The decaffeination process occurs before roasting, when the coffee is still green. Van Houtte® purchases green coffee decaffeinated using two different methods. The decaffeination methods used for Van Houtte® products remove 99.9% of the caffeine from the beans. The beans are soaked and steamed to make them porous, and then a natural (water) or chemical (water and ethyl acetate) solvent is added to remove the caffeine. These two processes are recognized by Health Canada and the U.S. FDA.
Van Houtte® decaffeinated coffees, part of the Classic collection, are decaffeinated using ethyl acetate. In the U.S., ethyl acetate is considered a natural method because it is naturally found in the skin of fruits.
The Van Houtte® Swiss Water Process Fair Trade Organic Decaf coffee uses the Swiss Water process. This process only uses water to remove the caffeine. It involves a long soak in spring water, which is then stripped of its caffeine by percolation through activated charcoal. The beans are then soaked again and reabsorb the caffeine-free flavor constituents from the water