About EA Decaffeination.
Palmera decaf begins with the same Colombia Core Coffee Palmera Supremo beans grown on farms in the Huila region. The coffee is decaffeinated by the local company Descafecol SA, in the town of Palmira, Valle de Cauca, using the Ethyl Acetate (EA) process.
Ethyl acetate is produced by esterification between ethyl alcohol and acetic acid. The ethyl acetate used by Descafecol is produced by another local Colombian company, Sucroal SA, from sugarcane growing nearby. Sugarcane grows at lower elevations than coffee and is often planted at the base of the same mountains where coffee flourishes. Ethyl acetate and spring water are the only substances coffee comes into contact with during the decaffeination process. This process is FDA approved and the ethyl acetate produced by Sucroal is verified food grade, kosher, and halal.
Ethyl acetate is a natural solvent, meaning it can dissolve other substances. The EA process gently extracts the caffeine from coffee beans, avoiding the use of excessive heat that could damage the structure of the beans.
The EA process begins with a pretreatment step of steaming beans at a low pressure to remove silver skins. Coffee is then moistened with hot water to swell and soften the beans to catalyze the hydrolysis (the chemical breakdown of a substance due to reaction with water) of the caffeine, which is bonded to chlorogenic acid inside the coffee.
Coffee next passes to an extractor, where caffeine is removed by repeatedly washing with the natural solvent ethyl acetate. This process happens several times to complete the extraction stage, removing more than 97% of caffeine, per US standards.
Once caffeine extraction is complete, a flow of low-pressure steam is passed over coffee to strip residual ethyl acetate, leaving less than 5 ppm, which evaporates at 70°C once coffee beans are roasted.
Coffee, now decaffeinated and free from ethyl acetate, moves from the extractors to the vacuum drying drums to remove the water applied during the moistening step and adjust the final humidity of the beans to between 10-12%. Coffee is cooled to ambient temperature using fans and polished as the final step of post-treatment. Coffee is then ready to be packed and shipped as decaf, providing the full and delicious flavor of Colombian terroir to those sensitive to stimulants!