Writer’s Note: Krakus has changed it’s name to Akava. The packaging looks the same and can still be found in most coffee aisles. More info here.
I wanted to share my journey to cut out caffeine. I haven’t been able to have caffeine now for a few years. I used to be a coffee-tea-latte-drinkin’ gal and all of a sudden it just did NOT agree with me anymore. I started getting instant headaches, stomach aches/cramps, the jitters and I just could not seem to focus anymore. I had to give caffeine the boot – see ya, don’t let the door hit you on the way out. While some health enthusiasts boast about the benefits of drinking moderate amounts of caffeine such as reducing the risk of Parkinson’s disease, liver disease, colorectal cancer and type 2 diabetes; caffeine can cause insomnia, nervousness and restlessness, stomach irritation, nausea and vomiting, increased heart rate and respiration, and other side effects. Larger doses might cause headache, anxiety, agitation, chest pain, and ringing in the ears.
Now, here I was alone, no coffee and still craving it – just the taste, just one drop! So I did what most people do and switched to decaf. I also went down to only drinking it on the weekends. Now, I know what you’re thinking – decaf still has some caffeine in it, yes this is true, but I didn’t seem to have a reaction to it. I was more concerned about the chemical bath the coffee beans go through to extract the caffeine. These are the most common 3 methods:
In this process the decaffeinated coffee beans are produced by soaking the beans in a solvent that absorbs the caffeine. The solvents that are mostly used are ethyl acetate and methylene chloride (eeek!). After the caffeine has been removed, the solvent that now contain the caffeine is separated from the beans and this is done repeatedly until the beans are free of caffeine.
In this method the beans are soaked in water, then a solvent is used to remove the caffeine from the water that was used in soaking. The coffee beans are taken through this cycle until a given percentage of caffeine is extracted which can take some time.
Swiss Water method
In this process, the caffeine is extracted using coffee flavored water together with carbon filters and it is proved to produce 99.9% coffee beans free of caffeine. This process is very simple and is one hundred percent chemical free hence it does not interfere with the original quality of the coffee apart from removing the caffeine.
It is important when shopping for decaf coffee that you choose one that uses the Swiss Water Method as it is 100% chemical free. Another product I recently discovered is this Polish delight: Krakus Instant Coffee Substitute. It is all natural and made with extracts of roasted barley, rye, chicory, and beet roots. I know it doesn’t sound appetizing but I find it really does taste like coffee! You simply add a scoop to hot water, stir and enjoy. It is about $5.00 for a 250g can and each serving is only 5 calories. I figure it works out to $0.04-0.06 per serving depending on how big your scoop is (take that Starbucks!)
If you are trying to kick the caffeine habit, do it slowly so you don’t experience the nasty side effects of caffeine withdrawal. Slowly reduce the amount you are having each day and make the transition to a Swiss water decaf variety or give Krakus a try!
Do you drink caffeine? Have you ever experienced side effects?
Fun fact: Did you know coffee is the second most popular beverage in the world, after tea?