Last week we had the opportunity to tour the Swiss Water Decaf plant where our Crescent Beach Decaf (organic peru) gets decaffeinated in Burnaby. The SWISS WATER Process is a taste-driven, 100% chemical free, decaffeination process that delivers to today's consumer expectations. Using water from the coast mountains of British Columbia and proprietary caffeine-specific carbon re-generation technology, SWISS WATER Process leaves the beans 99.9% caffeine free while maintaining the unique origin flavour, body and aroma characteristics.
Our tour began in their cool boardroom with this animated video overview of the science behind their decaffeination process:
One surprising thing we learned was that they do not extract the caffeine in a manner that allows them to salvage it for resale. The caffeine is extracted using carbon material that once concentrated, undergoes extreme temperatures in order to re-generate the carbon, resulting in the caffeine being disintegrated. It is the chemical method of extraction, which isn't a practice at Swiss Water Decaf that does allow for the resale of caffeine. Interesting.
We were then given a plant tour by Kurt, we managed to snap a pic of the green coffee awaiting decaffeination but no photography was permitted in the decaffeination area itself. The above video is a great animation of the goings on in the plant.
We were required to wear lab coats & hair nets perhaps so we felt like chemists, nerdy ones ;)
We completed our tour with some time in the coffee lab tasting the difference between the coffees prior to decaffeination and after decaffeination, the team at Swiss Water Decaf have made great progress in the closing the gap in differentials in taste. The ultimate goal, which they feel they've reached (we agree) is that there would be no difference in the quality of taste. Great tasting coffee without the caffeine!