Did you know that coffee is always decaffeinated before its roasted? There are a few main methods to removing the caffeine from the beans.
First the yucky method: The traditional/cheap decaffeination process was invented in 1906 and involves steaming the coffee beans with acids or bases to open the pores of the coffee bean and then using a solvent such as dichloromethane the caffeine is extracted. Yummy, right?
The second method - called Swiss Water Process - uses water and osmosis to remove the caffeine by soaking the coffee in hot water and running the water through filters. This process is performed several times and there are no chemicals!
The third method uses natural EA (ethyl acetate) - This is a similar process as the traditional chemical method in that they open the pores of the coffee but instead of chemicals they use natural occurring alcohols and naturally occurring acetic acid that they make from sugar cane.
There is also the Mexico water process which is similar to Swiss water. The advantage of these two methods is they can be done at the coffee producing country instead of shipping the coffee to a decaf processor which leaves more money in the producing country.
Of course we don't purchase any coffees that have been processed using the first method described above!