How is decaffeinated coffee made?

Caffeine-free coffee is an invention of the German chemist Ludwig Roselius from the year 1901. This procedure has been used for over 100 years, therefore we want to explain it to you in this article.

Since the ingenious method of the German scientist is very straight forward, it is still used today almost exactly as it was, when it was first invented.


For decaffeinated coffee, the green coffee is placed in a steam bath to “open” up the beans before washing them with dichloromethane. The water used for washing which contains all substances of the coffee is then filtered. The now caffeine-free water is taken up again by the beans in a further washing process,before all chemical substances are removed by a last steam bath.

This process has almost always been used since its development. However, there has been an alternative since the 1970s-80s: the so-called “Swiss process”.

Swiss water process

This process was developed by the Swiss company Coffex S.A. and uses a decaffeinating method for which only water is used and no solvents. In this case the coffeine is removed from the beans by percolation through charcoal.

The beans are then reunited with the hot water and reabsorb the caffeine-free substances.

Author: Simone Celli,