular coffee, by 7% for each cup a person consumes daily.
  • You can drink it and enjoy its taste at any time without worrying about sleep.
  • Pregnant women can drink it without worrying about their child, from the harms of regular coffee.
  • It protects the nerve cells in the brain. This can help reduce the incidence of some neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.
  • It is very beneficial for the liver, as consuming decaffeinated coffee has been linked to lower levels of 3 enzymes in the liver.
  • Reduces the risk of death from stroke and heart disease.
  • Scientific studies have found that it helps reduce the risk of rectal cancer by 48%.
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