Our People; Case Studies; Blog; Contact; Decaffeinated Coffee. Coffee has to be picked, processed out of the coffee cherry (various methods many are sun dried and mechanically stripped) then can be shipped off. Seriously the plastic waste from coffee bags worldwide is probably shockingly ridiculous. From what I have read online, Starbucks is very generous with giving you all the grounds you could want if you call ahead. Coffee is probably one of the dirtiest agricultural products and one of the most energy intensive you can buy. Summertime and the selling's still not easy (but it's getting easier). Mexico: 3 firms fulfill decaf & soluble needs. "And in this manner of production, the coffee really doesn't last very long, and it really degrades the environment." In the indirect method the solvent only interacts with the water once it’s separated from the beans. However, does decaffeinated coffee offer the same health benefits as caffeinated coffee? I furthered my research by reading the Qusac Decaf Company website which stated the following: “Today, we continue to find new ways to reduce our consumption of natural resources, reduce our contribution to landfill sites, recovery and recycle our process water and recover and refine compounds from our decaffeination waste stream and heat recovery program all while increasing the extraction efficiency and producing the best tasting Eco-Friendly decaf on the market today.”. The EPA has mandated pretty strict controls of roaster air leaving a roastery. Though at $92 USD for an 11x11X20 inch box that is pretty expensive. Let’s look at current decaf processes and then dive into coffee as a whole! The Decaffeination Process. As a gardener I want lots of birds coming around and eating the slugs out of my garden! Some may argue that the way decaf coffee is decaffeinated may make it bad for you. Finally you use more energy to boil water to brew your coffee. For webmasters. Going down an internet rabbit hole, I came across a query asking if decaf was bad for the environment. Having tried the mountain-water filtered decaffeinated coffee myself, whilst hubby tried the caffeinated coffee, we can both vouch for how delicious this coffee is. For the enviroment my biggest issue after writing this article the is waste from the coffee bags. Sadly this novel method has gained little market share due to the much higher cost. Studies show exposure to even small amounts of methylene chloride can slow down the central nervous system temporarily. It made me wonder if my decaf was doing more then repelling slugs in my garden. Green tea really is greener: the milk in a cup of white tea or coffee creates more CO2 than boiling the water. Coffee naturally contains caffeine (as do tea, chocolate and lots of other plants) so to make decaf you’ve got to take the caffeine out of the coffee bean. Microbes present in the aqueous phase then biologically degrade the contaminants through oxidative and occasionally reductive reactions. The next best option is to ask your favorite local coffee shop to consider using compostable bags or at least some level of recyclable coffee bags. The decaffeination process generally is of low risk of environmental harm. Probably not, I didn’t either until I read an article in Roast Magazine March/April 2020  about the permitting process for coffee roasters. September, 2018. Even local governments exploit poorer local workers as a means to sell coffee to the global market. Reflections of a decaf avoider: this CO2 decaf is ok. Decaf coffees enjoy increasing popularity. And is decaf coffee or tea bad for you? Recently I was looking online for natural slug repellent for my garden. This property lets it effectively extract the caffeine and no other flavors that some of the other methods inherently extract. More tomatoes, peppers and greens for me! Maybe. https://www.accessengineeringlibrary.com/content/book/9780070276895/chapter/chapter3, Ahindra Nag. We spoke with registered dietitian, ... And if you’re worried about the effect on the environment of chemical decaffeination, again Carbon says you can rest assured no major harm is being done. Allegro Organic French Decaf. Is this polluting? India Sturgis and Richard Kieswick gave their verdict on a selection of the best decaf coffees. Just to be clear this isn’t meant to choose any side of controversial environmental issues but just an comparison between different products you use in life. The direct method is the one most people worry about in terms of health and the environment due the methylene chloride used in the process. October, 2018 . Not quite zero waste but close. Looking further into the matter I discovered a study linked here that shows over a ten year period workers exposed to high contractions of methylene chloride versus non exposed workers showed no difference in their liver, cardiac or neurological health! A full-sun coffee farm in central Colombia Much of the recent shift away from shade is due to the growth of the coffee industries in Brazil and Vietnam, the first- and second-biggest producers in the world in 2010, according to the study. When decaf was first invented, Benzene was used as a solvent to remove the caffeine in the direct method. Thurston, Robert W. (2020). A quick google search showed that an interesting company called Terracycle offers a coffee bag recycling program. I would guess you can fit about 100 coffee bags in there so it is about $1 USD to recycle a complex multi-layer material. This is a great option if you have a have a compost pile in your yard. Bird friendly gets its name from protecting the natural ecosystem on the coffee farm to protect the bird population as an integral partner to a healthy ecosystem. It is unlikely to be harmful if you drink it without an excess of cream or sweeteners and in moderate amounts. Pesticides, poor farming practices, deforestation, loss of habitat, global shipping, energy usage in roasting and more transporting to you the end consumer. For me I love my coffee and will continue to support the best roasters with the highest quality decaf. In theory no solvent ever touches the beans but that water is recombined with the bean’s at the end of the process. Finally the economics of coffee drives farming practices. If you’re a zero waste kind of person you could make a cool epoxy mosaic bar table with all your bags for the year. The chemicals used on decaffeinated coffee used to be toxic, but there are newer techniques. Introducing the Environmental Agenda. Recyclable Packaging . "These … Is that good or bad? Retrieved August 02, 2020, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8455098/, Jay H. Lehr; Marve Hyman; Tyler Gass; William J. Seevers. Next the coffee was flo from Guatemala or Sumantra to a warehouse in the US (or wherever you live), next shipped by truck to a decaffeination processor, then tricked again to a roaster, roasted again with most likely coal or natural gas generated electricity, then packed and shipped again by truck to your place of purchase. Did you know that coffee roasting can release volatile organic compounds, particulates and other nasties? C02 is highly pressurized and then used to wash the beans in a special chamber under pressure. An evaluation of chronic methylene chloride exposure. Retrieved August 02, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shade-grown_coffee, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR. Unfortunately, the process of growing coffee plants can negatively effect the environment. Organic Choice. Swiss Water process offers marketing program. The answer is a qualified yes. Reading the book Uncommon Grounds it’s apparent how bad coffee has been for many peoples around the world. Meister, (2018, August 09). (use of carbon in processing Swiss Water brand), environmental problems with decaffeinated coffee processing. Challenges of Biodiversity in San Miguel de Allende. Most coffee is produced in conventional coffee farms that are portions of clear cut forest. The three processes that remove the caffeine from the coffee bean are through the extraction of water, solvent and/or carbon dioxide. You can read the Wikipedia article here. Yeah, they’re full of chemicals to make all the layers of foil plastic and complex one way valves needed to seal in that awesome decaf from that trendy local roaster. I’m sure there are other novel decaf methods out there that are really just an overview of the current used processes. May Cause Heart Complications. Swiss Water decaffeinated coffee unlocking the "black box." If that’s not bad for the environment I don’t know what is! Add in a few more miscellaneous items like those mentioned in the book The Coffee Book: Anatomy of an Industry from Crop to the Last Drop  (fyi I haven’t read it but a snippet is available on google), mainly the diesel power crusher to remove the cherries from the beans or the natural gas forklift to unload them at the dock and into the truck. Where do old coffee grounds go when they worn out and used up? The triglyceride method is the same idea as Swiss Water except triglycerides, like those from spent coffee grounds, are used as the solvent to capture the caffeine. He tirelessly roasts, grinds, brews, and drinks all sorts of decaf to find the very best. Separating the solvent from the extract is easily accomplished by reducing pressure and returning CO2 to a gaseous state. I quickly searched to find a approximate percentage and Wikipedia shows about 24% of coffee is shade grown, through the total pounds has shrunk due to increases in total production volume of conventional coffee. You do have one right?! Go grab a nice cup of coffee or hopefully you were drinking one while reading this article. What is used in coffee decaffeination is a fraction of that. Other than the occasional overzealous gardener few go to compost. I think this sums up the industry well. Perhaps you might luck into some of the less robust ones packed in kraft paper style bags that are compostable. Long story short, the next day and after drinking the first cup of decaf coffee, I googled something about decaf coffee (don't remember the exact keyword). Probably something you never considered was how much fossil fuels were required to transport your nice finely roasters decaf to your doorstep. Really the same method with a different solvent. (n.d.). Nag summarizes the benefits well in his book Biosystems Engineering, ch 16.1; “There are growing concerns of health and environment problems associated with the use of traditional solvent extraction techniques employed in consumer products. Focus on Food. It’s in the decafinators best interest to reduce all waste from their process including chemicals such as methylene chloride. COPYRIGHT 1991 Lockwood Trade Journal Co., Inc. This is not a commendation of everyone that does business in coffee producing countries but reading Uncommon Grounds shows a clear pattern of exploitation. There are quite a few misconceptions around decaffeination and decaf coffee. Sorry coffee gardens no luck unless you live in Hawaii. Decaf coffee provides a number of health benefits, making it a smart choice for people who are looking to minimize the amount of caffeine they consume. As for which method is best, let’s take a look. No difference! Reading from the pages of Roast Magazine March/April 2020, pg 58 on the current coffee price crisis, the cost of production is higher then the sale price of coffee, shows how damaging coffee can be. Coffee is probably in general one of the most environmentally damaging and exploitative crops in the whole world. https://www.thefreelibrary.com/Decaf-environmental+problems.-a011088614. Madison, C. (2020). Bet you didn’t think of that. The solvent can be recycled for further use.”. Home / Blog / Decaffeinated Coffee. In the microbial process, contaminants are converted to carbon dioxide, water vapor, and organic biomass. That obviously is a very toxic substance and  no doubt bad for the environment. What is a supercritical fluid? The direct/indirect methods are the same with the exception being whether the water contacts the beans or not. The big drawback is it’s very expensive and can only be done on large scales. The first thing I remember reading is that decaf coffee is hazardous to drink because of the decaffeination process. (2020, April 17). Swiss water process. Note that is for all coffee not specifically decaf just to be clear. Well if you’re like me and you save random empty coffee bags then you would have learned it’s probably around ½ oz of material. Interestingly, as with caffeinated coffee, the majority of published studies that have evaluated the relationship between decaffeinated coffee and risk of type 2 diabetes have reported similar inverse associations3,6-8. Some other risks involved include headaches, drowsiness, coughing and wheezing, and lightheadedness. (n.d.). If you think of strawberries from Mexico or apples from Argentina those have to be picked, packed and refrigerated. Reading the Handbook of Complex Environmental Remediation Problems, on biofilters (filters using microbes), it lists methylene chloride/dichlormethane as having good biodegradability. 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