Decaf and Organic does Not mean Caffeine Free Always.

Almost every time I visit the store to buy my Swiss Water Processed Coffee Beans, I am always asked by customers- why am I buying that, what is it exactly, is there a difference, and does it taste good?

After my explanation, I am always met with a disgruntled employee who seems to know better and give the standard “it’s organic and therefore 0 caffeine”….wrong answer.

The reason I am so adamant about this is because of how crucial this was in assisting with combating the side effects of coming off prescriptive medications. Caffeine is a stimulant and can be harmful to our health, not to mention addicting.

It can increase anxiety issues, high blood pressure, heart arrhythmia, medication interactions, fatigue, heighten insomnia, and the infamous “I have the worse coffee headache ever”.

To be met by USDA standards to be accepted as decaf, coffee only needs to be 97% free. That means an average 12 ounces of “decaf” could legally be labeled so and contain 3- 18 mg of caffeine. Doesn’t sound like much, but if you have a true medical condition this can make an incredible difference.

In a Starbucks tall- you are going to get between 3-18mg of caffeine. In a good comparison, high energy drinks like Mountain Dew contain 55 mg, Jolt 71.2., Red Bull 80, and an average coffee between 140- 300 mg. This is not something to gloss over lightly, especially if you are caffeine sensitive. What astounded me was McDonalds stepped up to the plate and beat everyone hands down offering the McCafe which is not only organic, but Swiss Water Processed. Wow, maybe there is hope after all.

Interesting how Starbucks is rated one of, if not the worst on the decaf marketing label, yet still charges over $5.00 for a cup. But that is just it, we pay more, because we assume it’s better for us, and that it not always the reality, but a great marketing technique. You get what you pay for, but not in this case.

So how do I know for sure?


There are 4 ways caffeine is removed: Indirect Solvent, Direct-Solvent, Carbon Dioxide Process, and Swiss Water Process.

Direct and indirect solvent processes mean just that- anything that is a solvent and its uses in the decaf process are not considered a health risk. But what is CH3CO2C2H5 (Ethyl Acetate) ? Oh, that is the nature hormone in fruits right, like the bad apple ruins the bunch, so it’s gotta be organic.

Not in a commercial sense.

Since it is so impractical on a commercial level to obtain, Ethyl Acetic is created from Ethyl Alcohol and Acetic Acid, which may either be produced from natural ingredients or petroleum originations. Conclusion without going back to Chemistry 101, is that most likely because it will pass to save money as decaf, and there is a good likelihood it contains some sort of chemical/s. Better to be safe than sorry.

Methyl Chloride which is used in the direct process is listed as a possible carcinogen by the National Cancer Institute, but FDA considers up to 10 parts per million to be safe for us to consume. And since it has the least effect on taste, then drink up right. Not just yet.

Which leads me to Organic. Cool, I’ll just buy that and be safe. Well, you’re getting closer, but sorry, more homework to do.

The Carbon Dioxide Process is where all the assumptions and mad grocery workers get with me. It is a step in a much better direction, but again not 100% decaf.

In the CO2 process, green coffee beans are soaked in highly compressed CO2 at 73 to 300 atmospheres of pressure for about 10 hours, which extracts the caffeine from the beans. The pressure is then decreased and the CO2 either evaporates or activated carbon filters to get rid of the caffeine. The CO2 is then used again. This is much better, and I do not doubt the sincerity in the defenders of this method, but be warned that it only removes 95%-99% of caffeine, and if you drink a 12-ounce cup, that would leave you with 5 mg of stimulant.

But the issue I have with the CO2 process is that it strips other chemical compounds that coffee is known for that are beneficial to our health. Also, it does not have the robust taste that I like, being a. ” I’ll take it black” kinda gal.

So, the winner is: Swiss Water Process (SWP)! This is the ONLY for sure, chemical-free, water decaffeinated method that will ensure you 99% decaf, as well as the best flavor. It is that simple, it is water processed. The green coffee beans are repeatedly soaked in hot water and made to pass through a carbon filter (charcoal which is organic), and pulls the caffeine out of the raw beans, but does not harm the beneficial properties coffee may give. It also does not harm the flavor like the other methods.

The SWP does not use any chemicals because it relies entirely on solubility and osmosis, therefore organic, and 99% caffeine free due to repetitive times of soaking.

It may cost a bit more, but let’s contribute to the famers and helpers of this world for taking the time to do such a great job, and put our brains at ease on what we are drinking.

The benefits you will have outweigh the costs, so just cut back on renting movies or iTunes, go outside in Nature with a cup of real fine tasting decaf and enjoy making yet another positive decision in your physical and mental health. It took my body about a month to get fully adjusted to the change. That was over 2 years ago, and one of the best health decisions of my life.

And don’t get me going on decaf teas! Just take the intensity of this article and times it by 3, and be aware of what may be attributing to your health issues.

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