Decaf coffee gets a bad rap sometimes. That could be because many companies use lower quality coffee beans for their decaf. At Equal Exchange, we believe decaf coffee can be - and should be - just as flavorful as regular coffee. Otherwise, what's the point?
Step 1: Find good coffee
As with all our coffee, we seek out the best beans from small farmer co-ops around the world. Our Purchasing and Quality Control teams spend months abroad each year searching for the sources of great coffee and developing these relationships, because quality coffee depends on close partnerships with our growing communities. Besides providing excellent coffee, our partners must also demonstrate dedication and success in environmental stewardships, economic democracy, community development and positive political action.
Step 2: Remove the caffeine
Once we've got the best coffee beans, there are many ways to remove the caffeine. Equal Exchange coffee is primarily decaffeinated using two processes: CR3 Natural Liquid Carbon Dioxide Decaffeination and Mountain Water Process. Both are natural forms of decaffeination that preserve the quality of the coffee beans, which is why the flavors are't affected.
CR3 Natural Liquid Carbon Dioxide Decaffeination:
1. Unroasted (green) coffee beans are moistened with water and pressurized in a chamber with liquid carbon dioxide, which draws the caffeine out of the bean.
2. The CO2 is circulated through an evaporator to separate the caffeine from the CO2.
3. The CO2 is then recondensed and recirculated through the coffee. This cycle repeats until the decaffeination is complete.
4. The coffee is dried to return it to its original moisture content.
The use of carbon dioxide and water is a natural process that poses no risk to your health (think of carbonated water - it contains the same natural liquid carbon dioxide).
Mountain Water Process:
1. Green coffee beans are immersed in water to extract the caffeine. The water contains the soluble components of the coffee beans, which holds the elements of the flavor, so that the beans maintain their original components.
2. To separate the caffeine from the water containing the soluble components, the water passes through a special filter, which removes the caffeine. This results in coffee solid soluble-charged water saturated with the flavor components but free of caffeine, which is used again in the extraction process.
And there you have it. From the careful cultivation by our farmer partners, to the natural decaffeination processes that preserve the flavors of the green beans, to skilled roasting by our production team, each step is artfully executed to bring you the finest decafs- ahem - the finest coffees available