Nail polish remover and paint thinner in most decaf?

Decaffeinated, four methods to decaffeinate, Model Citizen, paint thinner and nail polish remover, Swiss Water and Mountain Water Wash -

Nail polish remover and paint thinner in most decaf?

Why bother?

There are many reasons why people drink decaf.  Some are for health reasons, some don’t want caffeine in their system, and some don’t want to be up all night.  Whatever the reason, Model Citizen wants to meet your needs with our Dessert Buddy (aka the Lisa). 

During a recent tasting at Fort Carson, it was interesting to note people’s reactions when tasting the Swiss Water Wash Peruvian decaf.  They were not told they were being served a decaf until after tasting it.  Many were surprised that it actually tasted like a regular cup of coffee (hey, we are coffee roasters that is our job) and not one sans caffeine. Oh fun fact SanCa coffee means Sans Caffeine – I digress – back to decaf.  


Now where the wide-eyed shocked expressions came into play was in the education of what a decaf coffee is. First off, decaf doesn’t grow on coffee trees (okay so there is one possible tree currently being cultivated that is 99.9% caffeine free, but that is an anomalous tree) and it isn't 100% caffeine free, more like 97%.  Caffeine has to be stripped from the coffee bean by one of four methods.  The natural method, indirect method, CO2 method, and the organic Swiss Water Wash or Mexican Water Wash method, with the later being the most expensive method.

Natural method

So, what is the natural method? In this method paint thinner (methylene Chloride) or nail polish remover (Ethyl Acetate) is used to remove caffeine from the beans. The beans are soaked in one of the two the solutions, then rinsed and prepared for shipping. This method is far from natural, but it is quick and efficient.  If you buy decaf from a grocery store or restaurant this is most notably what you are drinking.  Not the best option for you or the environment.

Indirect method

The indirect method also uses paint thinners and nail polish remover. The beans are first soaked in boiling water to remove the caffeine (along with all the flavor), then the beans are removed from the water, the water is treated with the solvents to pull the caffeine from the water, and then the beans are re-introduced to the solvent water to regain the taste they lost. Again, not a great environmentally friendly option for you or the environment.

CO2 method

Next, we have the CO2 method.  This method uses a tremendous amount of CO2 that is pumped into vats of boiled beans.  The CO2 literally squeezes the caffeine from the beans.  This is a healthier option for caffeine extraction, but the amount of CO2 that is needed is rather draining on the environment.  

Water wash method

And lastly, there is the Swiss Water Wash or Mexican Mountain Water Wash method.  In this caffeine removal process, only water is used to strip the beans of their caffeine.  The beans are boiled and then removed from the caffeinated water.  The caffeinated water is charged with other caffeine molecules which pulls the caffeine from the water without the use of solvents.  The beans are then once again reintroduced to the water so they can get back the taste they lost. 

Once our tasters learned of the four methods for extracting caffeine, they were relieved that they had not ingested the chemical methods that most coffee farmers use.  They now know that if they had to drink decaf (people literally drink coffee for the caffeine), it would only be a water washed method. 

Model Citizen has you covered

At Model Citizen it is important that we deliver a shining, yet clean cups of coffee whether caffeinated or not, and it must be good for both our Model Citizen family and the environment we live in.  So, if you must switch to decaf, for whatever reason, know that we have you covered.  Cheers!   

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