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The Need for Decaf Coffee
Coffee is a favourite of mine! And in my later years I have found that I am less able to drink coffee into the afternoon and evening without it affecting my sleep. It doesn’t keep me awake, so much as it wakes me up mid-night and keeps me awake for about an hour or so at 3 in the morning. Not a fan of that! And especially as we are caregiving for my folks right now. I really can’t afford to lose an hour of sleep to a cup of coffee. Enter decaf.
Not all Decaf Coffee is Equal
A few years back I decided to read up on Swiss Water Process Decaf. What was it and why was I starting to hear more about it? Was it just some fancy branding or marketing? Turns out, NO! In fact it is a process that removes caffeine from the coffee bean. But what’s the big deal about it being Swiss Water Process? Isn’t all decaf the same? No sir, it is not!
Swiss Water Process
I figured, who better to explain the Swiss Water Process, than the Swiss Water Decaffeinated Coffee Company people themselves! This YouTube video they produced gives a short-but-sweet explanation!
The Other Decaf Process
I don’t know what else to call it, but the “other decaf process”. It is the process that involves methylene chloride, ethyl acetate, and carbon dioxide. I am always a little leery of chemicals I can barely pronounce especially when I am ingesting them!
So what is methylene chloride?
A number of industrial processes use Methylene chloride or Dichloromethane (DCM) as a solvent. The US Department of Labour’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration describes it as:
a volatile, colorless liquid with a chloroform-like odor. Methylene chloride is used in various industrial processes in many different industries: paint stripping, pharmaceutical manufacturing, paint remover manufacturing, metal cleaning and degreasing, adhesives manufacturing and use, polyurethane foam production, film base manufacturing, polycarbonate resin production, and solvent distribution and formulation.
OSHA considers methylene chloride to be a potential occupational carcinogen. Short-term exposures to high concentrations may cause mental confusion, lightheadedness, nausea, vomiting, and headache. Continued exposure may also cause eye and respiratory tract irritation. Exposure to methylene chloride may make symptoms of angina more severe. Skin exposure to liquid methylene chloride may cause irritation or chemical burns.
Makes that cup of decaf coffee sound pretty risky, eh? The quantities we are exposed to in one cup of decaf is not anything near the high concentrations that they are referring to. However I don’t want to willingly expose myself to it!
How about ethyl acetate? What’s that?
Toxipedia describes ethyl acetate as follows:
Ethyl Acetate is used as a solvent for chemical reactions. Because of its odor it is often used in cosmetics and its smell is associated with nail polishes. Additionally, it is used in confectionery, perfumes, and fruits because it evaporates at a fast rate, leaving but the scent of the perfume on the skin. Ethyl acetate is an effective poison for use in insect collector as its vapors are a respiratory tract irritant whose vapors can kill the insect quickly without destroying it, leaving it intact for study.
Short-term exposure to high levels of ethyl acetate results first in irritation of the eyes, nose and throat, followed by headache, nausea, vomiting, sleepiness, and unconsciousness. Very high concentrations may cause a stupor, but it is relatively non-toxic. Prolonged exposures may cause clouding of the eye, damage to the lungs and heart and kidney and liver problems. Its carcinogenic properties are not known.
Again… yum! Sounds wonderful for my cup of coffee!
Swiss Water Decaf Coffee Brands
Knowing which decaf coffees use Swiss Water Process is helpful when you are looking to make a grocery store purchase or stop in to a coffee shop of your choice. Grace + I try to make wise food and health choices for ourselves, as well as for my folks. So, I’m putting together a list of coffee brands that have used the Swiss Water Process, as well as a list of Coffee Shops that serve Swiss Water Decaf Coffee! I’ll share it out soon! If I’ve missed your favourite, let me know! I’d love to hear about it and maybe even give it a try!