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Come si ottiene il caffè decaffeinato? Il processo di decaffeinizzazione

Decaffeinated coffee: how does the decaffeination process happen?

Perhaps you are not very familiar with it, but the Kaffe Handels Aktien Gesellschaft is part of the lives and habits of many of us.

In fact, this is the full name of decaffeinated coffee.

It originated in Germany, more specifically in Brema, and dates to 1905, when Ludwig Roselius invented the process for extracting caffeine from coffee and became the founder of the first ever company to produce decaffeinated coffee.

Before understanding how to eliminate it, it is useful to understand what caffeine is, considered the most widespread bland stimulant in the world.

Its chemical composition was identified more recently than we might think and certainly with the help of someone we would never have suspected.

In 1819, a good 200 years after its arrival in Europe, the caffeine molecule was isolated by  Ferdinand Rungela, following a collaboration with one of the most well-known names of that period, Wolfgang Goethe, who was not only a writer, poet and dramatist, but also a scholar of chemistry and biology.

The phases of the decaffeination process

The different methods for decaffeination differ from each other mainly in terms of the substances used during the process, whereas all the different techniques have the same phases:

Swelling

The selected coffee beans of the blend are “swollen” with water and steam to spread out their cellular structure, making it easier to extract the caffeine in a homogeneous way during the subsequent processes.

Extraction

The fundamental part of the process.

Thanks to a specific solvent, the caffeine is “captured” and transported out of the coffee bean.

Retrieval of the solvent

The solvent is completely eliminated from the coffee so that it can be retrieved and used again for subsequent processing.

This part is carried out scrupulously both for economic reasons, seeing as the product used is very expensive, and also because the law imposes certain maximum levels of residues.

Drying

The beans, still moist from the processing, are “dried,” eliminating any residual water.

Here close attention is paid to the details, because the level of moisture is one of the fundamental factors in the final analysis of the product.

Packaging

Once the decaffeinated coffee is ready, it is bagged in new sacks, or those provided by the client themselves to optimize the logistics.

Analysis

In order to reassure the customer that the product they are drinking is really decaffeinated, many analyses have to be carried out: the caffeine residue (no greater than 0.1% by weight in Italy and in most European countries), of solvent (no greater than 2 parts per million of roasted beans for dichloromethane) and moisture (no greater than 11% by Italian law).

What are the differences in flavor between a decaffeinated coffee and an espresso?

In the field of coffee, there are many schools of thought that battle it out.

Starting with those who want sugar in it (normal? brown sugar? or the low-calorie version?), moving on to those who prefer it plain.

One of the most common disputes is between those who would never drink a decaffeinated coffee because it doesn’t have a robust enough flavor and those who would.

Obviously we don’t want to take sides, but we would like to recommend a product on which you might all agree: the Kavè Decaf, which thanks to the scrupulous work done on the coffee beans manages to give this variety a robust and well-balanced flavor, with a preponderance of sweet over a medium-low level of bitterness and  an almost absent level of acidity.

Created exclusively using the best single-origin blends from South America and India, it is available in capsules and ground for espresso machines, French cafettières and stovetop moka pots.

Furthermore, to reassure our customers about the decaffeination process and processing quality, the whole Kavè Decaf range has been certified by the Istituto Nazionale Espresso Italiano (National Institute of Italian Espresso).

Is decaffeinated coffee bad for you?

Staying on the subject of false myths, we have heard and read so many times that decaffeinated coffee is bad for your health, but no public health institution has ever highlighted any significant health problems from a medical or epidemiological point of view.

The results of the studies conducted by the EFSA, European Food Safety Authority have been published which reassure the Member States that had expressed concern surrounding the harmful effects associated with the consumption of caffeine.

The good sense required here is the same as that to be applied with normal coffee: do not overindulge in the case of cardiovascular diseases, insomnia or anxiety and acid reflux.

In these circumstances it is not recommended that you consume even decaffeinated coffee, since the caffeine content may be very low, but not totally absent.

Having written about the possible negative consequences of drinking decaffeinated coffee, as it is our duty to report, we should also tell you about the positive effects.

The small amount of caffeine present in decaffeinated coffee is actually a powerful ally for your health: it aids gastric secretion and peristalsis, thus helping digestion; it is recommended in the case of headaches, because thanks to its vasoconstrictive effects it helps to reduce pain and it’s also good for the liver because the diterpenes, the flavonoids present in coffee, protect liver cells from damage caused by free radicals produced by the metabolic reactions of the liver.

The effects that we have just listed can also be found, at least partly, in tea, since the caffeine found in coffee is closely related to theophylline.

After having told you all about the properties of decaffeinated coffee, we suggest you also learn all about the secrets of its close “relative”, tea, with a story that starts 5000 years ago.

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