Decaffeinated Colombia Popayan
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Altitude: 1,500 - 2,070 m.a.s.l
Variety: Castillo, Colombia, Caturra
Processing: washed, sugarcane decaffeination
There are a few ways to naturally decaffeinate coffee and you might recognize some of the names—Swiss Water Process, CO2 process or sparkling water process—but almost all decaffeinated coffee tastes like, well, decaf. Since trying our first sample of sugarcane decaf we’ve been amazed at how it tastes like real coffee with caffeine. We actually like drinking it!
This is a regional lot of decaffeinated coffee that comes to us from a new-to-us importer, Cofinet, who works specifically with Colombian farms. It’s grown by several producers on a plateau in the Andes called the Meseta de Popayán. The sheltered location creates a homogeneous climate and consistent altitude that are really good for growing coffee. According to Cofinet, they’ve worked to build long-term relationships with about 65 farmers in the region, encouraging them to focus on quality. By producing high quality specialty coffee farmers can earn up to 20% premiums above the market price.
We’ve loved every sugarcane decaf we’ve tried, and this one is no exception. The caffeine is extracted using ethyl acetate naturally derived from sugarcane, which is also grown in Colombia. The green beans are put into a steam chamber where the silverskin is removed from the bean. After this, the beans are saturated with spring water and then soaked in sugarcane ethyl acetate for 8 hours, which extracts the caffeine. Then the decaffeinated coffee is dried to reach the same moisture content that it had prior to the process. The result is decaf that doesn’t taste like decaf. Win win.
More on sugarcane decaffeination
This process uses ethyl acetate, a natural byproduct of sugarcane processing, to create a solution in which the beans are soaked. The beans are steamed to open up their pores (like a coffee bean facial!) and then they’re soaked in the magic (actually it’s very scientific) liquid, which pulls out the caffeine. Caffeine in coffee is bonded to salts. When the beans are soaked in an ethyl acetate solution it bonds with the chlorogenic acid in the bean and the caffeine is extracted.
Ethyl acetate is naturally found in other food products like ripe bananas and beer. Once the beans are soaked and rinsed several times and go through a final steam for good measure, they’re dried to optimal humidity (10-12%), and then shipped to us.
You might notice that your decaf beans are darker than the caffeinated coffee we roast. This is a result of the beans having been wet and then dried. The raw green beans that we put in the roaster are darker, and so they look darker when they come out too. A typical decaf roast is slightly longer (by a minute or so) than a caffeinated roast because it takes a little extra energy to dry out the beans to the point where they start the roasting process, but the resulting flavour isn’t dark or roasty. It’s sweet and malty and delicious in your cafetiere or as an espresso!
Read more about caffeine and decaffeination in our blog post 'Decaf is not a dirty word'.
A note about packaging
Our packaging is 100% plastic free - the pouch is fully home compostable and can be either composted in your garden or returned to us here at Steampunk to be composted. The shipping box is fully recyclable and made from a mix of recycled and FSC certified card. You can read more about our packaging journey in this blog post.
Are you storing your coffee correctly? Find out more here.