Swiss Water Process decaf & how decaffeinated coffee is made

  • By Bradley Carter
Swiss Water Process decaf & how decaffeinated coffee is made

It’s been said decaffeinated coffee is kind of like a hairless cat — it exists, but it doesn’t make it right. Why? Well, maybe because coffee is naturally caffeinated and coffee without caffeine is, well, unnatural.

But more, many people don’t like decaffeinated coffee because in their experience, it has always tasted bad, and two, they drink coffee for the kick. For these individuals, bad tasting coffee with no kick is pointless — and as coffee roasters, we agree.

That’s why we sell only Swiss Water Process decaf coffee — a chemical-free processed decaffeinated coffee that actually still tastes good.

In fact, with our Swiss Water Process Colombian Decaf coffee, as coffee roasters we have found that the people who buy it tend to be of that breed that love coffee for its flavor — not for the kick.

So what is Swiss Water Process decaf coffee?

We’ll get to that by talking about how decaf is made.

How Decaf Coffee is Made

Coffee is decaffeinated primarily through one of two ways — chemically or through Swiss Water Process.

Caffeine extraction by chemical

In chemical or solvent-based decaffeination, green coffee beans are first soaked in a water bath and then applied with a solvent, typically either methylene chloride — a chemical commonly used as a degreaser or paint stripper — or ethyl acetate — a natural fruit ether derived from acetic acid (think vinegar). This solvent extracts the coffee flavor compounds and the caffeine.

The caffeine is then drawn out of the solvent and coffee flavor rich solvent is used with the next batch of beans to be decaffeinated. As the solvent is so saturated with coffee flavor, it only extracts caffeine from the beans, leaving the coffee flavor behind.

The newly decaffeinated beans are then taken out, dried and bagged to head to the roasters. 

While these chemical methods are deemed safe by the US Food and Drug Administration, many people who drink coffee that has been decaffeinated this way say the flavor suffers.

Caffeine extraction by Swiss Water Process

This decaffeination process, originally invented in Switzerland but actually executed in Canada, uses water and not chemicals as the solvent.

Just like with the chemical process, the Swiss Water Process starts with green, unroasted coffee beans being immersed in water, causing the beans to swell and their pores to open, allowing the flavor and caffeine to over time leach into the water. Next, this coffee extract and caffeine-rich water is sent through series of activated carbon filters which remove the caffeine from the water, leaving behind GCE — Green Coffee Extract — water rich with coffee flavor compounds. This water is used as a base for producing decaffeinated beans.

Now that the GCE is made, a new batch of beans to be decaffeinated is then immersed in water. As the water is already full of coffee flavor, all the water extracts is caffeine, leaving coffee flavor in the beans. The carbon filters remove the caffeine from the GCE and the newly decaffeinated beans are sent on their way.

Here's a video describing the process:


Which Is Better?

So now that you know how coffee is decaffeinated, and what Swiss Water Process is, you might be wondering which is better. 

The answer to this question literally depends on your tastes.

We prefer the Swiss Water Process for two reasons:

  • As no chemicals were used, just water from the mountains of British Columbia, we know there are no even trace amounts of methylene chloride or ethyl acetate in our beans.
  • We find Swiss Water Process decaf coffee tastes better as this process best preserves the original flavor of the coffee, especially as no other trace solvent chemicals add that flavor.

That’s why our decaf is only Swiss Water Process coffee — it’s chemical-free and it actually tastes good.

But don't take our word for it! Stop on by the shop and buy our Swiss Water Process Colombia or order it online by clicking the link below … and see for yourself!



About G4C

Grounds 4 Compassion is an Oklahoma City-based company focused on providing freshly roasted quality coffee for our customers and investing back into our community. Our goal is ultimately to help improve our community and our world as we endeavor to make a good cup of coffee.

Click here to learn more about or to shop Grounds 4 Compassion.