The benefits of caffeine in coffee are well known, but it’s possible to have too much caffeine when you’re keen on the strong stuff. Some people even have allergy-like symptoms in reaction to caffeine. So, it’s only right that you buy decaffeinated coffee for bean-to-cup machines in the workplace and espresso machines in coffee shops and restaurants.
The recommended daily limit for caffeine is around 400mg – although pregnant and breastfeeding women should aim for no more than 200mg and people with heart conditions should probably keep it as low as possible. You’ll pass that 400mg limit after around 4 cups of coffee – and fewer if you’re drinking particularly strong coffee in large servings.
Too much caffeine can make you jittery, affect your concentration adversely and has even been associated with anxiety and depression. The usefulness of the early morning coffee pick-me-up is turned on its head if you drink too much coffee later in the day, where it affects some people’s sleep patterns.
With that in mind, it’s no surprise that a decent decaf coffee will prove popular with punters and people you work with alike.
Decaffeinated coffee is made by removing the caffeine from coffee beans before the roasting process. There are three ways of doing this: using water, using CO2, or using one of two organic solvents (ethyl acetate or dichloromethane).
Not all methods are as effective as each other – small amounts of caffeine may remain. They are, however, safe for human consumption. Water alone removes more of the proteins, along with the caffeine. Dichloromethane (also known as methylene chloride) does leave tiny traces of the substance in the coffee – but since it evaporates at just over 100°F and coffee beans are then roasted at 400°F or more, before later being brewed at 200°F, you’ve nothing to worry about. Ethyl acetate exists naturally (a word you’ll sometimes see on coffee decaffeinated in this way) in certain fruits as they ripen. CO2 is the most recently developed method, and is more often used on mass-produced coffee.
The difference you might notice between the methods is the flavour. Each process affects the other constituent parts of the coffee. Ultimately, choosing the best decaffeinated coffee for your business is going to come down to a taste test. As a general note, it’s worth dodging darker or oilier decaf if you want to appeal to as many decaf drinkers as possible. It’s also well worth taking the time to get it right – because a good coffee is good for business.