One Village Coffee has been offering water process decaffeinated coffee from Descamex for the last several years. We’re proud of our Nightingale decaf because it’s just as delicious as its caffeinated counterparts. You might wonder how a decaf coffee could be organic, as the traditional method of decaffeination is a chemical process. Our decaf is decaffeinated through the Mountain Water Process which does not use any chemicals. This not only makes for a more delicious cup of coffee but is also better for the environment.
The way the water processing method works is that the green, caffeinated coffee is soaked in warm water for several hours. This removes both the caffeine and all the other solubles in the coffee (including the flavor compounds that make it taste like coffee!). The water is removed from the green coffee and goes through a special filter which removes only the caffeine. Think of it as a molecular strainer. The remaining solution, which is now 99.9% caffeine free but still retains the coffee flavors, is then reintroduced to the green coffee which reabsorbs the flavors. It’s then dried again and the process is complete. On the whole, this process takes about 10 hours.
This process is different from conventional decaffeination processes because in those processes, Ethyl Acetate (a natural solvent) or Methylene Chloride is added to the coffee to remove the caffeine. There is another process called the indirect method, which starts out the same way that the water process does with only warm water and green coffee, but then chemical solvents are added to the liquid solution to remove the caffeine. (Thanks to Cafe Imports, Descamex, and Royal Coffee for providing this information).
The water process shows us that chemical solvents are not necessary to decaffeinate coffee. What we’re left with is a product as delicious as it was before the decaffeination process started. In our current Nightingale, which is from the COMSA Co-op in Honduras, you can expect notes of chocolate and baking spices with wisps of dried fruit and citrus. Thanks to the Mountain Water Process, we can enjoy a cup of coffee after dinner just as enthusiastically as we would with breakfast.