When you want all the bad breath-creating power of coffee (science behind that right here) with none of the flavor, energy, and pride, decaf is the answer. But how the hell do coffee roasters castrate nature's buzziest bean to the 97% awesomeness-free international decaf standards? With 8-12 applications of one of these methods, and 2-3 doses of shame. Here's the watered-down science behind it all:
The Roselius Method
Coffee was first stripped of its dignity in 1903 by German scientist Ludwig Roselius, who was actually buddies with Hitler until they had a falling out because Luddy wanted to acknowledge a second master race -- one strangely not named the Third-and-a-half Reich.
His company, KAFFEE HAG (rebranded Sanka in the US), used a process of steaming the beans, then hitting them with a dose of benzene to remove the caffeine. That process also unknowingly added cancer, giving new meaning to their slogan, "Drink Sanka Coffee and sleep".
The Swiss Water Process
Since the retirement of the Roselius Method (aka the racist method), several other caffeine-destroying techniques have emerged. Soaking coffee beans in water effectively removes the caffeine, but also strips the beans of the oils that contribute to its life-affirming taste.
To balance this deliciousness deficit, the Swiss Water Process soaks one set of beans and discards them, but saves the flavor water in which to soak a second set of beans, thus removing the caffeine by effectively drowning it in its own juices.
Blast The Beans With Chemicals
In addition to the backwash method, there's a few other ways to keep the fun out of a cup of coffee. One process involves steaming the beans before dousing them with chemicals like ethyl acetate or triglyceride. And yet another technique blasts those suckers with highly-pressured liquid carbon dioxide, thus allowing caffeine haters to breathe easy.