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No Toxic Chemical Residue w/ Carbon Dioxide Decaffeinated Coffee

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Your favorite decaf could very well have a toxic residue. That's right, the most common method used to decaffeinate coffee is not necessarily the best.

Not all decaffeination methods are equal. Three different methods are commonly used to decaffeinate coffee. It is to the advantage of the consumer to be aware of what they are and how they can affect health.

Methylene Chloride and Ethyl Acetate

Methylene Chloride was originally discovered by a scientist who was searching for a way to decaffeinate coffee because he thought his father's ill health was the result of his coffee drinking. After much research he found that the chemical Methylene Choride would extract coffee from coffee beans. However, in the 1980's speculation arose of Methylene Chloride being a carcinogen. Since that time, the FDA has set limits on how much residue of this chemical can be present on coffee after treatment. However, some people do not trust these guidelines and search for more natural decaffeination methods.
Ethyl Acetate can seem to an answer to this dilemma. Since this chemical structure is present in some fruits, many coffee companies may label their coffee as 'Naturally Decaffeinated'. However, due to cost this chemical is man made (replicated) for this purpose. Since ethyl acetate is more expensive than methylene chloride, it is usually only used in its place if the particular coffee is to marketed as 'natural'.

Decaffeinating Coffee with Carbon Dioxide

Coffee decaffeinated with CO2 is currently the rarest to find, but it is worth the search. With this method, the all natural carbon dioxide is used to bind with the caffeine, thus removing it from the coffee. The coffee is left so flavorful that some taste tests have proven that it is almost indistinguishable from regular caffeinated coffee!
This method leaves absolutely no chemical residue on the bean. Also, when CO2 is used, nothing is wasted. The carbon dioxide itself can be reused to decaffeinate other batches of coffee, and the caffeine that is extracted is sold to soft drink companies and drug companies.
The CO2 method is not currently a common practice in the industry because the method takes special equipment and skill. It is also more expensive to decaffeinate coffee this way, but many are willing to pay the higher price. For this reason, and because of the superior flavor, it is expected that this method will eventually become mainstream. For the time being, be sure that the label specifically states that it is decaffeinated with carbon dioxide (CO2).
JoyfulLivingServices.com, "Decaffeinated & Flavored Coffee - Good or Bad?", 9-29-10
TheFreeLibrary.com, "The ins and outs of CO2 decaffeination.", 9-29-10
SweetMarias.com, "CO-2 Decaf Method", 9-29-10
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