Sugar cane ethyl acetate (E.A.) processing, also commonly referred to as natural decaffeinated, starts by fermenting molasses derived from sugar cane to create ethanol. This alcohol is then mixed with acetic acid, to create the compound ethyl acetate.
In Colombia, where sugar cane is readily available, it makes great economic sense to use this plentiful resource to complement the coffee industry. E.A. is also found in wine, beer, fruit, vegetables, and other food and beverage.
When the coffee is received it is first submitted to a condition of water and steam. This elevates the moisture contained and swells the bean in order to facilitate the extraction of caffeine. It is at this point, that the bean experiences an E.A. wash, which dissolves the caffeine. The beans are then cleaned with water, followed by steam, to clean the innermost portions of the bean. Finally, the beans are dried until reaching the moisture similar to which they had prior to the process.
This method avoids excessive heat or pressure, which can radically disrupt a green bean's cellular structure. One downside of this process is that since the pores of the seed are opened up through steaming, the coffee does tend to age more quickly (both as roasted and green) than our regular offerings. You may even see the occasional "sweat" on the roasted bean within several days of roast. In non-decaffeinated coffee, this typically occurs many more days after roast.