Colombia is the third largest coffee-growing country after Brazil and Vietnam, and the Huila region is the largest producing region in Colombia, but most commonly comprises small farms sizes usually of 1 to 3 hectares. There is a very wide spectrum of amazing flavours available from these coffees, tons of sweet ripe fruity notes, very rich full body, and loads of almost ‘jammy’ complexity.
Our new decaf offering comes from the Red Association El Carmen group which comprises approximately 300 families. The coffee is grown and harvested in normal conditions and then transported to the decaffeination plant. We first cupped it at origin on a table of about 20 incredible coffees and were blown away by the score. We have lots of fun including this coffee blind which means that nobody knows which coffees they are cupping and none of the team ever expect us to include a decaf coffee on the cupping table, as usual, the process to decaffeinate doesn’t just remove the caffeine – it removes the majority of the other positive flavours.
To briefly describe the natural decaffeination process in layman’s terms that this coffee goes through:
Green coffee beans are first steamed with low pressure to remove the silver skins. The coffee is then moistened with clean spring water to swell and soften the beans and start the hydrolysis of caffeine which is bonded to salts of chlorogenic acid inside the beans. The beans then pass through extractors using a natural solvent derived from sugar cane called natural Ethyl Acetate, removing 97% of the caffeine (which is the FDA requirement). Steam is then used to remove the residual solvent and the beans are then transferred to vacuum driers to remove the water and return the bean to the desired 10 – 12% humidity.
- Ethyl Acetate is a naturally occurring chemical found in many edible foods, with a banana typically containing 20 times the levels found in coffee once it has finished this decaffeination process.
- Any residual Ethyl Acetate is removed entirely during the roasting process from green bean to roasted coffee.