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Coffee12 December 2023

Decaffeinating with Swiss Water, with Erin Reed

We were lucky enough to welcome Erin Reed, Marketing Manager at Swiss Water, the water-based decaffeinating company we work with. We took the opportunity to ask her a few questions about her company.

Erin, could you tell us a bit about Swiss Water?

Swiss Water® is a Canadian company based in Vancouver. We have patented the Swiss Water® process, a decaffeination method that contains no chemical solvents.

This method uses only coffee, water, time and temperature to remove caffeine from specialty coffee, keeping its original character intact. The result is, as we like to say in our signature phrase: "incredible caffeine-free coffee"!

Swiss Water only decaffeinates with water: can you tell us more about how this process works?

Unroasted green coffee is immersed in our natural solvent, Green Coffee Extract (GCE). GCE is a water-based solution containing all the compounds naturally present in green coffee, with the exception of caffeine.

By immersing green coffee (rich in caffeine) in GCE (caffeine-free), a caffeine imbalance is created. This imbalance causes the natural migration of caffeine (much in the coffee, none in the GCE) in a process called osmosis, until both the green coffee and the GCE reach a state of equilibrium.

The GCE, now containing caffeine, is filtered through our patented carbon filters, which retain only the caffeine, allowing the GCE to return to its caffeine-free state. This extract is then brought back into contact with the green coffee to renew the process. This cycle continues until the coffee is 99.9% caffeine-free.

What do you see as the main opportunities for a roaster in the decaffeinated coffee market?

Consumers want to drink coffee all day long, while controlling the effects of caffeine. As the quality of regular coffee has improved, those who also drink decaffeinated coffee expect it to taste just as good... and they're prepared to pay more for it!

In the end, they drink for the taste. Decaffeinated coffee doesn't replace regular coffee; it's a complementary purchase. So if they can't find a good decaffeinated coffee option, they'll simply switch to another roaster or another beverage.

Traditionally, roasters used poor-quality green coffee and an inexpensive, chemical-based decaffeination process. Today, with the Swiss Water Process, roasters can offer high-quality decaffeinated coffee, because our process preserves the original characteristics of the green coffee.

Swiss Water is known for the quality of its marketing tools for roasters. Can you tell us more?

We want to help roasters meet their aspirations for great coffee through decaf. And we want to help them sell more decaf through the value of the Swiss Water brand, which signals high quality, chemical-free decaf to consumers. Among the available resources from Swiss Water are:

  • Decaf Roasting & Brewing Guides
  • Educational videos
  • Consumer messaging tools such as our store locator, brochures & stickers