Decaffeinated coffee is one of the most suitable coffee alternatives for those suffering from hypertension, insomnia, or gastrointestinal disorders. In Italy, the consumption of this beverage is around 7% of the total coffee intake and the most popular brand is Hag, which was launched on the market in the early 1900s.
It is a beverage obtained from beans deprived of their natural caffeine content, through the use of chemical solvents or the carbon dioxide method. In reality, the caffeine is not totally removed, but the residue reaches a maximum of 0.1 %, which is the maximum amount set by the European Commission.
Until a few years ago, decaffeinated coffee was not up to the standard of regular coffee but was simply a stopgap with a less intense taste. The problem, however, was not related to the quality of the extraction or the beans, but to the production process. In fact, the beans were processed in the same way as normal coffee, without there being proper standards for grinding and dosing decaffeinated coffee. Today, the situation has totally changed. Decaffeinated coffee beans are processed with a special system and the quality of the extract can reach the levels of normal coffee.
For our part, we at Pontevecchio have always invested in the extraction process, and our production of lever coffee machines proves this. Every part of the machine is designed to optimise the extraction process and enhance the organoleptic properties of the beans, even the decaffeinated ones.
But let’s find out more about decaffeinated coffee.
Decaffeinated coffee: its origin and properties
Decaffeinated coffee is coffee without caffeine, the key alkaloid contained in coffee beans. Its discovery dates to the early 20th century, to 1905 to be exact, when Ludwig Roselius succeeded in extracting caffeine from coffee beans.
The discovery of caffeine-free coffee was certainly no accident, but the research was specially commissioned by the German company Kaffee Handels Aktiengesellschaft based in Bremen. This name probably doesn’t ring a bell, but the brand under which the new beverage was marketed in 1905 certainly does: we are talking about HAG coffee, still considered the decaffeinated coffee par excellence today.
Caffeine is extracted through a process called decaffeination, which affects the chemical and physical properties of the beans. There are several methods of extracting caffeine, but the most successful is the supercritical carbon dioxide method: that is, the green coffee beans are moistened with hot water and then passed through supercritical carbon dioxide extractors. Afterwards, the beans are cooled and depressurised in a special plant, or with the use of activated carbon.
The next steps are the same as for normal coffee, i.e., the drying and roasting of the beans.
Decaffeination with supercritical CO2 is the most popular because it maintains the characteristics of the beans and does not affect the aromas. During the process, the terpenes and oils are preserved, so that the characteristic notes of the coffea plant remain intact.
Why drinking decaffeinated coffee
The taste of coffee is one of the pleasures that is hard to give up, but not everyone can tolerate the impact of caffeine on the body.
Although this alkaloid has energising and stimulating properties, it is not recommended for those suffering from diseases of the nervous system, gastrointestinal system, or cardiovascular system.
Caffeine can, in fact, excessively accelerate the heartbeat, with negative effects in cases of hypertension.
As a substance with energising properties, it may overexcite stressed or nervous individuals due to its effects on the nervous system.
While normal coffee facilitates digestion because it increases the production of stomach acids, it may be harmful to those suffering from gastritis. Moreover, it may also inhibit the normal function of the gastric mucosa, lowering its defence levels.
Coffee consumption, particularly in the evening hours, interferes with sleep. Therefore, if you have insomnia problems, decaffeinated coffee is preferable.
Decaffeinated coffee: benefits and differences
Is decaffeinated coffee bad for you? What impact does it have on the body? Is it preferable to the consumption of traditional espresso?
Despite the fact that it was discovered over a hundred years ago, doubts about decaffeinated coffee are still deep-rooted. In particular, the fear is related to the extraction processes and the use of harmful chemicals during decaffeination.
It must be said that extraction with supercritical carbon dioxide does not alter the composition of the beans at all and does not leave any kind of residue.
Solvent-based extraction, on the other hand, was the subject of enormous debate in the past. The offending compound was dichloromethane (or methylene chloride), a solvent with potential negative health effects. Currently, this compound has been banned from the food industry to make way for substances that are harmless to the body.
Apart from the caffeine extraction process, traditional coffee and decaffeinated coffee are very similar. For a start, they both undergo drying and roasting, which impart the right organoleptic characteristics to the coffee. Moreover, the preparation process is the same and those who are forced to eliminate caffeine, do not have to give up the pleasure of espresso
As opposed to traditional coffee, decaffeinated does not stimulate the nervous system, so it promotes rest and does not cause anxiety. It is suitable for low-calorie diets as it contains less oil than normal coffee. It stimulates digestion without adversely affecting the stomach and intestines.
Many scientific studies also demonstrate coffee’s positive impact on neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease. This is due to its rich content of antioxidant substances.
Finally, decaffeinated coffee seems to have an analgesic action against headaches.
As we have seen, decaffeination does not completely eliminate the diterpenes, while retaining their beneficial properties: they are antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, fight bacteria and fight cholesterol.
How to make an excellent decaffeinated coffee
Over the years, the coffee industry has evolved enormously, and decaffeination techniques have become more and more refined. Decaffeinated coffee has developed into an excellent alternative to traditional coffee and can be enjoyed by anyone.
Despite the extraction of caffeine, decaffeinated coffee has several things in common with espresso: cultivation, harvesting, origin, drying, roasting, extraction method and consumption. Clearly, each of these steps must be taken care of carefully so as not to lose the rituality associated with coffee consumption.
We at Pontevecchio have always been involved in the production of lever espresso machines, dedicating all our experience to every aspect of coffee extraction. Our lever espresso machine models are suitable for the preparation of both traditional espresso and decaffeinated coffee. Each machine is designed to bring out the aroma of coffee and all the rituality of the gestures necessary for its preparation.
Go to our online coffee machine catalogue and find the right model for you.