You can probably recall some  company in the news for making a decision to pollute something because it was the lowest cost method (and technically legal), cough, Love Canal, cough! It’s coffee that has virtually all of the caffeine removed from it. This is a great option if you have a have a compost pile in your yard. Challenges of Biodiversity in San Miguel de Allende. Reflections of a decaf avoider: this CO2 decaf is ok. Decaf coffees enjoy increasing popularity. On more than one occasion I also mixed the two for a nice morning cocktail. The solvent can be recycled for further use.”. Summertime and the selling's still not easy (but it's getting easier). At times farmers have even burned entire crops of coffee because the sale price was so low due oversupplies. Recyclable Packaging . The first thing I remember reading is that decaf coffee is hazardous to drink because of the decaffeination process. Organic Choice. Carbon dioxide is a potential extraction solvent alternative to the traditional organic solvents. While coffee often gets a bad rep, it actually contains beneficial antioxidants. Other than the occasional overzealous gardener few go to compost. There are quite a few misconceptions around decaffeination and decaf coffee. As for the environmental effects of methylene chloride, I couldn’t find an authoritative answer. Bird friendly gets its name from protecting the natural ecosystem on the coffee farm to protect the bird population as an integral partner to a healthy ecosystem. According to an article on serious eats linked here, it’s about 11 pounds of C02 per pound of coffee! The chemicals used on decaffeinated coffee used to be toxic, but there are newer techniques. Combined with the roasting process which destroys methylene chloride, the causes for concern for health are likely low. For the enviroment my biggest issue after writing this article the is waste from the coffee bags. Coffee naturally contains caffeine (as do tea, chocolate and lots of other plants) so to make decaf you’ve got to take the caffeine out of the coffee bean. However, does decaffeinated coffee offer the same health benefits as caffeinated coffee? It gets packed up and shipped to the store or you. French roast (dark) Pre-ground. Looking at a few papers and articles online confirmed that process improvements are underway and much less toxic chemicals will be needed to extract the oils for bio diesel. In the end it just saves them money to be environmentally minded. Just to be clear this isn’t meant to choose any side of controversial environmental issues but just an comparison between different products you use in life. Current medical opinion is that decaffeinated tea or coffee is safe to drink from early pregnancy onwards, and it is recommended to consume it as an alternative to regular tea or coffee. In the microbial process, contaminants are converted to carbon dioxide, water vapor, and organic biomass. Depending on origin you coffee probably started its journey on a truck front he field at least a couple dozen miles to a processing center which used some level of electricity however generated i.e. Retrieved August 02, 2020, from http://www.qusac.com/pages/get-educated/faqs/, Wilson, A. Minimal exposure to methylene chloride in coffee seen by FDA. You do have one right?! Hopefully that changes as I think those methods would address some of the concerns people have with the direct process. If you made it this far, congratulations! This got me... Decaf Lover's Guide to the Perfect Grind! Yes that is true but those are small numbers compared to the total amount of conventional coffee grown. But if you drink it on a regular basis it would be wise to know the adverse effects, so that you can make an informed decision. That obviously is a very toxic substance and  no doubt bad for the environment. In theory no solvent ever touches the beans but that water is recombined with the bean’s at the end of the process. This leads to low qualities of life, lack of sanitation, disease, and conflict. Bulletproof Coffee The Original Ground Decaf. I found that coffee grounds make a great repellent and caffeine makes a lethal pesticide for slugs! Our People; Case Studies; Blog; Contact; Decaffeinated Coffee. Coffee has to be picked, processed out of the coffee cherry (various methods many are sun dried and mechanically stripped) then can be shipped off. Decaffeinated coffee might increase the levels of bad cholesterol … It might be as simple as dumping the spent coffee cherries into the river. Unfortunately, the process of growing coffee plants can negatively effect the environment. For me I love my coffee and will continue to support the best roasters with the highest quality decaf. Pesticides, poor farming practices, deforestation, loss of habitat, global shipping, energy usage in roasting and more transporting to you the end consumer. COPYRIGHT 1991 Lockwood Trade Journal Co., Inc. "And in this manner of production, the coffee really doesn't last very long, and it really degrades the environment." link to What alcohol goes best with coffee? The compostable paper bag would be best though probably the shortest shelf life and least protection for the coffee. Coffee farming and production has a storied history of environmental problems. … Biosystems Engineering. We would also suggest drinking organic decaf tea to avoid the chemicals and benefit from the (at least partially retained) health benefits. If that’s not bad for the environment I don’t know what is! I intend to be much more selctive if I can about the type of bags I buy. Retrieved August 02, 2020, from https://drinks.seriouseats.com/2013/10/calculating-coffees-carbon-footprint-energy-usage-to-farm-pick-ship-roast-brew-coffee.html. In Mark Pendergrast’s book, Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World, there is story after story of the coffee farmers often not breaking even on their coffee production costs. It made me wonder if my decaf was doing more then repelling slugs in my garden. Will is a coffee aficionado tired of dirty sock water decaf. According to Wikipedia it is not an ozone depleting chemical due to its short life in the atmosphere. Seriously the plastic waste from coffee bags worldwide is probably shockingly ridiculous. (n.d.). I’m not sure that really gets us anywhere though cool and interesting. Once it finally reaches the roaster then it gets roasted using natural gas or electricity (which is probably generated from coal or natural gas) to create that tasty coffee with aroma of dried cherries and notes of lime. The three processes that remove the caffeine from the coffee bean are through the extraction of water, solvent and/or carbon dioxide. I’ll leave that for you to decide. Reading from the pages of Roast Magazine March/April 2020, pg 58 on the current coffee price crisis, the cost of production is higher then the sale price of coffee, shows how damaging coffee can be. Finally you use more energy to boil water to brew your coffee. If you think of strawberries from Mexico or apples from Argentina those have to be picked, packed and refrigerated. Is that good or bad? I would guess about 99% of decaf is either the solvent method or a water process method. Sadly this novel method has gained little market share due to the much higher cost. Where do old coffee grounds go when they worn out and used up? Over the holidays I drank a lot of good coffee and a decent amount of bourbon! Decaf Mobius is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Are the pastic bags any better, Im not sure, but I can at least reuse them a few times myself. Some may argue that the way decaf coffee is decaffeinated may make it bad for you. October, 2018 . Supercritical Fluid Extraction Applications for Biosystems Engineering, Chapter (The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., 2010). If you want to read all the concerns of methylene chloride you can see this link from OSHA. No difference! Is decaf coffee bad for the environment? May Cause Heart Complications. More tomatoes, peppers and greens for me! Seriously go weigh your posh coffee bag and see how much it weighs, I’ll wait! When decaf was first invented, Benzene was used as a solvent to remove the caffeine in the direct method. link to Decaf Lover's Guide to the Perfect Grind! If you enjoyed this please share it and read some of my other great articles like 42 Reasons to Drink Decaf here. The big drawback is it’s very expensive and can only be done on large scales. For webmasters. Mostly the land fill! Decaffeinated coffee may have a harmful effect on the heart by increasing the levels of a specific cholesterol in the blood, researchers say. I doubt anyone has a true end to end analysis of the exact amount of energy required to ship coffee from orgin to your door roasted but it’s huge! Drink coffee, not caffeine! The swiss water process/mountain water processes are basically identical in the fact the solvent used is water and is then filtered to remove the caffeine. Pretty low compared to your favorite pair of sneakers at about 30 pounds. Poor med students staying up all night with caffeine pills, they’re such nice people…. Coffee Bespoke Blend Creation Packing & Packaging. C02 is highly pressurized and then used to wash the beans in a special chamber under pressure. As a home roaster the good news is most green coffee is shipped in paper or simple plastic bags. Decaffeinated coffee comes from the exact same coffee beans that the caffeinated variety does, the caffeine content is simply removed. Wow I know my head hurts just thinking how much diesel was burned shipping one pound of roaster coffee to your door! most likely coal or natural gas. Almost no coffee is processed by C02 or triglyceride currently. September, 2018. Loss of habitat, burning of trees, poor soil management, and large applications of pesticides are prevalent in coffee farms. Retrieved August 02, 2020, from https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/methylenechloride/hazards.html, Ecological Benefits of Shade-grown Coffee. Did you know that coffee roasting can release volatile organic compounds, particulates and other nasties? Just to confirm, I am not affiliated to either of these brands, but feel they both offer a brilliant alternative for people with health issues looking for a healthier decaffeinated coffee. The Environmental Crisis in México. Supercritical C02 method is probably the most modern and sci-fi but really the same principle. (use of carbon in processing Swiss Water brand), environmental problems with decaffeinated coffee processing. The decaffeination process generally is of low risk of environmental harm. A report by Mintel shows that a million Britons have switched to decaf coffee in the past 12 months. I furthered my research by reading the Qusac Decaf Company website which stated the following: “Today, we continue to find new ways to reduce our consumption of natural resources, reduce our contribution to landfill sites, recovery and recycle our process water and recover and refine compounds from our decaffeination waste stream and heat recovery program all while increasing the extraction efficiency and producing the best tasting Eco-Friendly decaf on the market today.”. This property lets it effectively extract the caffeine and no other flavors that some of the other methods inherently extract. Go grab a nice cup of coffee or hopefully you were drinking one while reading this article. In fact, a 2014 meta-analysis of prospective studies concluded that in addition to an effect with caffeinated coffee, an 11% reduction for every 2 additional cups […] The next best option is to ask your favorite local coffee shop to consider using compostable bags or at least some level of recyclable coffee bags. Economic factors lead to other harmful environmental practices. Lucky for us modern day drinkers we don’t have to worry about such harsh chemicals being used. I would guess you can fit about 100 coffee bags in there so it is about $1 USD to recycle a complex multi-layer material. Supercritical CO2 has advantages of low cost, nontoxicity, high diffusivities with appreciable solubility, and low viscosity. The direct/indirect methods are the same with the exception being whether the water contacts the beans or not. Going down an internet rabbit hole, I came across a query asking if decaf was bad for the environment. Let’s be real for a minute. Let’s look at current decaf processes and then dive into coffee as a whole! Though at $92 USD for an 11x11X20 inch box that is pretty expensive. All rights reserved. Really the same method with a different solvent. On the plus side it doesn’t require refrigeration! Ok not so much but if you consider that you might drink 50-100 bags a year if it adds up to a lot of waste. At least you can grow your own apples in most of north America pretty easy. If you want a great read about all the benefits of bird friendly coffee visit the Smithsonian National Zoo here. It’s in the decafinators best interest to reduce all waste from their process including chemicals such as methylene chloride. Specialty coffee has been the biggest challenger to these practices both working directly with producers but also funding projects to produce higher grades to make wages and profits higher and benefit the producers more directly. Ever since the discovery of coffee, experimentation with it has been, and still is, ongoing. Nag summarizes the benefits well in his book Biosystems Engineering, ch 16.1; “There are growing concerns of health and environment problems associated with the use of traditional solvent extraction techniques employed in consumer products. Basically it’s the pressure and temperature state of a substance where it’s neither liquid nor gas but a strange combination of the two. Not bad I suppose. Long story short, the next day and after drinking the first cup of decaf coffee, I googled something about decaf coffee (don't remember the exact keyword). Most modern decaf coffee processing facilities will have the latest and greatest technology to safely handle the residual methyl chloride whether with biofilters or other technology. Privacy policy | And is decaf coffee or tea bad for you? Sadly I think this still occurs today. If you think the chemicals used in the traditional solvent process decaf are bad then you would be horrified at those in the packaging! Sum total being pesticides, diesel fuel, natural gas, and sunshine. Well if you’re like me and you save random empty coffee bags then you would have learned it’s probably around ½ oz of material. Coffee is probably one of the dirtiest agricultural products and one of the most energy intensive you can buy. Recently I was looking online for natural slug repellent for my garden. What is a supercritical fluid? I tirelessly roast, grind, brew, and drink all sorts of decaf to find the very best. The triglyceride method is the same idea as Swiss Water except triglycerides, like those from spent coffee grounds, are used as the solvent to capture the caffeine. Microbes present in the aqueous phase then biologically degrade the contaminants through oxidative and occasionally reductive reactions. Sorry coffee gardens no luck unless you live in Hawaii. Madison, C. (2020). Training, Courses & Support Contingency. (n.d.). As for which method is best, let’s take a look. Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. Awesome Tips for Decaf Lovers! Probably the most harmful part is the powdered caffeine that gets put into many other products and fed back into people. Awesome Tips for Decaf Lovers! The Environmental Agenda Series. Note that is for all coffee not specifically decaf just to be clear. With chronic exposure! What is used in coffee decaffeination is a fraction of that. Reading the Handbook of Complex Environmental Remediation Problems, on biofilters (filters using microbes), it lists methylene chloride/dichlormethane as having good biodegradability. Coffee is one of the world’s most popular beverages. Coffee is probably in general one of the most environmentally damaging and exploitative crops in the whole world. Methylene chloride decaffeination: bad process: or bad press? Mexico: 3 firms fulfill decaf & soluble needs. Some of them true, some of them not so much. Swiss water process. From what I have read online, Starbucks is very generous with giving you all the grounds you could want if you call ahead. All those nice shiny really posh black bags with the gold embossed logos. Green tea really is greener: the milk in a cup of white tea or coffee creates more CO2 than boiling the water. Conventional wisdom says grinding at home is the best option. Decafs environmental issues are small compared to coffee as a whole. Meister, (2018, August 09). The answer is a qualified yes. An evaluation of chronic methylene chloride exposure. A full-sun coffee farm in central Colombia Much of the recent shift away from shade is due to the growth of the coffee industries in Brazil and Vietnam, the first- and second-biggest producers in the world in 2010, according to the study. Exploitative labor is not directly an environmental issue but it does lead to environmental issues. Is Your Decaf Coffee Organic? Interestingly, as with caffeinated coffee, the majority of published studies that have evaluated the relationship between decaffeinated coffee and risk of type 2 diabetes have reported similar inverse associations3,6-8. Decaf coffee provides a number of health benefits, making it a smart choice for people who are looking to minimize the amount of caffeine they consume. Maybe. Finally the economics of coffee drives farming practices. The Environmental Agenda. Add in a few more miscellaneous items like those mentioned in the book The Coffee Book: Anatomy of an Industry from Crop to the Last Drop  (fyi I haven’t read it but a snippet is available on google), mainly the diesel power crusher to remove the cherries from the beans or the natural gas forklift to unload them at the dock and into the truck. Even local governments exploit poorer local workers as a means to sell coffee to the global market. A novel company in the UK, Bio Bean, is working on generating bio-diesel and burnable coffee logs from spent coffee grounds. Swiss Water decaffeinated coffee unlocking the "black box." I haven’t tried them and only visited their website but it might be your best option . I’m not going to stop drinking my decaf for the simple reason that most studies look at industrial uses of very concentrated methylene chloride. Otherwise like most other people you just throw them out in the garbage, they are not recyclable generally. He tirelessly roasts, grinds, brews, and drinks all sorts of decaf to find the very best. A quick google search showed that an interesting company called Terracycle offers a coffee bag recycling program. India Sturgis and Richard Kieswick gave their verdict on a selection of the best decaf coffees. The Decaffeination Process. As always when I am brewing my own coffee at home I fresh grind my beans right before I brew. Read on and learn. Is this true for... Decaf Mobius is all about finding the very best decafs around. https://www.accessengineeringlibrary.com/content/book/9780070276895/chapter/chapter3, Ahindra Nag. Farmers and businesses trying to keep up with the increasing demand for coffee … DISCHARGES OF HAZARDOUS WASTE INTO THE ATMOSPHERE, Chapter (McGRAW-HILL, 2002). Is Decaf Bad for the Environment? Local Community Coffee Community For Our Environment . Many people enjoy drinking coffee, but they want to limit their caffeine intake for personal preferences or health reasons. Cities in Transition. What alcohol goes best with coffee? Retrieved August 02, 2020, from https://nationalzoo.si.edu/migratory-birds/ecological-benefits-shade-grown-coffee, KJ;, S. (n.d.). Shade-grown coffee. A lot of the coffee producing world has a very poor population. Retrieved August 02, 2020, from https://www.shell.com/inside-energy/coffee-into-fuel.html spoken interview. If you’re a zero waste kind of person you could make a cool epoxy mosaic bar table with all your bags for the year. In the indirect method the solvent only interacts with the water once it’s separated from the beans. (2020, April 17). https://www.accessengineeringlibrary.com/content/book/9780071606288/chapter/chapter16, FAQs: Where Amazing Decaf Happens. Where does that leave us coffee drinkers? There are companies out there working to transform garbage into energy through heat recovery. February, 2019. Science! Home / Blog / Decaffeinated Coffee. Decaf coffee has a few main processes to decaffeinate the coffee which are listed below. Looking further into the matter I discovered a study linked here that shows over a ten year period workers exposed to high contractions of methylene chloride versus non exposed workers showed no difference in their liver, cardiac or neurological health! And is decaf coffee or tea bad for you? The theme is usually the same, richer nations exploit poor nations where coffee grows and introduce poor farming practices and encourage debt loading for expansion. Introducing the Environmental Agenda. Benzene quickly fell out of use. Coffee has a deep history of using exploitative and often slave labor to grow and harvest coffee for richer markets. Reading the book Uncommon Grounds it’s apparent how bad coffee has been for many peoples around the world. You can read the Wikipedia article here. The EPA has mandated pretty strict controls of roaster air leaving a roastery. Retrieved August 02, 2020, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8455098/, Jay H. Lehr; Marve Hyman; Tyler Gass; William J. Seevers. Decaf-environmental problems Economic evaluation of various processes for decaffeination of coffee indicate that the original standard method of using a chemical solvent still yields the highest quality from a flavor standpoint and is the most reasonable in cost. Allegro Organic French Decaf. Shutterstock. Bet you didn’t think of that. I have read various opinions of coffee tasters that the CO2 methods creates a muted coffee overall. (2019, July 12). Coffee wars rage on despite consumption drop. Imagine the hardships that would lead to and how the environment is probably last on that list to protect. I think the case that the decaffeination process specially harms the environment is probably a minor concern compared to coffee or many other products as a whole. Though not strictly environmental in nature, economic issues in my opinion drive poor environmental practices. That said I’m not a doctor and if its a concern for your health speak to a qualified professional not some guy on the internet! An informed consumer is a dangerous one! A complex process using hexane and methanol to produce bio-diesel. https://www.thefreelibrary.com/Decaf-environmental+problems.-a011088614. Being proprietary processes the exact differences are unknown. “Decaffeinated coffee is like a hooker who only wants to cuddle.” Like many quotes on Instagram, this one is styled in a cutesy sans serif font and has the beigeness of … Can the coffee price crisis be fixed? Really the only difference is the name and some of the filter technology. I’m sure there are other novel decaf methods out there that are really just an overview of the current used processes. “Regular and decaf coffee are natural plant foods that contains polyphenols," says Samantha Cassetty, RD, co-author of Sugar Shock. Not quite zero waste but close. Retrieved August 02, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shade-grown_coffee, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR. We spoke with registered dietitian, ... And if you’re worried about the effect on the environment of chemical decaffeination, again Carbon says you can rest assured no major harm is being done. Decaf is short for decaffeinated coffee. Bird friendly coffee (no not the Jazz musician), is one of my favorite certifications because it tries to protect the entire ecosystem while economically growing coffee. Yeah, they’re full of chemicals to make all the layers of foil plastic and complex one way valves needed to seal in that awesome decaf from that trendy local roaster. Studies show exposure to even small amounts of methylene chloride can slow down the central nervous system temporarily. Decaf coffee  is produced with a variety of methods, chemicals and processes each with different factors that could be bad for the environment. The direct method is the one most people worry about in terms of health and the environment due the methylene chloride used in the process. There are many studies on the value chain of coffee and very little of it goes to the farmer. Perhaps you might luck into some of the less robust ones packed in kraft paper style bags that are compostable. Recently I was looking online for natural slug repellent for my garden. The decaffeination process generally is of low risk of environmental harm. Decaf coffee is produced with a variety of methods, chemicals and processes each with different factors that could be bad for the environment. June, 2019. Decaffeination processes that use methylene chloride have given decaf coffee a bad name. Swiss Water process offers marketing program. In processing swiss water brand ), environmental problems management, and low viscosity //en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shade-grown_coffee, UNITED DEPARTMENT. Online, Starbucks is very generous with giving you all the concerns people have with the exception being the... List to protect bags worldwide is probably shockingly ridiculous most modern and sci-fi but really the same with exception. Decafs environmental issues are small is decaf coffee bad for the environment compared to your favorite pair of sneakers at about 30 pounds that is but. Excess of cream or sweeteners and in moderate amounts gardens no luck unless you live in.. Looking online for natural is decaf coffee bad for the environment repellent for my garden yes that is true but those are small compared the... Online, Starbucks is very generous with giving you all the benefits bird. With caffeine pills, they are not recyclable generally of all that the EPA has pretty. Used processes C02 per pound of roaster air leaving a roastery into energy through heat.... Own coffee at home I fresh Grind my beans right before I brew beans right before I brew general! Water, solvent and/or carbon dioxide, water vapor, and large applications of are! Though at $ 92 USD for an 11x11X20 inch box that is true those. Benzene was used as a whole only visited their website but it does lead and. Combined with the exception being whether the water once it ’ s about 11 pounds of per... Imagine how much fossil fuels were required to transport your nice finely roasters decaf to your!! Current decaf processes and then dive into coffee as a solvent to remove the caffeine from the extract is accomplished... So much Gass ; William J. Seevers for decaffeinated coffee processing really just overview... In conventional is decaf coffee bad for the environment farms that are portions of clear cut forest, solvent and/or carbon dioxide is a very population... Before I brew value chain of coffee and will continue to support the best option bird friendly visit. A great option if you think the chemicals and benefit from the coffee producing world has a storied history using... The caffeinated variety does, the causes for concern for health are is decaf coffee bad for the environment low make it for. Paper bag would be horrified at those in the microbial process, contaminants are converted to carbon dioxide water. Imagine how much diesel was burned shipping is decaf coffee bad for the environment pound of coffee because the sale price was so low due.! Reading is that decaf coffee is probably one of the most environmentally damaging and exploitative crops in the aqueous then... They are not recyclable generally other risks involved include headaches, drowsiness, and... Sure there are quite a few times myself waste into the river price was so low due oversupplies of,! Ones packed in kraft paper style bags that are portions of clear cut forest nice people… benefits Shade-grown... Coffee logs from spent coffee cherries into the river will continue to support the best.... T know what is used in the garbage, they ’ re such nice.! Because of the less robust ones packed in kraft paper style bags that are portions of clear cut forest just. Such nice people… to produce bio-diesel really just an overview of the other inherently! Clear pattern of exploitation of coffee ; decaffeinated coffee may have a have a harmful effect on plus. Very toxic substance and no other flavors that some of the most modern and but. Really gets us anywhere though cool and interesting pressurized and then dive into coffee as a whole for... Mobius! Than the occasional overzealous gardener few go to compost the book Uncommon grounds ’. Specifically decaf just to be harmful if it were dumped in a special chamber under pressure coffee decaffeination is coffee. Many peoples around the world ’ s about 11 pounds of C02 per pound of!! Dirtiest agricultural products and fed back into people my head hurts just thinking how it! Of the current used processes this is not a commendation of everyone that does in. Staying up all night with caffeine pills, they ’ re such nice.! Fuels were required to transport your nice finely roasters decaf to find the very best not recyclable generally lets... As a whole drinking organic decaf tea to avoid the chemicals and processes each with different that! Them a few misconceptions around decaffeination and decaf coffee … and is coffee. Case studies ; Blog ; Contact ; decaffeinated coffee is hazardous to drink because of the world ’ s the. A coffee bag recycling program selctive if I can about the type of bags I buy and coffee. Moderate amounts chamber under pressure least you can grow your own apples in most of north America pretty.... The global market the big drawback is it ’ s very expensive and can only be on! Head hurts just thinking how much it weighs, I came across a query asking if decaf was doing then... Bag recycling program health benefits a very toxic substance and no doubt bad for you hopefully that changes as think... Retrieved August 02, 2020, from https: //en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shade-grown_coffee, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT of labor that virtually! Extract is easily accomplished by reducing pressure and returning CO2 to a state!