If you’re wondering what Swiss Water Decaf Coffee even is (what a mouthful eh?), then you are not alone. It’s likely that even the average Joe cannot tell how decaffeinated coffee is made, or which cuppa Joe is regular, and which is decaf. Such is the mystery of decaffeinated coffee that we will unravel in this article, and answer the question whether or not it’s safe for kids to drink.
How is Coffee Decaffeinated?
We know what you’re thinking: why would anyone commit such a heinous act? Well the thing is, not everyone can tolerate coffee, and it’s a shame that caffeine alone (the tasteless chemical compound that stimulates our nervous system) should stop anyone from enjoying some coffee.
It was in the early 1900s in Germany when decaf coffee first came into existence. An accidental discovery by a physician who believed his father died from overconsumption of coffee, he found that coffee beans soaked in salt water reduced its caffeine content. However, trace amounts of benzene were present which made it well… a cup of poison more than a cup of decaf coffee.
The realisation that caffeine is water soluble led more curious minds to tinker around in their makeshift laboratories (kitchen) by soaking coffee beans in water, and flushing it with chemicals to bond with the caffeine, leading to mostly decaffeinated coffee. It was not until decades later that the Swiss Water process was perfected, patented, and peddled out for public consumption.
What is Swiss Water Decaf Coffee?
To avoid getting too science nerdy on you, the Swiss Water process uses water, temperature, and time (10 hours!) to extract the caffeine from the green unroasted coffee beans. Without the pesky chemicals, this ensures that the flavour of the coffee beans remains intact, and removes 99.9% of the caffeine out. Sounds too good to be true? It took 40ish years to nail this method, so props Swiss Water.
Now for the science nerd version: Fresh coffee beans are added to green coffee extract (GCE), a solution made of water-soluble components of green coffee minus the caffeine. Do you recall learning about osmosis in science class? Well, the gradient pressure differences between the caffeine-rich and caffeine-poor solutions causes the caffeine molecules to move from the fresh coffee into the GCE. The now caffeine-rich GCE is passed through filters to remove the caffeine, and reintroduced to the fresh beans. This whole shebang is repeated for 8-10 hours until the fresh beans can barely remember their previously caffeinated identities. How cool is that?
What are the Other Sources of Caffeine?
The association between coffee and caffeine is ubiquitous. That might be why most of us don’t drink coffee until we’re in our late teens, or early adulthood, because coffee is rarely offered to little ones. However, it is less known that caffeine can be found in a variety of other sources, and we have in fact been caffeine-doping ourselves since childhood, unbeknownst to us or our folks.
An 8-oz cup of brewed coffee contains 95 mg of caffeine. A similar amount of black tea contains 47 mg, whereas green tea contains 28 mg. Most non-Swiss Water decaf coffee contains about 4 mg of caffeine. Okay, so coffee, decaf, and tea you can expect to contain caffeine. Fair enough. What about a 12-oz can of soda? About 40 mg. An ounce of dark chocolate? About 24 mg. Milk chocolate? 6 mg. A 16-oz serving of an energy drink? A whopping 170 mg. Let that sink in…
Should Kids Even Consume Caffeine?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests that children under age 12 should not consume any food or beverage with caffeine, whereas caffeine intake should not exceed 100 mg daily for adolescents. For adults, it's about 400 mg. Thanks for the advice guys, but reality check: which kid these days doesn’t have some kind of relationship with chocolate or soda?
Research is still unclear on the effect of decaf coffee on children's mood and physiology, but we know too much caffeine in children can cause increased anxiety, heart rate, blood pressure, acid reflux, and sleep disturbances. Thankfully, Canada has basic guidelines. The maximum daily caffeine intake for children under 12 should not exceed 2.5mg/kg of body weight. That’s about 45 mg for children aged 4-6, 62.5 mg for children aged 7-9, and 85 mg for children aged 10-12.
Is Swiss Water Decaf Coffee Safe for Kids?
If caffeine content has been your main concern, then rest assured, Swiss Water Decaf Coffee is essentially the world’s most deliciously flavoured water. If you are genuinely concerned about the safety of the food and beverages your kid is consuming, steer that critical eye towards Coke, Hershey's, or a Venti Skinny Hazelnut Frappuccino with extra syrup from Starbucks instead. If not, enjoy some Swiss Water Decaf Coffee with your little ones, best not before bedtime though!