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Understanding the Course of: Swiss Water Decaffeination

Persevering with our sequence on espresso processing, we study Swiss Water Decaffeinated Espresso, a 100% chemical-free decaffeination methodology. 


Images courtesy of Swiss Water

Delving into the wonderful world of high-quality espresso, one factor you discover is the unbelievable distinction in flavors and aromas of each single espresso. 

No single specialty espresso tastes precisely the identical as one other. These variations rely upon many various components, together with nation of origin, terroir and occasional selection, processing, and roasting fashion. 

A Distinctive Decaffeination Methodology 

Most espresso processes are chosen to reinforce a selected espresso, however some processes have a completely completely different function. That is the case for the Swiss Water Course of, developed instead method to decaffeinate espresso. 

A chemist in a lab pours liquid into a glass vial for testing at the Swiss Water facility. On the table are two scales timers, and a bottle with blue lid.
Stacey Lynden and her group carry out assessments on and cup all of the coffees that Swiss Water processes.

Stacey Lynden, the cupping lab supervisor for Swiss Water Decaffeinated Espresso Inc., is the right particular person to assist us perceive extra about this particular decaffeination course of. She is chargeable for high quality management for Swiss Water; she and her group cup and carry out bodily evaluation assessments on the entire coffees Swiss Water decaffeinates. They guarantee the entire espresso that Swiss Water processes is as much like the unique espresso as potential. 

However what’s the Swiss Water Course of? And the way does it differ from different decaf? 

“The Swiss Water Course of is a 100% chemical-free decaffeination methodology that makes use of water to decaffeinate espresso,” Stacey explains. “Surprisingly, the massive majority of the world’s decaffeination nonetheless occurs by means of chemical-based processes that use methylene chloride or ethyl acetate. So an enormous distinction in our course of is that chemical substances by no means enter our facility, not to mention are available contact with our course of or the espresso. Evaluating our course of to different chemical-free processes, ours has a fame for very top quality, significantly when evaluating pre- and post-decaffeination samples the place we wish to maximize likeness throughout them.”

An engineer in a hardhat lifts the heavy metal lid of the GCE tank in the Swiss Water facility, which holds the GCE used to extract caffeines. He is shining a flashlight into the tank.
The caffeine-rich Inexperienced Espresso Extract (GCE) tank at work.

The method to realize this top quality is advanced and delicate, and consists of various phases.  

Inexperienced Espresso Extract 

After the inexperienced espresso has been cleaned and its silver pores and skin has been eliminated, it’s pre-soaked to increase the beans. And right here is the place issues begin to get fascinating. “The caffeine-free Inexperienced Espresso Extract (GCE) is then launched into the espresso,” Stacey shares. “GCE is our decaffeination solvent, consisting of the entire naturally occurring soluble solids from espresso, minus the caffeine. When launched, the imbalance in caffeine content material causes it emigrate from the espresso beans to the GCE. When the espresso is 99.9% caffeine free (after about 10 hours) it’s despatched to the dryer, then bagged and shipped.” 

In contrast to with different particular espresso fermentation, there is no such thing as a particular taste profile for Swiss Water-processed decaf coffees. As talked about, Swiss Water can, and does, decaffeinate coffees from nearly each origin, preserving the precise taste of that single espresso in the absolute best method.  

An engineer adjusts something on an intricate setup of hundreds of tubes and columns in the processing plant. He wears a hardhat and orange vest.
Carbon filtration traps the extracted caffeine molecules; the columns ship carbon to a furnace for caffeine elimination, and the carbon is later reused.

Small Batch Collection  

Stacey illustrates how the Swiss Water Course of maintains the top quality of espresso by showcasing their Small Batch Collection. It “does an ideal job of highlighting what the Swiss Water Course of is able to, specializing in extremely traceable, distinctive coffees that even have an emphasis on sustainability, high quality, and neighborhood,” she says.

A pure anaerobic sourced by means of Creativa Espresso District (CCD) in Chiriquí (Panama), just lately featured within the sequence, is a superb instance of what a Swiss Water decaf espresso can style like. “The anaerobic pure course of offers the cup a developed lactic acidity and creamy physique with advanced, intricate fruit and spice notes like cinnamon, black tea, mango, and plum,” Stacey explains. “This is only one instance, although. We have now featured many scrumptious coffees in our Small Batch Collection over time, together with a Crimson Honey from Peru that we’re providing proper now, and a Brazil from Daterra.” 


As with all different varieties of processing, the Swiss Water Course of has its advantages. 

“The Swiss Water Course of doesn’t overtake the flavour of the origin and retains the vast majority of authentic flavors intact,“ Stacey shares. “Moreover, the Swiss Water Course of has many sustainable elements, particularly being chemical free. We’re proud to be the one decaffeination firm that’s targeted solely on chemical-free processing. We additionally create our GCE solely as soon as, reusing it ongoing. In regard to water utilization, we return 85% of that utilized in our course of to the neighborhood provide. And we regenerate and reuse our carbon time and again.”

An engineer in hardhat and safety vest looks over the columns above enormous coffee tanks in the facility. The white tubes lead from the ceiling to the tanks, which are grey and low to the floor.
Espresso columns contained in the Swiss Water processing facility.

Stacey mentions one draw back of the method, and what they’re doing to keep away from the issue. “The issue, which is true for all of the decaffeination strategies, is that we’re speaking about an extra processing step that has an impact on the bean,” Stacey explains. “Our operations and engineering groups are closely targeted on minimizing our course of’s affect on the mobile construction of the espresso, which impacts the style. We rigorously monitor temperature and time all through the method and are consistently measuring key variables. This is applicable each throughout caffeine extraction and throughout the drying course of, which may have a major affect on the ultimate high quality. So, realizing that decaffeination will nonetheless have some affect on the espresso, it is sensible to decide on a course of that is ready to finest protect and shield the espresso’s intrinsic flavors and traits, because the Swiss Water Course of does.”


Tanya Nanetti (she/her) is a specialty-coffee barista, a traveler, and a dreamer. When she’s not behind the espresso machine (or visiting some hidden nook of the world), she’s busy writing for Espresso Rebel, an internet site about specialty espresso that she’s creating alongside along with her boyfriend. 


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