How does the Swiss Water Process work?

How does the Swiss Water Process work?
Some of our delicious coffees, like our Ethiopian Ceremony, have been decaffeinated by Swiss Water. We realized many people are wondering how Swiss Water naturally removes caffeine. Without further ado, allow us to answer some of the questions people frequently ask us about the Swiss Water® Process.

How does the Swiss Water Process work?

The magic of Swiss Water actually occurs in Canada, not Switzerland, where the water-based process was pioneered. It is chemical-free and uses only coffee, time, temperature and of course, water to remove the caffeine. The water is actually glacial runoff from the mountains in British Columbia, does it get more pure than that?

The Swiss Water Process uses diffusion (a process similar to osmosis) to decaffeinate. Remember the idea that if you slept with a textbook under your pillow, knowledge would flow from where there is a lot (the textbook) to where there is less (your brain)? At Swiss Water, diffusion is used to relocate caffeine from where there is a lot of it (in the bean) to where there is less of it (the water it soaks in).

Green (unroasted) beans are immersed in fresh water to open the pores. Then they are immersed in “Green Coffee Extract” (or GCE) which is water that contains coffee flavor compounds. The water pulls out the caffeine, but not the flavor since the water is already saturated with flavor molecules. The caffeine is captured in the carbon filter and the GCE is used to decaffeinate the next batch of coffee. The process of removing caffeine by exposing the coffee to GCE takes about 10 hours to reach the sweet spot. The coffee is then sent to a roaster to bring you amazing coffee, sans caffeine!

If you want more technical details, check out video at the bottom of this post. 


What is this GCE?

Green Coffee Extract is basically water with coffee molecules. Swiss Water makes the GCE by soaking the green coffee in water to pull out the caffeine and flavor molecules from this first batch of beans. At this point, the water is filled with caffeine and coffee flavor molecules. Then, the first batch of green coffee is thrown away and a carbon filter is used to capture the caffeine from the water. The water now has only flavor molecules and is what Swiss Water calls the “Green Coffee Extract” or GCE. It can then be used to decaffeinate any other coffee that is sent their way.

How much caffeine is in Swiss Water Decaf?

Swiss Water coffee is 99.9% caffeine-free. That can translate to a few milligrams of caffeine per cup, almost zero when compared to the 100 mg or more that is found per 8 oz cup of caffeinated coffee.

Is Swiss Water Safe? And is Swiss Water safe during pregnancy?

The Swiss Water Process is water-based and doesn’t use any chemicals. Even more, coffee that is organic before decaffeination remains organic certified after Swiss Water removes the caffeine.

Where can I Buy Swiss Water decaffeinated coffee?

Our newest coffee, Ethiopian Love Story, was decaffeinated by Swiss Water and we will offer others in the future!