The decaffeination process
Decaffeinated coffee is obtained by extracting caffeine from the bean while it is still green, and subsequently treating it with processes similar to those used for regular coffee.
Three different approaches can be used for the extraction: organic solvents (dichloromethane or ethyl acetate), water, or carbon dioxide (CO2 in liquid or supercritical state).
Unlike the first two methods of decaffeination, which involve the elimination of caffeine, but also cause a loss in terms of taste, the use of carbon dioxide allows us to maintain the aromatic characteristics of the coffee leaving it unaltered. That’s why this method is the one Lavazza uses, it is the most natural way to decaffeinate coffee beans and maintain it’s great taste.
During the first phase of the process, the beans are moistened with steam and/or water until 30–50% of moisture is obtained. Then, they are placed in a gas extraction cylinder, with gas being in a “supercritical” state. This occurs when the temperature and pressure are such that it features both the properties of a gas and those of a liquid. In this way it spreads like a gas with the solvent properties of a liquid, managing to extract the caffeine in a selective way. The carbon dioxide is then separated from the alkaloid using the water, re-pressurised and reused.
The cycle ends with the now-decaffeinated coffee being dried. The coffee is then packed and ready for you to enjoy at home.