Meeting the Changing Demand for Better Decaf

Sustainability takes the front seat in the decaffeination process
Photograph: Shutterstock

Sustainability and ethical sourcing are driving consumer interest in coffee programs, from growing to  sourcing to decaffeination processes and beyond. It’s not only boutique coffee shops following this movement that regards coffee as an artisanal ingredient rather than a commodity—it’s showing up in all venues, including convenience stores. Java geeks and high end consumers aren’t the only groups driving this interest—coffee drinkers across the consumer spectrum are increasingly concerned about what’s in their cup and how it got there.

Statistics bear this out: 44% of consumers say they believe sustainable foods and drinks are slightly or much more healthy, and 26% say they think sustainable food and drinks taste better, according to Technomic’s 2018 Healthy Eating report. Additionally, more than half of consumers, 56%, say they are more likely to buy food and drinks that are sustainable.

Don’t neglect decaf

Responsive c-store retailers are most likely already catering to these coffee customers with intriguing brews made from beans that are high quality as well as being organic, sustainable, Fair Trade Certified™ or Rainforest Alliance Certified™. But if the decaffeinated offering is just an ordinary house blend, retailers could be missing out on a big sales opportunity, and that’s because not all decaf is created equal.

Most coffees are decaffeinated using chemical solvents such as methylene chloride or ethyl acetate. But Swiss Water Process is chemical-free, employing an all-natural, water-based process to decaffeinate beans while retaining aroma, body, acidity, sweetness, character and flavor.  This use of time, water and tempurature to gently decaffeinate coffee without the use of chemicals by the Swiss Water Process® is key in ensuring the flavor notes in decaf are that of great coffee and nothing else.

The Swiss Water Process is certified organic by the Organic Crop Improvement Association, the world’s largest organic certification agency, and Swiss Water decaffeinated coffees are available through all major roasting partners in the U.S.

Meeting demand

There is a big demand for decaf coffee. A full 62% of consumers think it is important to limit caffeine intake, according to data from the National Coffee Association’s 2018 Coffee Drinking Trends report. Between 2016 and 2018, there was a 26% increase in decaf cups per person per day. That’s especially true of Gen Z and millennials, who drink more decaf coffee than any other age group. Also, 37% of decaf drinkers consumed three-plus cups a day, compared with only 18% of regular-coffee drinkers.

Transparency is key

People continue to be more mindful about the food and drinks they consume. For example, 42% of consumers say they expect bakery and coffee cafes to be transparent about where they source their coffee, according to Technomic’s 2018 Bakery and Coffee Cafe report. That concern for the expectations extends across all channels where consumers make purchase decisions, including convenience stores.

Swiss Water believes in sustainability from farm to cup. In fact, companies that roast coffee can directly trace the coffee they purchase from Swiss Water via an online program. This enables transparent labeling of coffee sourcing and processing. What’s more, certified sustainable coffees made up 27% of its bean volume in 2015; Fair Trade Certified™ made up 15% and Rainforest Alliance Certified™ made up 5%. Additionally, 22% of the coffee decaffeinated by Swiss Water Process is organically grown.

The bottom line? Swiss Water Process decaf coffee not only tastes great—it’s also good for consumers and good for the planet, which c-store customers will appreciate. Plus, it is also easily accessible from roaster suppliers who service the c-store industry.

This post is sponsored by Swiss Water Decaffeinated Coffee Inc.