I have been working in coffee for nearly 13 years now and one of the first things people say to me upon learning of my job role is ‘Oh I expect you steer well clear of Decaf’. And honestly, that was mostly the case for the first decade - not at all because I sat in the ‘death before decaf’ camp but more so because I was too busy exploring the galaxy of specialty coffee - and you just couldn’t do that as a decaf drinker, the choice didn’t exist.
Decaf readers of this blog post will know that most of the options out there are pretty disappointing in what they deliver in the cup - and that is before you get onto the questionable processing that exists, much of which relies upon chemical solvents to strip the caffeine from the beans.
It was in my previous role at Falcon where we excitedly imported the first C02 processed decaffeinated coffee from the CR3 plant in Germany - we nicknamed it the Sparkling Water Process and unsurprisingly, it really took off! This organically certified process uses no chemical (natural or unnatural) solvents (unlike the Methylene Chloride or Ethyl Acetate a.k.a Sugarcane Process), relying instead on naturally occurring carbon dioxide which is combined under pressure with water to create a highly solvent substance for caffeine. Not only is this process incredibly gentle to the overall profile of the coffee (maintaining many of the bean’s original characteristics), it also comes without the possible health impacts that have been linked to certain decaffeination processes.
Thankfully, when I became pregnant with our daughter, I at least had some way of maintaining my drinking relationship with coffee, albeit a slightly limited one! For a year, my morning routine switched from my usual mug (or two) of batch brew to a long black or flat white of whatever decaf offering we were featuring in the roastery. Don’t get me wrong, I was pretty blown away with the quality of the decaf we had to offer (at times double checking I had in fact not been served a caffeinated drink) but I certainly missed having the choice of what coffee to drink. At the end of the day, most of us at some point in our lives will come to a point where cutting down on caffeine feels like a good decision - be it for health reasons, breastfeeding/pregnancy, sleep quality or just personal preference. So surely the time has come for decaf to ditch its bad rep and take its rightful place amongst the specialty coffee crowd?!
Right from the get go, our decaf beans have been processed using the C02 Process but given the logistical constraints of importing coffee (to then export it back to Germany for decaffeination) we have been unable to take as much control over what we choose for our decaf offering as we are able to with our normal caffeinated offer list. It has really been a case of growing the volume of our decaf sales to a level that allows us to re-route some of our shipments to make the stop off in Germany en route to the UK.
Introducing Brazil Montanari Decaf
I am so delighted to say that finally we have got there. And we have done it with coffee from the longest standing partnership we have at North Star with Marcelo Montanari in Brazil. We have worked with Marcelo for 10 years now steadily growing our purchases year on year with his beans making up the base of our house blend (The Docks) and being our most popular single origin offering. They are wonderfully balanced with an almost ‘Snickers-esque’ character, plenty of chocolate and nuts delivering a beautifully sweet drinking experience. Happily, this decaffeinated version is just as good….genuinely! Leading with notes of hazelnut and butter, there is a character reminiscent of praline cream particularly when enjoyed with milk (dairy or non-dairy).
What’s more is we are releasing this alongside our existing offering from the Renacer project in El Salvador. So, decaf drinkers rejoice! For the first time, we are expanding our range to give you choice! And this is just the beginning - our intent is to continue on in this work to bring lowcaf/decaf blends to the range too.
So tell all your friends to get on board and join the ‘Love Decaf Club’ - say it loud say it proud, gone are the days where drinking decaf means drinking bad coffee!
Get Brazil Montanari Decaf here
Get El Salvador Renacer Decaf here