Did you know that coffee is the third most consumed beverage in the world? So, it is not surprising that coffee is produced in more than seventy countries. Brazil, Colombia, Vietnam, Indonesia and Ethiopia are the top producers of the best decaf coffee. In the last 150 years, Brazil held the position as the world’s largest producer and exporter of the whole bean coffee. However, the coffee plant is not native to Brazil.
According to legend, Francisco de Melo Palheta smuggled the seeds into the country in 1727. Brazil is often referred to as the breadbasket of the world due to its agricultural successes, and according to the International Coffee Organization, the country produced 2,595,000 tons (one ton is equal to approximately 2204 pounds) one of best coffee beans in 2017.
In 1903, a German merchant, Ludwig Roselius, accidentally created the original decaf coffee for the first time when one of his shipments of green coffee beans got soaked in sea water. Roselius discovered that the whole bean kept it’s flavor but lost much of the caffeine. Today various methods such as the indirect-solvent and direct-contact methods have been used to produce the best decaf coffee beans.
The Amazing Journey from Tree to Cup
Seeds come from trees known for longevity and good productivity are usually selected to grow new plants. Brazilian growers call the small leaves that appear after five to six weeks, “panther ears.” They plant seedlings in containers in the nursery where exposure to hardened conditions is gradually increased. Once the saplings are in the plantation, it takes about four to five years to reach maturity.
Harvesting the ripe fruit from the trees is labor intensive. It is estimated that the average picker can harvest around two-hundred pounds of cherries per day. In Brazil, the pickers use an interesting method called Café de Panno. The pickers spread cotton sheets under the trees to keep the ripe cherries falling off of the tree branches without touching the ground.
The two main processes to remove the husk and pulp from the beans include the dry (or natural) method and the wet (or washed) method. The natural method is used for more than sixty percent of the time. After the fruits are processed and laid out on large brick surfaces or cane matting and turned through raking several times a day. It usually takes two to three weeks for the cherries to dry.
The wet method is the process where cherries are poured in large tanks of water. Once the husk and pulp softened, it goes through a pulping machine where the pulp is washed away, leaving just the silver skin on the bean. They remain in water for between twelve to twenty-four hours allowing the fermentation process to dissolve the skin.
The whole bean is dried in large machines and separated into different grades by being run through screens and sieves. Once the beans have been sorted for the world market, they’re stored in jute or sisal bags. America imports more than one-third of the worlds coffee.
The season’s coffee beans are imported from Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Brazil usually arrive in the USA from October to February and Colombian beans around March. New crop coffees from Africa appear from October to March onwards and from the Far East are available from around October to February.
Main Types of Coffee Beans
Coffee beans vary in shape, size, flavor, and color. Arabica production accounts for more than sixty percent of the world’s coffee production. The beans are light-bodied, highly aromatic and acidulous, and mainly imported from Brazil, the Caribbean, Central America, South America, Africa, and India.
Robusta is typically a strong, full-bodied, chocolaty, or woody flavor with much higher caffeine content and less oil than the Arabica. Robusta type is grown mostly in Asia, India and some parts of Northern Africa.
According to Chapter 1 and Subchapter B, Section 173.255 of the Food and Drug Administration’s Code of Federal Regulations Title 21 revised April 2017, caffeine extraction from green beans should not exceed ten parts per million in decaffeinated instant coffee and roasted coffee. Caffeine content is not the same in all beans. Robusta has a much higher caffeine content than Arabica. While ninety-seven percent of the caffeine must be removed, Arabica will be left with less caffeine than Robusta.
Coffee may be decaffeinated using either chemical processes or water processed. The chemicals process is done by using ethyl acetate or methylene chloride. Ethyl acetate is a chemical compound from organic acid and is naturally found in apples, bananas, and coffee. The direct coffee decaf chemical method uses steam to open the pores of the beans before the methylene or ethyl acetate circulates through it. This is why some of the caffeine content is removed, during this process.
Swiss Water Method and Mountain Water Process are the same. Using the swiss water process, a mixture of coffee extract and water is circulated around and over the beans. Carbon dioxide is added to extract the caffeine. After the caffeine extraction in the water takes place, the beans pass through a bed of charcoal which absorbs about ninety-five percent of the amount of caffeine.
All decaffeinating methods involve a decaffeinating agent or chemicals such as ethyl acetate, carbon dioxide, activated charcoal, or methylene chloride. However, swiss water processed was one of the original available processes and one of the healthiest. Whole bean is always decaffeinated in it’s green state.
Decaf Coffee Roasters
It has been said that roasting is both a science and an art. Green beans are soft and moist. In the roasting process, the moisture evaporates and turns the beans into dark, fragrant coffee. This coffee roasting transforms the physical and chemical properties of the green beans and the way its brings out the flavor and aroma.
Decaffeinated beans are more difficult to roast, as they have less moisture content, are brown in color, and tend to roast mush faster than green beans. The specialized names of roasts often cause confusion. In general, roasts were then divided into categories of light roasts, medium roast, medium dark, and dark roasts.
Light roasts offer smooth, milder coffees with less oil and are referred to as Cinnamon, Light City or Half City. Medium roasted coffees are preferred in the USA and referred to as American, Breakfast, or City. This roast is known for its stronger flavor and its brown color. A medium dark roast is also called Full City, has some oil, and is dark in color with a bittersweet aftertaste. Dark roasts are well-known for their bitterness and oily surface. The dark roasts are also referred to as French, Italian, Viennese, Espresso, European, New Orleans, Continental, and High.
With so many different roasting methods, personal preference plays a large role in choosing our favorite tasting coffee. Because there are so many brands to choose from, coming up with a coffee bean blend you love may take a little effort.
Advantages of decaffeinated coffee
Excessive regular coffee drinking is linked to decreased bone density, high levels of gastric acidity, and hypertension. Research suggests that components such as the chlorogenic acid and lignans lessen oxidative stress. The high level of magnesium found in coffee decaffeinated is what improves brain and cardiovascular function.
The American Diabetes Association recently said that the consumption of decaf is associated with a significantly lower risk for diabetes. The production of glucose by the liver can be reduced by chlorogenic acid as well as lessen the hyperglycemic peak in the blood.
Caffeine may pose a health threat to people with cardiovascular disease, and how it can increase blood pressure. Caffeine also affects the adenosine in the nervous system. The chemical called adenosine helps the body with sleeping cycles. Caffeine binds to the adenosine receptors and keeps the brain alert. Circadian rhythms can be disrupted by caffeine consumption. Decaffeinated coffees do not pose these risks.
Best decaf coffees
Decaffeinated coffees represents its country of origin, roast profile, decaffeinating process, and unique flavor. Now here are a list of several choices of the top brands of the best decaf coffee:
- Cafe Don Pablo Decaf Colombia Supremo: Freshness is a high priority, and the company chooses to roast on order only. This colombian decaf is a medium-dark roast with notes of cocoa and caramel, a hint of citrus, and low acidity. Their coffee is roasted in the United States by highly experienced roasters.
- No Fun Jo Decaf: Their beans are complex with notes of milk chocolate and blueberry. This is a well-sourced high quality coffee.
- Fresh Roasted Coffee Sumatra Decaf: A very robust coffee roasted by the Loring roaster technology and is Bird Friendly, Fair Trade, USDA Organic and Rainforest Alliance certified. This is one full-bodied coffee drink with an earthy taste as well as a note of chocolate.
- Volcanica Coffee Costa Rica Decaf: An incredible quality gourmet coffee which comes well-balanced and full-bodied with notes of chocolate.
- Kicking Horse Coffee: is Fair Trade Certified, Kosher and USDA Organic. Kicking Horse is a delicious cup of joe with a deep, dark, and mellow finish, roasted in Canada.
- Koffee Kult Colombian Gourmet Decaf: A great family-owned roaster company in Florida roasting quality whole beans from more than fifty countries. Their colombian gourmet coffee blend has a heavy body with tastes of chocolate, cinnamon, and raisin.
- Koa Decaf Kona: Kona offers a delicious medium roasted decaffeinated coffee taste. Kona won Forbes’ “Best Decaf in America.”
- Eight o’clock Decaf: eight o’clock is affordable and is one of the best medium roasts made with 100% Arabica beans.
Even when you brew a small batch at home, you make it to your liking be it smooth or bitter, you may not like this one or that one as much as another brand. You may want to experiment and try a few of them.
Here is a list of some of the best name brands:
Stone Street coffee, lonestar decaf coffee, wild coffee, Pablo decaf, Street coffee, jo coffee and Costa Rica Decaf Tarrazu.
The best decaf coffee goes through various processes before it reaches the consumer. Each cup of decaf coffee is made by selecting the best beans and roasting them to perfection. The best decaffeinated coffee has magnesium, manganese, B vitamins, potassium and other nutrients that can improve brain as well as cardiovascular functions. The low caffeine from coffee will not leave you wide awake at night too. With so many decaf blend choices available you should do your own decaf coffee taste test to find your perfect match. Check price and brands as they vary greatly. Those who prefer ground coffee can find many fair trade certified organic decaf and free trade certified brands in the marketplace.