Process: Ethyl Acetate
Variety: Castillo, Caturra, Colombia
Altitude: 1400-2000 MASL
Located in southwestern Colombia, Huila is nestled in-between the Central and Eastern ranges of the Andes, with the middle area called the Magdalena Valley. The variation in elevation results in Huila being one of the country's most unique and complex regions of coffee production. Its terroir, climate, and harvest cycles all contribute to the quality of coffee produced here. The most impressive quality behind the coffees coming out of Huila lies in the people producing them. While Huila accounts for nearly 20% of the country's production, 80% of coffee producers operate on less than three hectares.
Ethyl acetate is an occurring ester (present in bananas and also as a by-product of fermented sugars) that is used as a solvent to bond with and remove caffeine from green coffee. First, the coffee is sorted and steamed for 30 minutes under low pressure in order to open the coffee seeds’ pores and prepare them for decaffeination. The coffee is placed in a solution of both water and ethyl acetate, where the E.A. will begin to bond with the salts of chlorogenic acids inside the seeds. The tank will be drained and re-filled over the course of eight hours until caffeine is no longer detected. The seeds are steamed once more to remove the ethyl acetate traces, though E.A. is only harmful to humans in very high quantities (400 parts per million or more). The coffee is then dried and polished for export.