Organic, Decaf Coffee Explained

February 17th, 2010 BY nparkington | No Comments

More than $60 billion worth, 500 cups, of coffee is consumed worldwide each day. All those cups of coffee contain quite a bit of caffeine. In the United States and Canada the average daily consumption of caffeine per adult is 250mg. A typical 12oz cup of coffee has 120mg to 180mg but very few people sip on just one 12oz cup a day! In contrast, a decaffeinated cup of coffee has just 2mg to 6mg of caffeine per cup. Have you been thinking of switching to decaf? Even if you love your caffeine, you may want to consider what type of coffee you’re drinking and where it came from. Here’s a quick look at organic coffee and decaffeination methods:

Coffee plants, primarily from Africa and Latin America’s tropical areas, thrive in the shade and have traditionally been grown under the rainforest canopy. In recent years farmers have switched to growing coffee plants in shade farms. However, full-sun coffee plants do exist since they tend to produce five times as many plants than shade grown, so, rainforest land and bird habitats have been decimated to grow coffee. Full-sun coffee plants need pesticides and chemical fertilizers to thrive; farmers’ health is at risk because of exposure to these chemicals. You can make wise choices by selecting “Certified Organic”, “Fair Trade Certified”, “Shade Grown” coffee (decaf or regular). Certified organic coffee is grown without fertilizers and pesticides therefore protecting growers, wildlife, and waterways from toxic chemicals. Fair trade coffee is bought directly from the growers, therefore protecting farmers and the future of their product. Shade grown coffee is grown under the rainforest canopy or in other shade conditions.

Decaf coffee options — Why choose SWISS WATER PROCESS decaf?
Not all decaffeination methods are the same. There are three common methods: 
(1) 80% of decaf coffee on the market is processed with chemical solvents like methylene chloride (dichloromethane) and ethyl acetate used to strip caffeine molecules from the green coffee bean (pre-roasting). Dichloromethane is on the National Cancer Institute’s list of possible human carcinogens and ethyl acetate may cause skin problems.
(2) The greenest option is the Swiss Water Process which uses water to gently remove the caffeine until the coffee beans are 99.9% caffeine-free and chemical-free, while maintaining as much flavor as possible. 
(3) An alternative to the Swiss Water Method is the carbon dioxide method which soaks the beans in carbon dioxide and water to remove caffeine. 

Enjoy sampling different brands Organic, Fair Trade, Shade Grown coffee [decaffeinated with the Swiss Water Method if you choose decaf] to select your favorite. Since I’m off caffeine, I’m a big fan of Whole Foods’ Organic Buzz Free Decaf but there are plenty of other brands available: Dean’s Beans, Cafe MamCafe Altura, National Wildlife by Green Mountain, and many more. 

(Credits: SwissWater, Teecino, Green Guide)