Water Process Decaffeination
Water process decaffeination uses no chemicals to extract the caffeine from the coffee beans. Rather, it relies on solubility and osmosis to remove the caffeine and preserve flavor.
First, a batch of green beans are immersed in a tank of very hot water. This dissolves and extracts the caffeine and other solids from the coffee. The resulting solution is then passed through a filter that catches the larger caffeine molecules, and allows the desirable components to pass through, leaving a flavor-rich solution. This first batch of flavorless beans are discarded.
A new batch of coffee beans is added to the hot, flavor-rich, and caffeine-free solution. Since the other solids are already present in the solution, only the caffeine moves from the beans into the solution. The solution is filtered to remove the caffeine and the cycle repeats until the beans are 99.9% caffeine free by mass. This process takes 8-10 hours to complete.
The following video shows the Swiss Water process, which is very similar to how Royal decaffeinates: