Coffee for breakfast is as American as apple pie, and millions of people enjoy coffee the world over at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In this age of health clubs and health awareness, there is a growing demand for gourmet decaf coffee. Is it even possible to consider decaf coffee gourmet? And is gourmet decaf coffee any better than your average run of the mill generic joe‘? These are all questions that every coffee aficionado should have satisfactory answers to.
In order to make a fair comparison between different grades of decaf coffee, you first must understand what it takes to make decaf coffee. Decaf coffee is essentially coffee made from coffee beans that have been treated before roasting and grinding to remove as much of the caffeine as possible. While if the process was perfect we wouldn’t be having this debate, the fact of the matter is that in the decaffeinating process coffee beans tend to lose some of their flavor. The amount and nature of the flavor loss depends on which method is utilized to remove the caffeine from the beans. The very act of dissolving the contents of the beans in a solvent to remove the caffeine is bound to extract some of the volatile substances that lend body and flavor your average cup of joe.
Taking all the above into consideration, your average cup of decaf coffee just does not measure up to its fully caffeinated counterpart. So, is there a big enough difference between your run of the mill decaf blend and decaf coffee that is labeled as gourmet? There is much room for interpretation when considering such an issue. First of all, the process used to decaffeinate both grades of coffee is typically the same. Also, the end product has similar substances removed. There is one possibly significant difference between the two. That difference is the quality of the bean used to make the particular type of decaf coffee. Decaf gourmet coffee should utilize a higher quality stock, and this quality should at least partly account for the aspects of flavor that is lost during the decaffeinating process. If you start with a superior bean, you typically should end with a superior coffee. So, while all decaf coffee blends will have something missing, a gourmet variety blend should have a lot of extra talent to make up for the losses.
In the end, choosing a decaf coffee is no simple task. You must understand the processes that every bean is subjected to before ever making it to the roaster, much less your cup. If you are bent on sticking to decaf coffee, then in order not to forfeit as much of that much loved flavor you may want to invest in a gourmet decaf coffee. Whether or not it is truly worth it is up to each individual to decide.
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