Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Don't mess with my coffee

OK I like coffee, before everyone wants to tell me how bad it is I am just going to say. It is a tradition in our family. My Grandma was from the Ozark mountains from a family of 16, she told me they drank coffee every since she could remember. My Grandma then married and moved back and forth from Arkansas to Oregon following the farming crops. They had 10 kids my Mom being the youngest. My Mom remembers having a biscuit in a cup of coffee when she was as young as 5 years old before they went out to the fields to work. Before you want to start a rant about the health ramifications, my Grandma lived to be 97, raised 10 kids and worked a farming lifestyle her entire life, was healthy right up to the end. My family tends to have low blood pressure, me included, so that first cup is great to start the morning off with. I love my herbal teas, don't get me wrong, but that one cup of coffee is a must for me. OK, time to get to the point. Decaff, one more reason to just drink regular coffee, have you ever wondered how it is made? What happens when you take the constituents out of the coffee bean? What about the health benefits, if any? Well it turns out there has been studies showing benefits of regular coffee, but decaf- that's another story as explained below.

Two Types of Decaf Processes

There are two types of decaffeination processes. The first is called the Swiss Water Process method. Decaf coffee made with this method can be found at most gourmet coffee shops, organic food grocery stores. The other decaffeination processes use some sort of a chemical solvent. There is also a specific variation of the chemical process termed the Super Critical Carbon Dioxide method.

In all of the decaffeination processes, the green coffee beans begin the journey by being steamed and/or soaked in water. This makes the caffeine soluble and primed for extraction.

The Swiss Water Process Method

The Swiss Water Process is popular among its advocates because it does not use chemicals. Instead, a green coffee extract is used. This green coffee extract is almost caffeine-free. Due to chemical solubility laws, the caffeine will move from an area of higher concentration (the bean itself) to an area of lower concentration (the extract). Since the extract contains essential oils and the other valuable components of the bean, mostly caffeine seeks its way into the extract and leaves behind the desirable components of the coffee. Done properly, this organic method successfully removes 94 - 96% of the caffeine while it retains more of the flavor compounds present in the essential oils than the chemical methods. Keep in mind that Swiss Water Process coffee beans are generally more expensive than beans treated with a chemical solvent. This is due to the fact that Swiss Water Processing almost always accompanies high-quality arabica beans, while chemical processes are used on both arabica and robusta beans.

The Chemical Solvent Method

The chemical solvent method is the most commonly used method for removing the caffeine from coffee. Chemical methods remove the caffeine better than the Swiss Water Process method because the solvents used can target caffeine most evenly and effectively. Common solvents include methylene chloride, ethyl acetate, and highly pressurized carbon dioxide. After the green beans are moistened they are then immersed in the solvent. After the solvent performs its action, the beans are rinsed with water. After the beans have been rinsed, they are steamed. Residual solvents evaporate in the steam. The rinsing and evaporation systems collect the solvent for recycling and re-use. Any remaining solvent will be burned off in the roasting process. The chemical caffeine method will remove 96 - 98% of caffeine.

The Supercritical Carbon Dioxide Method

The Supercritical Carbon Dioxide method is a chemical method that is somewhat dissimilar to the other chemical methods; therefore it deserves special attention. This method uses carbon dioxide at 250 - 300 times normal atmospheric pressure. Carbon dioxide in this form looks like a liquid in terms of its density, but it has the viscosity of a gas. It is a very effective solvent at the high pressures. When the coffee beans are exposed to the solvent, the caffeine migrates to the solvent. When the removal of caffeine is complete, the now caffeine-rich carbon dioxide is passed through either an activated charcoal bed or a bath of water to absorb the caffeine for re-use. Like other chemical methods, the Supercritical Carbon Dioxide method removes 96 - 98% of the caffeine. From www.ineedcoffee.com

Sounds Yummy! Ya right
The tannins are what give the coffee it's distinctive taste, and the bitterness is all part of the experience. If your going to drink decaf, you are not really drinking coffee at all in my opinion, why bother?

Coffee and Cholesterol
Decaffeinated coffee may raise the risk of cardiovascular disease more than regular coffee does, Atlanta investigators claim at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2005. Dr. H. Robert Superko, and colleagues at the Fuqua Heart Center and the Piedmont-Mercer Center for Health and Learning, analyzed the effects of caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee consumption on cardiovascular risk factors in 187 subjects enrolled in a clinical trial known as the Coffee and Lipoprotein Metabolism Study. The subjects were randomly assigned to one of three groups: noncoffee drinkers, coffee drinkers and decaf drinkers, who drank three to six cups a day for two months. At the end of the study period, no significant differences were found in fasting glucose or insulin (measures used to diagnosis diabetes), total cholesterol, HDL2 (the very good cholesterol) or triglycerides among the three groups. However, decaf coffee increased free fatty acid levels, which in turn led to an increase in apolipoprotein B, which is associated with LDL cholesterol. On the other hand, caffeinated coffee but not decaf, increased blood pressure. Subjects in the study drank between three and six cups a day. resource: www.raysahelian.com

Don't mess with my coffee!