How decaf coffee is made at Descamex

A few weeks ago, we took a trip to Mexico and visited our friends at Descamex in Cordoba City, Veracruz. They were kind enough to tour us around and share how decaf coffee is made at Descamex.

Descamex is a coffee decaffeination company that has been a close partner our ours for over 20 years. They are also responsible for decaffeinating a large portion of our Royal Select line of water processed decafs.

Descamex coffee plant in Cordoba City, Veracruz

What is a Royal Select?

Are you familiar with our Royal Select line of decaf coffee? Royal Selects are exclusive high quality lots of green coffee that our team selects to get decaffeinated. For this, we rely on a trustworthy partner, capable of producing the best quality decaffeinated coffee possible. We also need a partner who can efficiently get our coffee back to us. Descamex really nails that on both fronts.

How decaf coffee is made at Descamex

Descamex coffee warehouse in Cordoba City, Veracruz

Descamex uses a method of decaffeinating coffee that they’ve named Mountain Water Process (or MWP). In this process, beans are soaked in a proprietary, organically derived solution that is designed to use reverse osmosis in order to remove over 99% of the caffeine from coffee. The solution contains all the chemical compounds that make up coffee except for one: caffeine. The idea is that the solution is so inundated with these compounds that there isn’t any more room for anything but the caffeine to be extracted.

In order to do this, Descamex starts by identifying the correct solution to use for each specific origin and region. Coffee is very much the product of its environment and things like soil composition, climate, altitude, and even pollinators have a big impact on the chemical makeup of the coffee. Because of this, the Mountain Water solution must be saturated with the correct set of chemical compounds for a given region. For example, a solution designed for a coffee from Nariño, Colombia can only be used on Colombian coffees from that specific region. This process allows for the coffee beans to retain the majority of their integrity and flavor throughout the decaffeination process. Because of this, it’s also capable of improving cup quality in low quality coffees!

How decaf coffee is made: Descamex Mountain Water Process

The first step in decaffeinating via the Decamex Mountain Water Process is steaming the beans. This step makes the coffee beans soft and porous in preparation for soaking. From there, the coffee beans go through multiple rounds of soaking in its respective specific chemical solution.

Once the beans have had their caffeine extracted, it’s time to dry them again. At this point, the goal is to get their moisture content to between 10% and 12%. There are 3 different types of dryers the beans move through over the next 24 hours. The first is a heated drum that rotates the beans for even drying. Then, they’re moved to a vibrating bed that agitates the beans while pulling air past them. Finally, the beans are moved to a tall vertical dryer. This dryer pulls the beans up to the top, then drops them repeatedly to let gravity do the work for the last bit.

Once fully dry, the coffee beans are sent through a sort of dry mill that sorts them for defects and removes excess chaff. This second sorting phase is a big part of why Mountain Water Processed decafs arrive so clean.

Finally, the last step in the Descamex Mountain Water Process is testing. Coffee samples are brought to a lab where their caffeine content is are measured. At the Descamex lab, they make sure that the level of caffeine falls below their level of tolerance, less than .01%. As long as it does, the coffee is ready to make its way to us!

Caffeine crystals from decaffeinated coffee at Descamex

Did you know that the extracted caffeine from coffee is then filtered out of the solution, leaving behind caffeine crystals? These caffeine crystals are then sold off and used in soda and energy drinks.

Shop Trader MWP Decaf Picks from Descamex

Descamex has been a fantastic partner to us over the years and we’re happy to have somebody as solid as them to help maintain the quality we aim for out of our Royal Select line.

Colombia Royal Select MWP Decaf

This water processed Colombian decaf is well balanced and sweet. In the cup, we found notes of milk chocolate and citrus, with a sugary finish.

Shop RNY # 53192

Mexico Royal Select MWP Decaf

This water processed Mexican decaf is rich and warm. In the cup, we found notes of silky chocolate, warm spices and sugary fig.

Shop RNY # 52963

Sumatra Royal Select MWP Decaf

This water processed Sumatran decaf is big bodied and robust. In the cup, we found notes of dark chocolate and licorice root with a pleasantly earthy finish.

Shop RNY # 51061