Many people don't realize this, but coffee roasters do not decaffeinate their own coffee. There are only a handful of facilities in the world that decaffeinate coffee, and each facility has some aspect of its process which is proprietary.
For our decaf Monte Carlo blend, a Methylene Chloride process is used. 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. This method of decaffeination (sometimes called the KVW method in Europe) removes between 96% and 97% of the caffeine from a batch of coffee. Although the process uses methylene chloride, it is almost entirely removed from the unroasted coffee (reduced to approximately 0.1ppm), and the trace amount that remains is destroyed by the roasting process.
For our decaf Honduras Luna Azul, a Swiss Water Process (SWP) is used. 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.