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What Is Swiss Water Decaf Coffee?

Read time: 3 mins
A bag of Sumatra Swiss Water Decaf being held up by a hand.
Christopher C. Jul 27, 2021

Okay, so we think it's time we level with you about a certain kind of coffee that not everyone agrees with. Some love it, some reel in disgust, some even get slanderous tattoos about it. Like, tattoos are forever, bro. Are you sure about this?

Obviously, we're talking about the champagne of decaffeination, the Swiss Water Process.

What is Swiss Water Process Coffee?

These decafs differ from their more traditionally decaffeinated bros because they employ pure water instead of harsh chemicals (like ethyl acetate or methylene chloride) to gently remove caffeine. One of the biggest downsides of decaf coffee—likely one of the reasons people shy away from it—is that chemical decaffeination can result in a chemically tasting, lackluster cup. Not so with Swiss Water, my friend.

A stack of decaf Mexican pods on a serving board next to a coffee brewer and loose coffee grounds.

Our favorite thing about Swiss Water decaf is how it doesn't taste like decaf. What? Take Organic Mexican Swiss Water Decaf for instance. It's got big flavor, a mild body, and notes of cocoa and walnut, none of which is impeded by its lack of caffeine. No more compromising or settling for less than you deserve. You deserve flavorful decaf. Your coffee should give you the confidence to look a caffeine junkie right in the eye. And maybe share a cup to show them what Swiss Water's all about.

We have a theory. It might be unpopular, so have mercy. Water-processed decaf drinkers might be the true coffee connoisseurs because they're tasting the coffee for everything that it is. Think about it. Why do a lot of people drink coffee? It makes us move. It peps us up. Decaf doesn't make you feel like you're exploding, so decaf drinkers must really love the taste.

Theories aside, the Swiss Water Process is a modern marvel, so let's walk through each step.

How Is Swiss Water Process Decaf Made?

Swiss Water Process Infographic. Courtesy of Swiss Water Decaffeinated Coffee Inc. All rights reserved.
  1. Step 1: Water, Water Every Where

    The entire process uses only two components, and the first is water. To prep the beans and remove any unwanted baggage (i.e., dust or chaff), the beans are soaked in pure water until they reach a certain moisture content, at which point they're removed and moved on to the next step.

  2. Step 2: The Not-So-Secret Ingredient

    In addition to pure water, Swiss Water utilizes their proprietary Green Coffee Extract (GCE) to help draw only the caffeine out of green coffee. Per Swiss Water, GCE is a solution of "fresh water and all the soluble solids within coffee (minus the caffeine)." In the span of 8 - 10 hours, a caffeine imbalance occurs as the GCE circulates around the beans, which causes the caffeine to diffuse into the GCE.

  3. Step 3: Refresh and Reuse

    Once the beans lose 99.9% of their caffeine, the GCE is recycled. The GCE passes through a carbon filter, leaving the caffeine molecules behind to be burned off by a regeneration furnace, says Swiss Water, constantly checking the GCE's efficacy.

  4. Step 4: It's Up to You (or Us)

    After the newly decaffeinated beans are dried, they're bagged and shipped to roasters all over. We're so lucky to be one of them. From there, the bean is in your court. You can choose to roast your Swiss Water decaf yourself or have us roast it. Whichever you choose, you can be certain you're getting a full-flavored, full-bodied cup of coffee that's 99.9% caffeine-free, compared to the 97% achieved in most chemical decaffeination.


But the Swiss Water magic doesn't stop there.

What About Swiss Water Half-Caf?

Say you're trying to cut down on caffeine but still want that little energy boost. Our Swiss Water half-caf coffees are 50/50 blends of a single coffee: half full-caf, half decaf. Organic Mexican Swiss Water Half-Caf is literally made with equal parts Organic Mexican and Organic Mexican Swiss Water Decaf. Not trying to give away any industry secrets or anything, that's just what it is. Half-caf coffee gives you all the taste with half the caffeine, which is easier on the stomach and won't wind you up quite as much.

So, let's retire "Death Before Decaf." Decaf has come a long way since Ludwig Roselius spiked his beans with benzene in the early 1900s and sold Sanka to the masses, since the first orange-handled coffee pot hit restaurants in 1932, and even since the tail-end of the 1970s when the Swiss Water Process was invented! Swiss Water decaf coffee is nothing to be afraid of. It might even be the best coffee you've ever had.


  • BB
    Bev Bemis

    Love the Swiss water decaf Colombian . So good ! My fav coffee .

  • MR
    Mary Rizza

    These coffees are great and full of robust flavor, even the decaf and half and half Swiss water Sumatra. I only drink Sumatra as my GI tract handles this without any upset. Other brands of Sumatras cause stomach discomfort but not the FRESH ROASTED coffee. I keep the hi test on hand to serve company and sometimes mix with with the half and half…..blends nicely.

  • JR
    june robbs

    the 1/2 and 1/2 sumatra swiss H2O was delish on my first order using my french press and grinding by hand. I usually only do decaf swiss ….the extra caffeine gave me a little buzz but not too bad. anxious to try the Mexican one recommended. please instruct on how to use the pour over stainless funnel for a change.

  • CL
    Chuck Lee

    I’ve tried at least half a dozen swiss water decafs from Fresh Roasted and they all fell flavorless. We still purchase and brew the generic Columbian Decaf. My wife enjoys it with cream and a touch of cinnamon. I drink high test of which my custom Columbian/Dark Brazil/Guatemala blend rocks me through my day! Thanks FRC for fantastic coffee!

  • SP
    Stephanie Powell

    Because of this process I can continue to drink coffee! I was going to have stop drinking my favorite beverage since the caffeine was making my heart race. My anxiety has been crazy lately but I just couldn’t bring myself to cutting out coffee. I decided to try swiss water decaf and I was beyond thrilled. It tastes so much better than the “other” decaf and just as good, maybe even better than caffeinated coffee! No longer a decaf hater!

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