This is a quick review of Case Study Coffee Roasters’ El Paternal decaf coffee, which you can buy directly from them (use the phone) for $16.75/bag. Finca El Paternal is a coffee farm located in Guatemala and this coffee was decaffeinated using Swiss Water Process.
As you would expect, this method of decaffeination uses water, and no chemicals (the ones used in traditional decaffeinating are nothing you would every knowingly consume), to remove 99.9% of the caffeine from coffee. Unlike it’s name, though, this process happens in British Colombia rather than in Switzerland! You can read all about the company and the process on Swiss Water’s website linked to above. What you need to know is that SWP coffees have 2-6mg of caffeine in each cup whereas the same size cup of coffee typically contains 120-180mg of coffee.
Even though SWP uses water and not chemicals, the decaffeinating process is still hard on coffee beans. I’ve roasted SWP decafs myself before and they are tough to roast. They get really dark in color, even if they are considered light roasts, and it takes a lot of care on the roaster’s part to make sure the coffee gets fully developed throughout the seed without incinerating the outside or leaving the inside raw.
Decaf coffee takes a bit of a beating in the flavor department, too, but I’ve found that if the roaster does a great job with SWP beans that the coffees are hard to distinguish from their fully caffeinated brethren. I have not yet had the opportunity to cup the same coffee in both its caffeinated and decaffeinated form, though.
This particular Guatemalan coffee from Case Study is a nice, easy drinker for those looking for an after-dinner cup or someone who has medical reasons to avoid caffeine. Personally I have a pretty low limit of how much caffeine I can drink in a day, particularly after about noon, so it’s great to have a well-roasted, tasty option, if you ask me!
This coffee has a nice balance with some nondescript fruitiness and acidity, but it definitely leans toward sweet rather than bright and acidic. It’s a pretty simple, pretty straightforward cup (which I prepared as pourover in my Gino dripper) with nice body and toasty, nutty flavors. I caught a few hints of berries in this coffee and it stayed consistently enjoyable throughout its cooling.
My tasting notebook finished with, “Easy to drink, nice and soft” and I have enjoyed my small sample bag from Case Study. With choices available like this, it’s possible to have the specialty coffee experience without the buzz, which is nice!