Other than Swiss Water, there are Mountain Water and Carbon Dioxide process which are less scary sounding than Methylene Chloride process. But technically speaking water H2O and Carbon Dioxide CO2 are chemical compounds. In the future, you can also find naturally decaffeinated coffee, i.e. coffee plants grew without caffeine...but I think they are genetically modified.
Decaffeinated coffee does exist, but it is like asking for sugar without sweetness. Absolutely no doubt decaffeinated coffee is good for health but the fun of having delicious coffee is lost. basically coffee acts as a stimulant which is not achieved with decaffeinated coffee....
Does the decaffeination process alter the flavor of coffee???
I wouldn't know the answer, as I don't drink decaf.
Perhaps I should wiki it...
Swiss water process
The Swiss Water Process is a method of decaffeinating coffee beans developed by the Swiss Water Decaffeinated Coffee Company. To decaffeinate the coffee bean by the Swiss Water method, a batch of green (unroasted) beans is soaked in hot water, releasing caffeine. When all the caffeine and coffee solids are released into the water, the beans are discarded. The water then passes through a carbon filter that traps caffeine but lets the coffee solids pass through. The resulting solution, called "flavor-charged" water by the company, is then put in a similar filtration device, and new coffee beans are added. Since the flavor-charged water cannot remove any of the coffee solids from the new beans, only the caffeine is released. The process repeats, filtering out all the caffeine until the beans are 99.9% caffeine free. These beans are removed and dried, and thus retain most if not all of their flavour and smell.
Although the process originated in Switzerland in the 1930s, today the world's only Swiss Water decaffeination facility is based near Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
I have spoken to many bean importers about this topic. Most agree that there may be a slight change in the taste of the coffee. This change is usually so miniscule that the average coffee drinker wouldnt notice. For those that may be concerened about the "Chemical process" of decaffeination see below. I wrote this yaers back to give to customers that were concerned about methylene chloride.( For those that have read Uncommon Grounds this may seem familiar, lol ) Whats cool is the "caffeinated" water is sold to soft drink manufactorers!
Origins of Decaffeinated Coffee
In the early1900's, there were 'coffee wars' as they were called in the U.S... Many companies boasted the 'best coffee', but as people found out, these companies were making cut coffee. To save money, these companies added things to the grinds such as chicory, Postum (cereal), almonds, barley, sawdust, wheat, and probably 50 other ingredients. However, not all coffee companies employed this method; there will still some roasters maintaining the integrity
of the coffee industry.
There was a chemist named Dr. Wiley who wanted to change all that by lobbying The Pure Food and Drugs Act. He said "the real evil of food adulteration is the deception of the consumer", which led to labels on packages and containers listing poisonous substances. Caffeine was not placed on these labels. Coffee was the most popular beverage during that time, with twelve pounds being consumed by every man woman and child annually!
After a few years Dr. Wiley got carried away, as reported by a newspaper;” coffee drunkenness is a commoner failing then a whiskey habit... the most common drug in this country is caffeine..."
He soon attacked Coca-Cola, but felt that coffee contained caffeine naturally and should not be targeted. Coke was soon on trial in the Supreme Court and eventually won the case. This was enough to scare the coffee companies though, and so they began to look for naturally decaffeinated coffee. They found four varieties, mostly in Madagascar. But the drink produced from these seeds was bitter and GROSS!
There was a German around the same time, Ludwig Roselius, from Bremen, who succeeded in extracting caffeine from green beans by superheating them with steam, then flooding them with a solvent Benzol. He patented the process in 1906.
This soon became the French decaf called Sanka, and in Germany Kaffee Hag. Another German Robert Hubner introduced Hubner Health Coffee in 1911 to America, claiming to extract the caffeine through a pure-water process without using a chemical solvent.
There were still attacks on caffeine up until the late seventies, and even decaf came under fire.
In 1975 the National Cancer Institute said that, in massive doses the solvent trichloroethylene ‘TCE ‘caused cancer in rats. While TCE was used to decaffeinate green beans, very little of the solvent remained in the beans and the rest was burned off during the roast. A General Foods executive pointed out that a human would have to consume 50 million daily cups of decaf for a lifetime to approximate the doses given the rats. The companies abandoned TCE anyways and switched to Methylene Chloride, which is widely used today. The green beans are steamed and then “bathed” in this solvent. The remaining chemicals from this method dissipate at 200 degrees F; most coffee is roasted to 400 degrees F and higher!
In 1979 the Swiss Manufacturing firm, Coffex, invented the "Swiss Water" method. Although methylene chloride left virtually no chemical on the roasted beans, the new process appealed to the health-conscious crowd.
The decaf variety still had less flavor due to the loss of oils, but the 1980's variety offered better flavor than its predecessors. Another method of decaffeination involves soaking the beans in compressed CO2. This method is good, but not widely used.
*Some information obtained from the book ‘Uncommon Grounds’ by Pendergrast.