How do they decaffeinate coffee or tea? Do they fill it full of chemicals?

How do they decaffeinate coffee or tea? Do they fill it full of chemicals?

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0 thoughts on “How do they decaffeinate coffee or tea? Do they fill it full of chemicals?”

  1. Coffee and tea are already filled full of chemicals. The way you’ve asked the question suggests that you have chemophobia: an irrational fear of “chemicals.” If the word “chemical” triggers a negative emotional response, that’s a pretty good sign.
    Chemophobia – Wikipedia …

  2. No they don’t ‘fill it full of chemicals’. Growing the coffee or tea plants fills them full of chemicals. Yes, even if they’re grown organically – I’ll bet your conspiracy theory websites never told you that. What else might they be keeping secret?
    To remove one of those chemicals (caffeine – an organic chemical) they use the stuff that makes fizzy water fizz – carbon dioxide. But carbon dioxide isn’t organic. So you’re replacing an organic chemical with an inorganic chemical.

  3. Of course it’s full of chemicals. Every material thing that exists past the atomic level is made of chemicals, as is your entire body and every bite of food you eat or liquid that you drink. Pure water is made up of the chemicals hydrogen and oxygen. Did you perhaps mean something else, like additives?

  4. There’s a chemically intensive process, which goes under the innocuous sounding name of “Swiss water process,” that flushes the beans with the deadly chemical dihydrogen monoxide (DHMO).
    You can read all about this substance, which fills our water and food supply, here .

  5. Coffee is decaffeinated by a process called “supercritical fluid extraction.” Liquid carbon dioxide (same gas plants breathe in and you breathe out) is used as a solvent on the green beans to pull out the caffeine. Before SCFE, they used methylene chloride or other organic solvents, and those left a residue, so the SFCE method is cleaner as CO2 is a gas found in our own bodies.
    There is another method in use, the Swiss Water Process. Hot water is used to decaffeinate some beans and that water is reused on more beans to allow the extracted oils (essential oil flavors) to saturate the new beans being decaffeinated.

    Victor Allen’s

  6. It should not bother you that they decaffienate with chemicals. Every molecule is a chemical. Oxygen is a chemical you are a chemical. Chemicals are not always harmful. Your question suggests a negative towards chemical thats why i said this. Click the link below to know four ways to decaffienate. Decaffeination 101: Four Ways to Decaffeinate Coffee

  7. Many botanical extracts are collected from plant material using strong organic solvents with low boiling points like ethyl acetate, ethyl ether, hexanes, etc., (because like dissolves like). The compounds extracted are the compounds of interest, or desired products. The plant material is then discarded as waste in many cases following extraction. The liquid solvent containing the extracted compound(s) is distilled and vacuum aspirated, the solvents evaporate off, leaving behind the extract as a solid or liquid
    Decaffeination is extraction but the compound extracted is caffeine and in the case of coffee, it’s the the remaining plant material that is the desired product, not a particular compound that is undesirable for decaffeinated coffee.
    Coffee is loaded with antioxidants that have been demonstrated to decrease the possible risk of acquiring type II (adult-onset) diabetes. The studies that showed this correlated benefit noted no difference between subjects who drank caffeinated coffee from those who drank decaffeinated coffee. So there may be benefits for people who don’t usually drink coffee or people who don’t like the effects of caffeine or don’t want to be chemically dependent on caffeine (addiction with predictable withdrawal symptoms, e.g., headaches, lethargy, irritability, etc.).
    Instead of using a non-selective solvent chromatography that would also remove numerous other compounds that contribute flavor and nutrients, very cold and highly compressed (liquid) carbon dioxide is used for decaffeination or caffeine extraction.
    Solvents could be used and likely were used in the early days of decaf and so the que…

  8. Coffee is decaffeinated by soaking the beans in liquid carbon dioxide. Caffeine is soluble in carbon dioxide. When the carbon dioxide evaporates, the caffeine can be recovered and sold for use in “energy” drinks, medicine, or caffeine pills.
    As to your second question, yes, it’s all chemicals.

  9. There are many different processes which can be used to decaffeinated coffee and tea. The degree to which these processes leave chemical residues in the tea leaf or coffee beans varies depending on which process is used. Some of the common ones include:
    Carbon Dioxide – This process uses compressed CO2 gas. It is safe (leaving no residues) and relatively good at preserving flavor, but is expensive.
    Ethyl Acetate – This process uses ethyl acetate, a natural compound. It is inexpensive, but poor at preserving flavor relative to CO2. It leaves residues of ethyl acetate, but this chemical is safe (and even naturally occrs in tea leaf!)
    Methylene Chloride or Dichloromethane – This process uses a different chemical, called methylene chloride or dichloromethane. This chemical is toxic and carcinogenic, and there are health concerns with its use, but in the U.S. it is still legal (but regulated.)
    Swiss Water Process – This process uses water and thus leaves no residue; however, it is only used for coffee, not for tea, and it may not be possible to generalize it to tea because it relies on extracting the caffeine pre-roast, and then roasting the coffee to remove the excess water. Although some tea is roasted, most tea is not, and the use of water during processing would probably result in significant changes in the flavor and composition of the tea leaf.
    Other Processes – In the past, Benzene (a very toxic and dangerous substance) was used to decaffeinate coffee. This chemical was replaced with Trichloroethylene, which was later found also to be unsafe (although considerably less so.)
    On RateTea we maintain an article about decaffeinated tea and decaffeination processes , which you can check to find citations or to read about this in more depth; that article mainly deals with tea though and only mentions coffee in passing.
    But in summary, a short answer: it depends. Some historical processes have been very unsafe, such as the one involving Benzene; thankfully these are no-longer used. The only process still in widespread use that may possibly be unsafe is methylene chloride, but most processes, including CO2, water, or Ethyl Acetate, are completely safe. Ethyl acetate is the only one of these processes that leaves any residue, but it is a safe chemical and is left at levels comparable to those that naturally occur in a variety of foods.

  10. How do they decaffeinate coffee or tea? Do they fill it full of chemicals?
    Easiest way to answer this is to point you at Decaffeination 101: Four Ways to Decaffeinate Coffee which does a pretty good job of describing how decaffeination is carried out and the reasons why it is carried out in this way.
    I used to work for a firm which decaffeinated coffee but unfortunately in a different plant to the one I worked in so I can’t give any personal insights.

    Eight O’Clock


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