There are four ways to decaffeinate coffee. One way is "Swiss water processed," using pure water, and is the purest method available.
Two methods of decaffeination use the solvents methylene chloride and ethyl acetate. Two of the methods use solvents, one of which is a carcinogen and small amounts of which will remain in the beans.
These are the two solvents that have been approved for use in the United States by the FDA. Methylene chloride is a carcinogen. Ethyl acetate doesn't pose any risk to the consumer.
The fourth method of decaffeination is water and carbon dioxide.
If the label says "naturally decaffeinated" it will mean it was decaffeinated by either the Swiss water processed method, or the water and carbon dioxide method. The only way to find out which method was used is to call the company.
Decaffeinated coffee manufactured in the United States is, for the most part, done through water processing. Note to also avoid bleached filters, which may contain small amounts of dioxin. Buy unbleached coffee filters or a rusable gold filter instead.
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