Caffeine and Coffee

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About
Caffeine (which is present also in tea and chocolate, although in smaller proportions) is the constituent of coffee which give it its ‘kick’. By itself, it is without aroma and has just a faint bitter taste.
For those who wish to enjoy the characteristic aroma and flavour of coffee without the kick, there are decaffeinated coffees available.
The caffeine is removed from the green berries, preferably by the method which involves soaking them for hours in hot water; drawing off the water, which will contain virtually all the caffeine; removing by means of a solvent the caffeine from the water; removing the solvent from the water (from which it is easily separable); restoring the water to the berries; drying them and dispatching them for further processing in just the same ways as apply to non-decaffeinated beans. This method should result in ridding the coffee of 97 per cent of its caffeine, in no appreciable loss of desirable aromas and flavours, and in retention of virtually none of the solvent used.