• Decaffeinated coffee

    Caffeine is a natural substance found in the leaves, seeds or fruits of more than sixty plants species worldwide. The level of its presence in non-decaffeinated coffee depends on a number of factors: different types of coffee contain varying levels of caffeine. Factors determining this include the variety of the coffee tree itself and where grown, soil, altitude, climate etc.

    The decaffeination process is applicable to both soluble coffee (spray dried and freeze dried) and roasted coffee. Decaffeinated coffee enjoyed a considerable rise in popularity during the 1980s, especially in the United States, but its performance in the market during the 1990s has not been very strong.

    Decaffeinated coffee is seen as having to compete with other specialty coffees and although consumers of decaffeinated coffee tend to be very loyal to the product, caffeine no longer appears to be an issue that most consumers are particularly concerned about.

    Despite technological improvements in the decaffeination process over the last fifteen years, and in particular the development of what many see as better processes which use water and carbon dioxide rather than methyl chloride, the product is losing market share. It is estimated that decaffeinated coffee currently accounts for around 9 to 10% of all coffee sales. Usually, it commands only a small premium over non-decaffeinated coffee and frequently is sold for the same price: consequently the economics of the decaffeination are tight.

    In mid
    2010, trade sources estimated that the cost of the process ranged from US$ 0.50–0.65 per kg of green bean, for the cheapest process using methyl chloride, to about double that for the more expensive methods. Incidentally, there is a substantial market for extracted, crude caffeine in industries such as pharmaceuticals and soft drinks.

    Updated 11/2010
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