Decaf at Brew Lab


Decaffeinated coffee has existed for over a hundred years, with the first commercial process for decaffeinating coffee beans being developed by Ludwig Roselius, a German coffee merchant, in 1903. Roselius created a system of steaming the unroasted beans in a salt water solution before using benzene as a solvent to extract the caffeine. Nowadays there are two main processes used for extracting caffeine from coffee beans- the C02 method and the Swiss water process. The CO2 – or Carbonated Water – method uses two elements, pure water and carbon dioxide, to extract caffeine. The CO2 method tends to take place in Germany and remains a popular option. With the Swiss water process, unroasted green beans are soaked in water repeatedly until the caffeine and coffee solids are released into the water and the beans become 99.9% caffeine free.

Many speciality coffee shops find providing a decaf option as something of a problem. In short, most decaf options are simply not of a very high standard. As a result, many baristas treat decaffeinated coffee with short shrift- a collective shrug of the shoulders translating as “it's only decaf”. It could be argued that decaf drinkers should actually be treated with more attention that those who drink caffeinated coffee; decaf drinkers are drinking their coffee for the taste alone, with no benefit of an added caffeine kick. It is hard to have much passion for decaffeinated coffee if the product you are using is not comparable in quality to the other beverages you are providing. Luckily, we think we've found a truly groundbreaking decaf option that more than holds its own against our other coffees.

Columbia El Meridiano Sugar Cane Decaf is a particularly interesting decaf option for a few reasons. Firstly, it's brewed, rather than espresso based. Secondly, it is produced by a new decaffeination process called the sugar cane process. Thirdly, and most importantly: it tastes fantastic.

Gilardo Gutirrrez (and his cat), one of the farmers from the ASOCEAS coop (Source: Has Bean)

The sugar cane process involves using Ethyl Acetate, a naturally occurring substance found in sugar cane, as a solvent to remove caffeine from the green coffee beans. While most decaffeination processes have a negative effect on the taste of the coffee, this process has resulted in a decaffeinated coffee that is both well rounded and full of body. When Steve Leighton from Has Bean cupped this particular coffee, he actually scored it higher than the caffeinated equivalent.

We are very excited at Brew Lab to provide a decaffeinated coffee that we are proud to serve. We think that this coffee is a real game changer and would welcome any feedback from those who try it.

Colombia El Meridiano Colombian SC Decaf Country of origin: Colombia State: Tolima Farm: 58 small coffee growers that make up the ASOCEAS coop Varieties: Caturra, Colombia, Typica Process: Washed Decaffeination process: Ethyl acetate derived from sugar cane Roaster: Has Bean Brewing method: Clever Dripper Tasting notes: Biscuit, jam, strawberries