The sugar cane decaf process uses a naturally occurring compound called Ethyl Acetate (EA) to extract at least 97% of caffeine from green coffee beans. Firstly, ethanol is created through fermenting molasses of sugar cane; the ethanol is then mixed with acetic acid to create EA.
After being harvested, the green coffee beans will be sent to the decaffeination plant to be steamed for 30 minutes. The steaming process helps to open up the pores of the beans and soften them so that caffeine extraction can happen.
Next, the beans are submerged in a tank of solution created through mixing water and EA. During the submersion, the solvent will naturally bond to the salts of chlorogenic acids from the coffee beans and dissolve the caffeine. Whenever the coffee beans are saturated, the tank will be drained and a new mixture of water and EA will be added again. This process repeats for up to 8 hours.
After all caffeine has been extracted, the beans will undergo a final low-pressure steaming at a temperature higher than the boiling point of EA. This ensures that any residual EA surrounding the beans will be evaporated and removed.
Finally the decaffeinated coffee beans will be dried until the moisture content is similar to that prior to the decaffeinating process. The most challenging part of this process is trying to retain the rich flavours of the original coffee while removing the caffeine itself. However, a well-processed coffee will be able to produce decaf coffee which has a deep profile as well as sweet notes of milk chocolate and sugar cane.