You can’t grow coffee beans without caffeine, so to get decaf the caffeine has to be removed. Just like any coffee, there’s good decaf and bad decaf. There’s no excuse for the latter, so here’s Switch Espresso’s guide to finding a great brew (or you can shortcut the process and head straight to the Switch store for our own guaranteed tasty decaf blend).
The original way of decaffeinating coffee involved soaking it in benzene. You’ll be happy to know we don’t do that, but there are several methods of decaffeinating. Some are sketchier than others, and some can ruin or wash out the flavour. Our decaf is naturally processed in Mexico using the Mountain Water Process. It’s exactly what it sounds like: steamed unroasted beans are soaked in pure water from the mountain Pico de Orizaba to extract the caffeine without removing the all-important flavour compounds. This method can only really be used for small batches and it makes top-notch decaf. The beans are then dried and sent to us for roasting.
Decaf doesn’t keep its freshness as well as unprocessed beans. Don’t worry, that bag you bought last month isn’t going to go off overnight – but you wouldn’t want to hoard it in your bunker for next year. And you’ll want to buy it from someone you trust so you know it’s not old stock.
At Switch Espresso we run two different decaf blends, depending on the time of year. Our winter brew comes from Peru, and the summer brew from Honduras. That’s because those two countries harvest their beans at different times of year and means we can keep a fresh stock of decaf all year round.
Like with all our coffees, we know exactly where our decaf beans come from, and are proud that they’re ethically produced. Our Peruvian decaf comes from a cooperative of small family farms called Centrocafe. The Honduran decaf is also from a collective, COMSA, a group of 69 farmers who banded together to take on the local big boys and produce organic coffee that returns profits to the people who grow it. Both blends are medium-bodied, and connoisseurs will notice a difference in the flavour profiles.
Decaf is straight-up hard to roast. The beans tend to roast much faster than their caffeinated friends and careless roasting will easily burn them. We’ve got a switched-on roasting team and a state-of-the-art roaster that lets us digitally monitor and control every part of the roasting process. Most importantly, we taste test every batch and you can be sure that if it wasn’t up to scratch, it wouldn’t end up in your cup.
Remember: going caffeine-free is never an excuse for bad espresso. Be sure you’re getting the right stuff and drink Switch Royal Processed Decaf.