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What is the Mountain Water Process?

Posted by Meera Nair on

Why do people drink decaf coffee? Is it even safe to drink decaf coffee? Doesn’t decaf coffee taste bland?

The general consensus so far may have been that decaf coffee is a poor imitation of coffee but all hope is not lost. There’s still light at the end of the tunnel!

Since the past few years, there’s been a steady growth in the decaf coffee market, and now, a report by Infinium Global Research estimated a 7% CAGR growth by 2028. It’s safe to say that there are better days ahead for those in the decaf coffee business.

Now, why are we talking about all of this after only recently exploring what decaf coffee is and some common myths about it?

The next step in appreciating decaf coffee is alleviating your doubts about the process itself. 

When you think of decaf coffee, you probably wonder just how much the coffee beans are processed to strip the caffeine away from them. 

Perhaps, even the word decaffeination makes you think of something complex and unappealing.

But the Mountain Water Process is far from it. Let’s take a look at how it works!

How Does the Mountain Water Process Work?

The Mountain Water Process is a chemical-free technique for making decaf coffee. It originated in Mexico and uses water from a mountain called Pico de Orizaba.

how does mountain water process work

That’s right. Your coffee beans go through mountain water. How much more organic can the decaf process get?

First, green beans are soaked in hot water or steamed so that the pores on the beans open up, priming them for decaffeination.

Once this is done, beans are placed in the water from the mountains. What happens here is that the water absorbs the caffeine as well as the flavour compounds in the beans. 

This water is run through a filter that takes away just the caffeine and leaves all the oils, sugars, and other flavour acids intact. 

At the end of the Mountain Water Process is the step that ensures your decaf coffee still retains the flavour of the origins and does not have a bland taste.

This soluble-charged water is used in the extraction process. The next batch of green beans, when soaked, will only be rid of caffeine compounds as the water is already saturated with flavour compounds so it still retains the aroma, tastes and other flavour aspects.

Finally, these beans are dried and shipped to the coffee roaster.

The cell structure of the beans gets changed through this process, making them somewhat lighter. Coffees that have gone through the Mountain Water Process tend to have a clean taste and a solid body. 

Is it Different From the Swiss Water Process?

is it the same as swiss water process

The Swiss Water Process gets its name, not because of the origins of the water used in this method but because it was developed in Switzerland. It was first formulated in the 1930s and commercialised a few decades later.

The Descamex plant is where the Mountain Water Process is done, and the Swiss Water Process takes place in a plant in Canada using water from the coastal mountains there.

Apart from the location or the origins of the water used, there isn’t any significant difference in the process itself.

Even the Swiss Water Process uses soluble-charged water (commonly known as green coffee extract) to remove caffeine from green beans. 

One thing to take note of is that the Swiss Water Process is known to be criticised because the process often makes use of the same GCE to process different batches of coffee, and this can sometimes interfere with the origin flavours of the beans.

This trademarked process that uses glacier water from the highest mountain in Mexico is easily one of the best ways to make decaf coffee. 

It’s the process we use in our Beancraft decaf blend, which we’ve named Orizaba, after the mountain.

With notes of dark chocolate, raisin, and almonds, it’s a must-try, even if you’ve never considered drinking decaf before.

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