If you think all decaf coffee is lacking in flavour and full of chemicals, think again. A number of coffee companies have decided to take their decaf very seriously, using top-quality beans and production processes to ensure that decaf drinkers can enjoy a safe and delicious brew.
Although much of the decaf coffee on the market is made using chemical solvents like methylene chloride to extract the caffeine from the coffee beans, which can leave behind a chemical residue, there are brands employing more modern, 'natural' decaffeination processes, namely the
Swiss Water process and the carbon dioxide (CO2) method.
The Swiss Water process involves soaking unroasted coffee beans in water and then introducing green coffee extract to pull out the caffeine via osmosis, while the CO2 method uses liquid CO2—the gas used in sparkling water, but under very high pressure—to selectively remove the caffeine from the beans.
We've tracked down five great-tasting decaf coffees that use one of these processes (rather than the chemical solvent method), only premium-quality Arabica beans, and are 100 per cent organic and Fairtrade to boot. So if you love the taste of coffee but want to avoid the caffeine, give them a try.
But don't forget that decaf coffee isn't completely caffeine free .
Organic Seasonal Decaf Ground Coffee, £5.25 (227 g)
www.grumpymule.co.uk; tel: 01484 855 500
A Great Taste award-winner, this medium-strength ground coffee is decaffeinated using the Swiss water process, and certified organic and Fairtrade. It's sourced from different growing regions depending on the season but, according to the company, always has a "chocolate and caramel sweetness, crisp fruit acidity and clean finish."
Fairtrade Organic Swiss Water Decaffeinated Ground Coffee,
£5.25 (227 g)
www.realfoods.co.uk; tel: 0131 556 1772
This coffee—decaffeinated using the Swiss water method—comes from a range of co-operatives across Latin America and the Far East, but is roasted and ground in the UK. It's 100 per cent organic, vegan and Fairtrade, and described as having a sweet and rounded flavour with a deep aroma. Suma also does a whole-bean version, available to buy as 1-kg bags.
Classics Organic Roast Decaffeinated Instant Coffee, £4.35 (100 g)
www.ethicalsuperstore.com; tel: 0333 400 0464
One of the few organic decaf coffees you can find in supermarkets like Sainsbury's and Waitrose, this freeze-dried instant coffee is made from organic (certified by the Soil Association) and Fairtrade Latin American and African Arabica beans, and decaffeinated using the CO2 method. The flavour is smooth and full-bodied with a strength rating of three out of five.
Fairtrade Organic Instant Freeze Dried Decaf Coffee, £4.75 (100 g)
www.clipper-teas.com; tel: 0345 602 1519
Clipper makes two freeze-dried instant decaf coffees, both using the CO2 method and both certified organic and Fairtrade. This one is a "toasty and intense" blend with a rich, smooth flavour that's almost indistinguishable from the caffeinated version. If you're lucky, you may find it stocked in your local supermarket.
Around the world
The Natural Coffee Co.
Swiss Water Decaffeinated Coffee, £5.75 (250 g)
www.smithscoffee.co.uk; tel: 01442 234 239
Available as whole roasted beans or in a variety of different grind types (from extra fine for Turkish coffee to coarse for percolators), this coffee is Fairtrade, kosher and certified organic by the Soil Association. The beans are grown in Indonesia, decaffeinated in Canada (via the Swiss Water process) and roasted and packed in the UK to give customers a medium-strength coffee that's full of flavour.