HomeCoffeeUnderstanding the Course of: Swiss Water Decaffeination

Understanding the Course of: Swiss Water Decaffeination


Persevering with our sequence on espresso processing, we study Swiss Water Decaffeinated Espresso, a 100% chemical-free decaffeination technique. 


Pictures courtesy of Swiss Water

Delving into the wonderful world of high-quality espresso, one factor you discover is the unimaginable distinction in flavors and aromas of each single espresso. 

No single specialty espresso tastes precisely the identical as one other. These variations rely on many various components, together with nation of origin, terroir and occasional selection, processing, and roasting fashion. 

A Distinctive Decaffeination Methodology 

Most espresso processes are chosen to boost a selected espresso, however some processes have a completely totally different goal. That is the case for the Swiss Water Course of, developed instead solution to decaffeinate espresso. 

A chemist in a lab pours liquid into a glass vial for testing at the Swiss Water facility. On the table are two scales timers, and a bottle with blue lid.
Stacey Lynden and her workforce carry out exams on and cup all of the coffees that Swiss Water processes.

Stacey Lynden, the cupping lab supervisor for Swiss Water Decaffeinated Espresso Inc., is the right particular person to assist us perceive extra about this particular decaffeination course of. She is answerable for high quality management for Swiss Water; she and her workforce cup and carry out bodily evaluation exams on the entire coffees Swiss Water decaffeinates. They guarantee the entire espresso that Swiss Water processes is as just like the unique espresso as doable. 

However what’s the Swiss Water Course of? And the way does it differ from different decaf? 

“The Swiss Water Course of is a 100% chemical-free decaffeination technique that makes use of water to decaffeinate espresso,” Stacey explains. “Surprisingly, the big majority of the world’s decaffeination nonetheless occurs by means of chemical-based processes that use methylene chloride or ethyl acetate. So an enormous distinction in our course of is that chemical compounds by no means enter our facility, not to mention are available in contact with our course of or the espresso. Evaluating our course of to different chemical-free processes, ours has a repute for very prime quality, significantly when evaluating pre- and post-decaffeination samples the place we wish to maximize likeness throughout them.”

An engineer in a hardhat lifts the heavy metal lid of the GCE tank in the Swiss Water facility, which holds the GCE used to extract caffeines. He is shining a flashlight into the tank.
The caffeine-rich Inexperienced Espresso Extract (GCE) tank at work.

The method to attain this prime quality is complicated and delicate, and consists of various levels.  

Inexperienced Espresso Extract 

After the inexperienced espresso has been cleaned and its silver pores and skin has been eliminated, it’s pre-soaked to develop the beans. And right here is the place issues begin to get attention-grabbing. “The caffeine-free Inexperienced Espresso Extract (GCE) is then launched into the espresso,” Stacey shares. “GCE is our decaffeination solvent, consisting of the entire naturally occurring soluble solids from espresso, minus the caffeine. When launched, the imbalance in caffeine content material causes it emigrate from the espresso beans to the GCE. When the espresso is 99.9% caffeine free (after about 10 hours) it’s despatched to the dryer, then bagged and shipped.” 

In contrast to with different particular espresso fermentation, there isn’t a particular taste profile for Swiss Water-processed decaf coffees. As talked about, Swiss Water can, and does, decaffeinate coffees from nearly each origin, preserving the particular taste of that single espresso in the very best approach.  

An engineer adjusts something on an intricate setup of hundreds of tubes and columns in the processing plant. He wears a hardhat and orange vest.
Carbon filtration traps the extracted caffeine molecules; the columns ship carbon to a furnace for caffeine removing, and the carbon is later reused.

Small Batch Sequence  

Stacey illustrates how the Swiss Water Course of maintains the prime quality of espresso by showcasing their Small Batch Sequence. It “does an important job of highlighting what the Swiss Water Course of is able to, specializing in extremely traceable, distinctive coffees that even have an emphasis on sustainability, high quality, and group,” she says.

A pure anaerobic sourced by means of Creativa Espresso District (CCD) in Chiriquí (Panama), lately featured within the sequence, is a good instance of what a Swiss Water decaf espresso can style like. “The anaerobic pure course of provides the cup a developed lactic acidity and creamy physique with complicated, intricate fruit and spice notes like cinnamon, black tea, mango, and plum,” Stacey explains. “This is only one instance, although. Now we have featured many scrumptious coffees in our Small Batch Sequence over time, together with a Pink Honey from Peru that we’re providing proper now, and a Brazil from Daterra.” 


As with all different forms of processing, the Swiss Water Course of has its advantages. 

“The Swiss Water Course of doesn’t overtake the flavour of the origin and retains the vast majority of authentic flavors intact,“ Stacey shares. “Moreover, the Swiss Water Course of has many sustainable points, specifically being chemical free. We’re proud to be the one decaffeination firm that’s centered solely on chemical-free processing. We additionally create our GCE solely as soon as, reusing it ongoing. In regard to water utilization, we return 85% of that utilized in our course of to the group provide. And we regenerate and reuse our carbon over and over.”

An engineer in hardhat and safety vest looks over the columns above enormous coffee tanks in the facility. The white tubes lead from the ceiling to the tanks, which are grey and low to the floor.
Espresso columns contained in the Swiss Water processing facility.

Stacey mentions one draw back of the method, and what they’re doing to keep away from the issue. “The issue, which is true for all of the decaffeination strategies, is that we’re speaking about a further processing step that has an impact on the bean,” Stacey explains. “Our operations and engineering groups are closely centered on minimizing our course of’s impression on the mobile construction of the espresso, which impacts the style. We rigorously monitor temperature and time all through the method and are continually measuring key variables. This is applicable each throughout caffeine extraction and in the course of the drying course of, which might have a big impression on the ultimate high quality. So, figuring out that decaffeination will nonetheless have some impression on the espresso, it is smart to decide on a course of that is ready to greatest protect and shield the espresso’s intrinsic flavors and traits, because the Swiss Water Course of does.”


Tanya Nanetti (she/her) is a specialty-coffee barista, a traveler, and a dreamer. When she’s not behind the espresso machine (or visiting some hidden nook of the world), she’s busy writing for Espresso Revolt, a web site about specialty espresso that she’s creating alongside together with her boyfriend. 




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