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Rainbow Decaf, Colombia


Look for tangerine, almond and milk chocolate when roasted for filter; Anticipate notes of marmalade, dark chocolate and baking spice when roasting for espresso

Size: 500g

Producer: Various small holders from Huila and Cauca

Varieties: Castillo, Caturra, Colombia

Process: Sugarcane Process Decaf

Elevation: 1600- 1850 masl



Decaffeinated coffee has a history of being eschewed by coffee connoisseurs, as decaf coffee has long been considered ‘less than good’. Sugar Cane process decaf, a lower impact and more ecologically sound process than chemical or intense washing processes of the past, turns that notion upside down.

Sugar cane is readily available in Colombia, as well as many other coffee producing nations. It makes economic and ecological sense to make use of this natural product to create tasty decaf.

Sugar cane processing, also commonly referred to as natural decaffeination, starts by fermenting sugar cane to create ethanol. This alcohol is then mixed with vinegar, to create the compound ethyl acetate. Once the coffee intended for decaffeination has been steamed to open up the pores, the ethyl acetate is sprayed onto the coffee. Ethyl acetate bonds with caffeine molecules and then the coffee is washed then steamed a second time to remove any traces of caffeine and ethyl acetate.

After washing and steaming and there being no caffeine detected, the coffee is then dried to 10% moisture content. Once dry, it is sealed with a thin layer of neutral aroma and flavoured natural wax. This is to keep the coffee from losing more moisture as it is more prone to drying out too much after the decaffeination process. Due to the open pores of this coffee you may find that the decaf may look visibly more oily than other coffees that you have roasted. This is normal and an effect of the open structure of the coffee beans themselves after decaffeination. Generally speaking, this coffee benefits from less development time.

Since this is a natural product, you may find that there are still trace amounts of caffeine present. There is at least 97% less caffeine than a standard coffee, but it is not 100% caffeine free.


The recipe for decaf coffee for filter, the recipe begins with a steep rise in temperature to 245˚C. This steep rise right at the beginning allows for the coffee to move through the drying phase quickly. There is a big dip, at 1 minute and 24 seconds, that allows for there to be a bit of a delay moving into sugar browning, and a bit more time to evenly dry the coffee before development begins. Yellowing at 1 minutes, 18 seconds and begin the colour change and development of sugars at 2 minutes and 30 seconds. First crack begins at 5 minutes. Right after the first crack begins, the temperature begins to decrease through the remainder of the roast. This is to keep from overdeveloping the coffee or creating roast defects, which are more likely due to the open structure of the decaffeinated coffee. The roast ends at 6 minutes and 10 seconds, with 1 minute and 10 seconds spent in the development phase. Expect flavours that may remind you of tangerine, almond and milk chocolate.

The espresso recipe begins with a less steep rise in temperature than the filter recipe. There is a more gradual increase in temperature through the drying phase. The coffee enters the colour change phase a bit sooner than the filter recipe, at 2 minutes, but this also allows for the first crack to occur a bit earlier on. First crack begins at 4 minutes and 35 seconds, and is a gradual and steady popping sound. The recipe ends at 6 minutes and 55 seconds , with 2 minutes and 20 seconds spent in the development phase. Anticipate flavours of marmalade, dark chocolate and baking spices with a velvety texture.