Does Your Decaf Coffee Come With a Side Of Paint Thinner?


I love my morning coffee!

Lots of times, I like to have another hit after my workout.  A few years ago, In an effort to be healthier, I started drinking half-caf.  What I learned from my son was that I could be drinking the same chemicals that are used for paint thinner!

When my son Nick was in college, he took a course called “The  Economics Of Coffee” (for which I probably paid a couple of thousand dollars!).  His professor said one of the most toxic foods on the market is commercial decaffeinated coffee.  I thought, “That couldn’t possibly be true.  The USDA wouldn’t allow such a thing.”  ( I used to be naive that way.) I assumed the professor was just trying to impress his students with alarmist statements.  But since I drank a lot of decaf,  I decided to research it for myself.  What I learned will really surprise you, considering how many people drink decaf coffee every day.  The professor wasn’t exaggerating!  Keep reading….

heisenbergcoffeeAccording to the specialty foods website, “After tobacco and cotton, conventionally-produced coffee is the third most heavily-chemically treated crop in the world. Not only are some of the synthetic pesticides and fertilizers used banned in most western nations; they’re often used without any genuine regulatory supervision.”


Regular commercial coffees:  In order to strip the caffeine from the bean, many brands use what is called the “direct process,” which uses the chemical methyl chloride.  According to, methyl chloride is “used in various industrial processes, in many different industries including paint stripping, pharmaceutical manufacturing, paint remover manufacturing, and metal cleaning and degreasing… OSHA considers methylene chloride to be a potential occupational carcinogen.”  It is also used as a refrigerant, and of course, to strip caffeine from your coffee. Methyl chloride is preferred over other chemicals because it leaves most of the flavor intact.  The EPA monitors employees’ exposure to methyl  chloride very carefully, but FDA regulations consider up to 10 parts per million to be safe for consumption.  Yup.


Organic Coffees:  According to, the only two processes that can be labeled Certified Organic are the “natural process” and the “water process.”  The natural process removes the caffeine using the plant hormone ethyl acetate or carbon dioxide.  Ethyl acetate is present in fruits and wines.  The water process uses no chemical agents, just pure H2O.  The beans are soaked in hot water for a designated period of time, and the caffeine leaches out.  While organic coffees are gaining in popularity, they can be very hard to find in the grocery store.

Higher Prices. Will you pay more for organic coffee? Yes, almost certainly.  In a pinch, I paid $15.99 for the decaffeinated Organic Vermont Coffee Company shown above.  But at least I know what’s not in it!

What do you think?  Do you think organically-decaffeinated coffee is worth the extra money?