Here at La Colombe, we process decaffeinated coffee in two different ways!
For our Monte Carlo blend, we use Methylene Chloride (MC). Methylene chloride is a solvent used in both methods of direct decaffeination. The methylene chloride process is thought by some in the coffee industry to maintain coffee flavor better than other processes. During this decaffeination process, the coffee beans are soaked in hot water to extract most of the caffeine from the beans. The beans are then removed from the water and the methylene chloride solvent is added to bond with the caffeine. After the methylene chloride/caffeine compound is skimmed from the surface of the mixture, the beans are returned to reabsorb the liquid. T his method of decaffeination (sometimes called the KVW method in Europe) removes between 96% and 97% of the caffeine from a batch of coffee.
For all of our other decaf options, we use the Swiss Water Process (SWP). Swiss Water Process (SWP) coffees are free of added chemicals and processed using the cleanest water possible. The SWP process works through diffusion, not osmosis. Initially, green coffee beans were soaked in water until all the caffeine and flavor compounds were extracted. The beans were then discarded, and the solution they created was run through a carbon filter that removed the caffeine, leaving behind only the flavor compounds—what SWP calls its green coffee extract, or GCE. When SWP decaffeinates a coffee, the beans are soaked with a small amount of the GCE, which creates a saturated solution in which the caffeine leaves but the coffee’s flavor compounds remain in place, unaffected.