Sugar Cane Decaf is Here!

After months of waiting we've finally got more decaf in Hampden for your drinking pleasure!

Decaf is an interesting beast. It's customary in the coffee business to be dismissive of decaf because "it's not real" because it doesn't have caffeine - as though that's the only reason people drink coffee. It's our feeling though that the decaf drinker is one of the more special coffee enthusiasts, because if you're not drinking coffee for the caffeine, then you must be drinking coffee because you like it. I think this is where many companies fall down.

For us, finding a decaf worthy of inclusion on our menu is a difficult process. Most decaf processing methods require container-sized batches (40,000 pounds) to make it cost-effective. This means that most decaf coffees are made from cheap and low quality beans that are not very enjoyable to drink. The only thing that helps these rough-tasting coffees is that since the caffeine is stripped away, the bitterness of caffeine is also removed, leaving the coffee slightly sweeter.

So we look and look and look and look, trying to find a great decaf to offer. Sometimes we find it, other times we don't - and much of 2020 has been a bust. Until now.

One of our suppliers from Colombia procured for us Colombia Excelso using the Sugar Cane Decaffeination method. Excelso is an Arabica coffee and is a grading terms used to describe exportable coffee from Colombia. The beans are on the larger size with a screen size of 15-16.

Sugar Cane Decaf is also known as "Sugar Cane E.A." The "E.A." stands for Ethyl Acetate and many people want to use just the abbreviation because they fear that the public with think it's some sort of artificial chemical process. This is not the case.

Everyone knows sugar. That white granular sugar you find on the table - that's pure cane sugar. It is completely refined. Then there's "Sugar In The Raw" aka Demerara Sugar that has a bit of brown in it. That brown is the natural molasses in the sugar cane. Refining sugar requires removal of that molasses. It is this molasses that is fermented to derive ethanol. From there the ethanol is mixed with acetic acid to create Ethyl Acetate.

To decaffeinate, the green coffee is steamed at low pressure for 30 minutes to open the bores of the coffee beans. Once swelled to the proper moisture level, the coffee is soaked in a solution of water and Ethyl Acetate and recirculated multiple times until 97% of the caffeine has been removed. The coffee is steamed a second time to evaporate any remaining Ethyl Acetate and the coffee's moisture level is returned to 10-12% via vacuum drying drums. From there, the coffee is mechanically polished to protect against environmental humidity.

Finally, the coffee is roasted at our Sproastery in Cockeysville to a lovely light medium to bring out the best flavor of the coffee. Be sure to come in and give it a try!

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