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.