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Swiss Water Decaf [The Science Behind the Art]

Caffeine is a natural substance we can find in various plants worldwide, including, of course, coffee. So how can we safely remove the caffeine from the beans and still have quality coffee that tastes amazing and is 100% chemical-free?

Cue Swiss Water Decaf – a scientifically proven process that naturally removes caffeine while retaining most of the bean’s original flavor.

Let’s dive into how the Swiss Water Process works and how you can best enjoy decaffeinated coffee. If you’re a health nut, caffeine-sensitive, or need to cut back your copious caffeine levels, we’ve got you.

Everyone should enjoy good coffee – to stimulate the brain and body first thing in the morning, comfort the soul before drifting off to dreamland, or anything in between.

On Deck (Table of Contents)

The Truth About Caffeine

Did you know that caffeine is a natural substance found in more than 60 plants? Some common ones are tea leaves, coffee beans, cacao pods (for chocolate products), yerba maté, and kola nuts (for soft drinks).

On average, an 8-ounce cup of coffee contains anywhere from 95 to 200 milligrams (mg) of caffeine, depending on the origin of the bean. Caffeine impacts the body’s metabolism by stimulating the central nervous system. It blocks adenosine receptors in the brain, reducing drowsiness, facilitating nerve cell stimulation, releasing adrenaline, and increasing dopamine levels.

Because caffeine stimulates your nervous system and increases blood pressure, it can lead to various side effects for some people, including:

  • Headaches
  • Restlessness
  • Shakiness
  • Anxiety
  • Dehydration
  • Insomnia
  • Dizziness
  • Dependency

If you’re sensitive to caffeine, pregnant, taking medication, experiencing unwelcome side effects, or simply want to increase your health overall, cutting back your caffeine levels can be a smart move. That’s where decaf coffee comes in.

While decaf coffee isn’t “caffeine-free” per se, it has very low levels. Coffee must have at least 97% of the caffeine removed to be considered decaf. The decaffeination process occurs when the beans are raw and green (before any roasting occurs).

Where did Swiss Water Decaf come from?

There are various methods for removing caffeine from coffee beans. While some involve using chemicals, the Swiss Water Process is 100% chemical-free and certified organic.

The Swiss Water technique originated in Switzerland in the early 1930s. In 1980, it was commercialized, then in 1988, it made its way to Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, where the Swiss Water Company was established. It prides itself on producing high-quality, tasteful decaf coffee you can trust and enjoy.

Here are some of the certifications they’ve deservedly earned:

  • OCIA Certified Organic
  • Rainforest Alliance Certified
  • Fairtrade Certified
  • UTZ Certified
  • U.S. Food & Drug Administration
  • Foundation Food Safety System Certification
  • 4C Certified
  • Kosher Certified
  • Halal Certified

How is Swiss Water Decaf created?

How can coffee become decaffeinated? And how can Swiss Water Company remove the caffeine using a 100% natural process?

To start, green beans from around the world arrive at the facility in Canada. Working in small batches, the facility uses three main ingredients to remove caffeine from the beans: water, temperature, and time. For 10 hours, workers carefully monitor the process.

Here’s an overview of what that process looks like:

  1. Green Coffee Extract (GCE) is created. The beans are soaked in pure water to make GCE. This solution contains all the soluble solids within coffee other than the caffeine. Read the next section to learn how this solution is created.
  2. The clean and pre-soak phase begins. To prepare the beans for the Swiss Water Process, the beans are rehydrated to a specific moisture level ideal for caffeine removal. Beans are also cleaned to remove dust, dirt, and silverskin.
  3. The caffeine is removed. GCE continuously circulates around the green coffee beans for 8-10 hours to gently remove caffeine until levels reach 0.1% or less. The caffeine is then removed from the GCE using a proprietary carbon filter system.
  4. The GCE is refreshed. GCE is renewed so it can be reused in new batches of green coffee.
  5. Swiss Water Decaf beans are ready to roll. Once the process is complete, the beans are dried, bagged, and prepared to ship to customers.


How does Swiss Water Decaf retain its flavor and bean quality?

The Swiss Water Process is unique in that it doesn’t add chemicals to the beans to remove the caffeine. It also retains most of the flavors of the original beans.

When the first batch of beans soak in pure water, the flavors and caffeine are extracted. The caffeine is then removed from the flavored water. This water solution (called Green Coffee Extract) is now prepped to work its magic on new beans.

The Green Coffee Extract is added to a small batch of new beans to remove only the caffeine (and leave the flavors) using osmosis. Since the beans are already saturated in flavor, only caffeine is pulled out of the bean and into the water.

The water is then drained, and the caffeine is removed from the solution so the GCE can be reused in future batches. What do you have left? Decaffeinated beans with flavors intact.

Is Swiss Water Decaf healthy?

Swiss Water Decaf is often considered the “healthiest” decaf coffee option. It’s natural, organic, and chemical-free. It also has many of the rich antioxidants of regular coffee.

On the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) scale, coffee scores 2,780 per every 100 grams. That means it’s very high in antioxidants – even higher than the superfood kale (at 1,770 per 100 grams). Swiss Water Decaf has polyphenols that help your body fight against damage caused by radiation, ultraviolet rays, and some pathogens. This can help lower the risk for illnesses like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

How much caffeine does SWP decaf have?

Swiss Water Decaf is 99.9% caffeine-free (some decaf is only 97%). Compared to a regular cup of joe that contains around 100 mg of caffeine on average for every 8 ounces of coffee, SWP decaf contains only about 2 mg of caffeine.

How can I find the best Swiss Water Decaf?

Make sure your “Swiss Water Decaf” is legitimate, and your coffee is as healthy as can be. Here are some things to look for:

  • Swiss Water Process label: You’ll see the official logo or a stamp that says outright that the brand used the SWP.
  • Light or medium roast: To maximize antioxidant levels in your coffee, opt for a roast that is either medium or light. Antioxidants are reduced in coffee beans roasted darker.
  • Organic: While the Swiss Water Process is organic, it doesn’t mean your beans are! Look for beans grown organically to avoid harmful chemicals.
  • Avoid mold: Choose clean, quality coffees to avoid mycotoxins – dangerous compounds produced by mold – that may lead to neurotoxicity. Mold can grow when coffee beans aren’t dried and processed properly using quality equipment. Look for high-quality, sustainably sourced, and rigorously processed and tested coffee that shows no trace of mycotoxins or mold.

Buy Swiss Water Decaf at Fathom Coffee

Fathom Coffee sells various decaf coffees, including Swiss Water Decaf. Our Flores Komodo Dragon Organic SWP Decaf is a heavy-bodied roast with notes of ginger, coriander, and molasses. Our Kenya SWP Decaf is a blend of AA and AB beans. We also have Decaf Ethiopia Fair Trade Certified Organic Sidamo, which boasts unique flavors and tastes just like its caffeinated counterpart.

Each of these coffees retains robust flavors, despite being decaffeinated. We don’t believe you should sacrifice taste or quality – no matter how much caffeine is in your cup.

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