Understanding decaffinated coffee

We drink a fair bit of coffee at home.  Sara has always ‘needed’ a coffee or two in the morning, and since we bought a decent coffee machine for the kitchen I’ve also been  pretty keen.  However, recently we thought it would be good to have a decaf week or two, after a couple of folks at work said they’d done it and felt much better for it.  What was interesting is that others have reported a degree of withdrawal symptoms, but Sa (who drinks more than I do) really felt nothing at all.

We also found it harder than expected to get decaffinated beans, so I was looking for internet suppliers this morning, and also trying to understand how you decaffinate a bean (I hate having no idea how that sort of process works).  Wikipedia (this article and this one) gave quite a bit of info, but  I found the following description at one supplier which was well written.

The thing that really surprised me was that Arabica beans (the better tasting ones) have about half the caffene of Robusta beans (the cheaper and more common ones). This may well explain why Sa felt so little withdrawl impact from giving up – she wasn’t that bad to start with!  The other interesting thing was that whilst decaffeination does damage the flavour, it is worse for stronger roasts.  Since we have very dark roasts, this may explain why we didn’t find a decaf strong coffee bean we liked.

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