Is There Coffee Without Caffeine?

The instant answer to that question is “no”.

For many people, their first cup of coffee is the joy of the day unless, of course, they become “coffee addicts”. And that is a definite possibility. The average 12-ounce cup of regular coffee contains about 70 to 180mg of caffeine.

By comparison, the same amount of decaffeinated coffee contains only up to 7mg of caffeine. That content depends mainly on the bean and the decaffeination process used to extract the caffeine. Decaffeination is typically accomplished by one of three methods, using either water, organic solvents or carbon dioxide to draw out the caffeine.

In all methods it is actually the unroasted green coffee beans which are soaked until the caffeine is dissolved or extracted through the opened pores of the beans.

In the “old days” I worked for a well-known British Tea Company (J.Lyons, “the Corner House People”). One of my mentors was their Tea and Coffee Taster Hamish Watters. He was a Welshman, who kept complaining that the Canadians at that time were barbaric in adding milk to their tea and coffee. He felt it destroyed the fine taste of the drink.

Apparently, many Canadians have hung on to this barbaric habit and still pour milk into their tea. As for coffee, even the Britons were known to add a little milk to their coffee, but never ever cream. It was said that milk was used to mask the fact that tea or coffee was stale.

History is divided as to who first added milk to coffee. On one side it was supposed to have been the Dutch Ambassador to China Nieuhoff in 1660, modifying the Manchu Dynasty tradition of adding milk to tea. On the other hand it was accepted in Europe after the Polish-German Café Owner Jerzy Franciszek served it first in his Café in 1684.

The Italians started serving strong Cappuccino (with or without milk). It was named in the 1,600’s after the brown colour of the robes worn by the monks and nuns of the Cappuchin Order.

Hamish, the Welshman, was also the coffee roaster of the company. I and helped him a few times, because I liked the smell, but not the taste, of roasted coffee. It was the only process Lyons had to do to sell their coffee, because Canadians would not buy green coffee beans as some of them do today.

Hamish  had no objections of pouring milk into coffee. But never sugar, which he considered as another backward Canadian habit, and which continues even today under special code words like “double-double”. But let’s return to the coffee processing.

In the solvent-based process, a combination of methylene chloride, ethyl acetate and water create the solvent that extracts the caffeine. None of the chemicals are apparently retained in the coffee.

The Swiss water process uses Osmosis as the only organic method, guaranteed to produce a 99.9% decaffeinated product.

The carbon dioxide process uses the carbon dioxide naturally found in coffee as a gas to remove it. It leaves other flavour compounds intact. It is the most expensive method of processing.

The decaffeination process, regardless of the method, alters the smell and taste of the coffee, giving it a comparatively milder flavour and different colour.

Although low, as little as 7mg of caffeine as found in decaffeinated coffee, may be a problem with people who suffer from kidney disease, anxiety disorders or sensitivity to caffeine.

Coffee is a beloved beverage known for its ability to fine-tune your focus and boost your energy levels as you wake up and start your day on the right foot.

In addition to its energizing effects, coffee has been linked to a long list of potential health benefits, giving you all the more reason to get brewing to your own taste.

Other research suggests that consuming coffee regularly could be associated with a decreased risk of developing type 2 diabetes over the long term. Coffee is rich in antioxidants and may affect insulin sensitivity, inflammation, and metabolism, all of which are involved in the development of type 2 diabetes over a long term.

Studies with up to 29,000 people came up with mixed results suggesting that moderate coffee consumption coffee may help protect against certain neurodegenerative disorders. These include Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, as well as cognitive diseases such as dementia, amnesia and delirium.(Source: Archives of Medical Science: PubMedCentral).

Those are, of course, a lot of “ifs” and study percentages, which gives you the choice to try them out yourself or to leave them, and that is one free choice of  which no one can ever relieve us!

Written by

Peter Iden is a resident of Wasaga Beach and a Naturalist and Photographer who has a broad range of knowledge of the natural world. Peter is also a volunteer Warden for the Piping Plover Recovery Programme with the Friends of Nancy Island.


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