Swiss Water Process decaffeination

The Swiss Water® Decaffeination Process

Decaf coffee can be chemical-free and still taste great
Posted on January 8th 2014 by Maddie

I had never drunk decaf coffee until this Monday. I felt I needed to have at least one cup to make this entry legit, so I gave it a go.  I had some preconceived notions. Decaf wasn’t for me; it was for the weak. I apologize now for this hasty judgement as I actually really enjoyed our Decaf and was almost fooled. Truth be told if I hadn’t prepared my own cup I’m not sure I would have noticed.

This is since Kicking Horse® Coffee uses the Swiss Water® Decaffeination Process. Aroma, body and flavour don’t have to be compromised when drinking decaf. All of which I discovered Monday.

The decaf that we unfortunately all seem to be familiar with is the common chemical decaffeination process, giving decafs everywhere a bad name. This method tends to rip all the taste right out of the bean. Our way of decaffeination, using the Swiss Water® Process, rinses caffeine out of beans gently so you still enjoy full body and flavour without nasty solvents. 

It is strange that so many convert to decaf for health reasons, but don’t even think twice that their beans may be covered in chemicals. But, your health doesn’t have to be compromised. Decaf can be chemical-free and still taste great.

How does the Swiss Water® Decaffeination Process work?

Most importantly it starts with quality green beans. Kicking Horse® Coffee sources all our green beans. We remain committed to only buying and selling 100% Certified Organic and 100% Certified Fairtrade coffee.  Decaf is no different. 

This makes a huge impact on producing great decaf, because really what you put in is what you get out. 

Mike Strumpf of Swiss Water® explains,

"In our process, a decaffeinated coffee should taste like the original green coffee and nothing else. After each decaffeination run we sample roasts and cup the before and after decaffeination samples side by side, focusing primarily on any differences in cup qualities between the two. This clarity means that an exceptional coffee will make an exceptional decaffeinated coffee, and that is what most of us are looking for."

Upon arrival in Vancouver, a portion of our green beans travel to the Swiss Water® facility in Burnaby before being sent further inland to our home-base in Invermere, British Columbia.

The Swiss Water® Process extracts the caffeine by using a Green Coffee Extract (GCE); flavoured water devoid of caffeine which is created in-house.

Our green beans begin a pre-soak with water found in the coastal mountains of British Columbia. During this period, the green coffee beans expand by 100% preparing them for caffeine extraction. 

Basically, then the GCE is used in a counter-current extraction process. GCE is water saturated with soluble coffee compounds, minus the caffeine of course. The time, temperature and flow are controlled to optimize the driving force which removes caffeine from the green bean and back into the GCE. 

The coffee is then dried using an evaporative drying process whereby the moisture in the coffee is converted to vapour and removed through the air exhaust stream. 

This entire decaffeination process takes approximately ten hours. 

For further explanation, since I likely glossed over some of the finer details, watch this awesome informative video made by the folks at Swiss Water® explaining the entire process.


Brilliant, eh? Who even came up with this?

The Swiss of course! The Swiss Water® Decaffeination Process was pioneered in Schaffhausen Switzerland.

In Canada the decaf standard is 99.9% caffeine free. Each batch of green beans decaffeinated by Swiss Water® has a Certificate of Analysis ensuring this standard.

Great decaf doesn’t have to be an oxymoron. Kicking Horse® Coffee’s Decaf meets the same high standard we have for all our coffee blends. The Swiss Water® Process preserves the distinctive origin and flavour characteristics of our green beans to produce a great tasting decaf.  

Refiguring the world of decaf coffee, what’s next?

Photo credit: Swiss Water®