Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Decaf Coffee in 2020
One of the first things that come to our mind when we hear the coffee is the word caffeine. What actually is caffeine, and what is decaf coffee? Can expecting moms drink caffeine and does it affect the child? Is the taste affected by the process of decaffeination?
Caffeine, a Powerful Stimulant
Although famous for being contained in coffee, caffeine can be found in teas, energy drinks, beans, and even leaves of several plants, where the alkaloid serves as a natural pesticide.
It’s also known as the most common stimulant in the world. Caffeine benefits the central nervous system, improves the heart’s function, and even helps the digestive system by accelerating the production of stomach acids.
If that wasn’t enough, it’s also beneficial to the process of natural fluid removal from the body, which is why you should always have a glass of water next to your coffee cup.
It is important to note, that decaf coffee does not mean decaf. Even the most invasive methods of decaffeination remove only approximately 98% of the caffeine.
The first commercially sold decaf coffee was patented in 1906 by a German scientist, Ludwig Roselius. He used a decaffeination process in which coffee beans were steamed by acids or bases, the caffeine was removed by using benzene as a solvent. The resulted coffee was sold worldwide, most commonly known under the brand Sanka, currently part of Kraft Foods. Of course, the method has since changed dramatically as we know that benzene is a known carcinogen.
There are currently several methods used to remove access to caffeine from the coffee beans, the most common one is the European process and the Swiss water process.
European and Swiss Approach
European process uses a chemical agent, namely dichloromethane. The coffee beans are soaked in water combined with the agent and later washed before they are grounded. This method is effective but tends to affect the taste, leaving behind a slightly chemical aftertaste.
The Swiss water process is gentler and is considered healthier, as it does not use harsh chemicals. Instead, it uses special machines, that utilize active carbon and water to remove the caffeine.
This method requires the beans to be sunk in water for an extensive period of time, which naturally results in caffeine removal. The so-called caffeine water is then filtered using carbon, which effectively absorbs caffeine. The extensive soaking, however, erodes other elements in the coffee beans, which changes the coffee taste significantly.
The Swiss method is more effective, removing up to 99% of the caffeine as opposed to the European process’ 97% success rate.
Caffeine and Pregnancy
There is a lot of debate about how much caffeine if any a pregnant woman can drink. We have touched upon the topic in our previous article 6 Most Widespread Myths About Coffee. Lot of women switch to decaf coffee during pregnancy and breastfeeding, is the caution warrantied?
According to NHS, it is safe to consume up to 200 mg of caffeine a day even during the pregnancy. What is 200 mg?
- one mug of instant coffee: 100mg
- one mug of filter coffee: 140mg
- one mug of tea: 75mg
- one can of coke: 40mg
- one can of energy drink: up to 80mg
- one 50g bar of plain chocolate: most products contain less than 25mg
- one 50g bar of milk chocolate: most products contain less than 10mg
More than pregnant women, it is breastfeeding mothers that should avoid caffeine. The caffeine can be transferred through the breast milk into the body of a newborn, which can result in a fussy baby.
As with everything in this world, coffee must be consumed with reason. If you limit your coffee intake to one or two cups of good coffee during your pregnancy, you will likely experience only positive effects of this delicious drink. But as always, we recommend consulting your physician to determine if caffeine is the right choice during the pregnancy.
Taste of decaf
Is decaf any good? This question can result in a heated debate, sometimes even a fight! The hardcore coffee fans will swear that decaf coffee is not even coffee, harshly judging anyone that dares to think anything else. Truth is, decaf coffee is milder and less acidic, so it might be preferable to people with acid reflux or caffeine sensitivity. It is also loaded with antioxidants as well as traces of vitamin B3, potassium, magnesium, and niacin. The bottom line is, pick a brand that suits you the best, and enjoy every cup just the way you like it!