We’ve always said at 2%Jazz that decaf customers are something special - they aren’t here just for a jolt of caffeine to get them to work on time, they’re here because they love the taste. Decaf coffee drinkers tend to be some of the most loyal as well because, let’s face it, a lot of coffee roasters just don’t take the low-test stuff as seriously.
In fact, when we started to look into it, we couldn’t find a single roaster in North America who featured a line-up of different decaf coffees on their online store, let alone in their brick and mortar business!
Well, no one that is, except for us.
Today, in honour of our best decaf coffee lovers, let’s talk about the amazing world exclusively reserved for decaf coffee.
Our Low-Caffeine and Decaf Coffee LineUp
In the last few years, our team at 2%Jazz has been carefully expanding our offerings of decaf and low-caffeine coffees. These blends are carefully designed to cater to our loyal decaf coffee lovers.
And, we think we’re better for it.
Why? Because not everyone can drink caffeine all day (or at all!). Plus, why should great coffee be relegated to mornings only? Who says that a great cup of coffee after dinner should keep you up all night?
In fact, when it comes to delivering a full-bodied, great tasting cup of coffee, we believe all barriers should be removed. Even the caffeine.
Let’s explore a little on how 2%Jazz, in conjunction with our amazing growers and partners, makes the perfect cup of decaffeinated coffee.
Why is Caffeine in Coffee Beans?
Caffeine is a Natural Pesticide
Essentially, caffeine is a bug repellent and it protects the coffee bean plant from insects. When insects eat leaves, fruit, and other parts of a Coffee Arabica plant, properties in the caffeine molecule cause a reaction in the insect that eventually kills them.
In fact, caffeine can disable the production of essential enzymes in bugs, and that is what causes them to die. Therefore, bugs tend to stay away from plants containing caffeine.
Caffeine Deters Hungry Animals
The chemical responsible for that alertness we associate with a good cup of coffee is also terribly bitter. This bitter taste further deters any hungry critters from chowing down on the sweet, juicy berries of the coffee plant.
But, Caffeine Entices Pollinators
Caffeine, however, is also found in the nectar of coffee flowers. When you consider all flowers need a pollinator to produce fruit, doesn’t having a pesticide in the nectar seem counter intuitive? Don’t they want to attract pollinators?
Honeybees Love Caffeinated Nectar
As it turns out, honeybees like a bit of morning java too. How do we know? Recent studies have shown that this is exactly the case.
Honeybees adore caffeine in low doses. Honeybees have demonstrated they prefer nectar with a bit of caffeine. They are known to return to coffee plants more frequently than plants without caffeinated nectar. The association is thought to be derived from the activation of reward center in the brain, just like it does for us.
Turns out, the bees like a little buzz as well (Just a little bee humour for ya)!
How the Best Decaf Coffee Beans are Made
Decaffeination is always an extra processing step (well… almost always. I’ll get to that later), because of course, caffeine is naturally occurring in Coffea Arabica.
2%Jazz Decaf Coffee Lineup
2%Jazz offers three different decaf coffees in our line up:
- The ubiquitous Swiss Water process,
- the gaining-in-popularity Sugarcane process
- Laurina varietal coffee
The Swiss Water Process
Swiss Water Process isn’t very swiss at all - they do it right here in BC! The Swiss Water decaffeination facility is located in Burnaby, just across the water from our home in Victoria, BC. It’s probably the most recognized name in decaf coffee processes in this part of the world.
How Does the Swiss Water Process Work?
The Swiss Water process relies on the principle of diffusion in a three-step process designed to remove caffeine from green (unroasted) coffee beans.
- Step One: Clean and Presoak. Green coffee beans (ones that have been dried but remain unroasted) are soaked in water to rehydrate them. Rehydration prepares them for releasing caffeine, removes dirt, soluble impurities, and silverskin.
- Step Two: Green Coffee Extract. Rehydrated green coffee beans are placed in a caffeine-extraction medium called Green Coffee Extract (GCE). The process of removing caffeine from the beans begins and takes 8 - 10 hours. Process endures until the green coffee has less than 0.0.1% caffeine left in the bean.
- Step Three: Beans are removed from solution, sans caffeine. Process starts again. Beans are removed and taken for drying and packaging. The GCE is filtered and processed to be used for decaffeinating the next batch.
Advantages of the Swiss Water Process
The big advantage to SWP is the lack of chemicals - it’s just coffee, temperature, water, and time used in the process. Some people feel like there is a characteristic dilute taste to this method, however, it remains one of the most popular methods of decaffeinating coffee around.
The Sugarcane Process
The Sugarcane Process uses simple chemistry to extract caffeine from a green coffee bean. It relies on Ethyl Acetate (EA) for caffeine extraction. EA is made with naturally occurring ethanol from fermented sugarcane molasses that is mixed with acetic acid (strong vinegar!). The resulting solution is a clear liquid called Ethyl Acetate (EA).
In the Sugarcane process, first the green coffee is soaked and rehydrated. Then, the clean and hydrated beans are washed in EA. The EA extracts the coffee of its caffeine content. Afterwards, the freshly decaffeinated beans are washed in pure water until all remaining EA residue is removed.
Finally, the beans are steamed to ensure any and all EA is left hiding inside the pores of the coffee.
Advantages of the Sugarcane Decaf Process
We like this process because it really retains the flavor of the coffee, even in some cases enhancing it’s natural sweetness, and because the boiling point of of ethyl acetate is much lower than water (77.1C) there’s no danger of it remaining in the roasted product.
Laurina - Nature's Low Caffeine Coffee
Last but not least is a special coffee we found on a trip to Nicaragua - anaerobic cold fermented, natural processed Laurina. I know, I know, it’s a mouthful, but the descriptors give you an idea of the work that goes into this coffee.
When we first tasted a cup of Laurina, we were blown away by its soft sweetness and creamy, lactic acidity.
Laurina is a tricky coffee to grow because of it’s lower caffeine content. While less caffeine makes its beans sweeter, it also makes it more susceptible to insect damage. And, it’s less enticing to honeybees and other pollinators!
Fortunately, we’ve been lucky to find a steady (albeit limited) supply of this coffee through our good friends at Fincas Mierisch in Nicaragua.
Laurina is not all the way decaf, but it doesn’t need another processing step either so we’ll meet it halfway. The care in the processing the growers taks really makes this coffee spectacular - 72 hours under a cold, oxygen free ferment, and then sun drying in fruit makes the cherry-forward flavors pop!
Ready for the Best Decaf Coffee? Shop 2%Jazz!
And there you have it! Decaf done right. Check us out online for any of these offerings, or show up in store and we’ll be happy to talk your ear off about them - and give you a taste of what decaf can be.