Which is the by-product: caffeine or decaf coffee?


  • This study was funded by the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq-Brazil) and Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (FAPESP).


Paulo Mazzafera, Departamento de Biologia Vegetal, CP 6109, Unicamp, 13083-970, Campinas, SP, Brazil. Tel: +55 19 3521 6213; Fax: +55 19 3521-6358; E-mail: pmazza@unicamp.br


The popularity of coffee as a beverage has its origin in the stimulant effect of caffeine. However, a market for decaffeinated (decaf) coffee developed when a variety of health problems appeared to be related with caffeine consumption. The caffeine obtained from the decaffeination is mainly used by pharmaceutical, cola-type soft drinks and cosmetic industries and although decaf coffee amounts to about 10% of the global coffee market, the need for caffeine by these industries is much bigger than is produced. With the increasing consumer appeal for natural products, which is related to a healthier life style, natural caffeine is missing in the market and is being replaced by the synthetic molecule, as has been shown by modern detection techniques. Here, I briefly discuss that while much attention has been paid on decaf coffee, perhaps natural caffeine has become more important and the by-product may now be decaf coffee.