I don't know what readers know about coffee beans or more specifically how decaffienated coffee is produced. What is important to know is that the coffee exporters like Brazil, Colombia and Vietnam value the industry to the tune of $20 billion per year. The decaffienated coffee business is worth considerably less at $2 billion, but there's something different you have to factor in. Decaf is not available in abundant supplies naturally, or at least it hasn't been. Coffee is a very fickle plant and caffein-free producing plants are even more temperamental.
Therefor regular coffee beans are usually soaked in chemical for hours or days before they are roasted in order to render them free of their caffein. Researchers never accepted this method as it destroys the taste of the bean and have long endeavored to create a bean naturally free of caffein that could easily be transformed into an industry, but they have so far been relatively unsuccessful.
But there is new hope as of 2006, Paulo Mazzafera, a coffee researcher and biologist who has been experimenting with arabica varieties of coffee has had success with creating a plant strain which features 2% of the caffein levels of normal beans. He has trademarked the name, "Decaffito". Mazzafera is currently working with investors to find a way to get the plant into commercial production.
This is great news for decaf coffee drinkers, especially if you are a fan of organic products and natural processes. Better taste, less processing, it has to be a good thing. I had no idea this was such a challenge. I thought true naturally decaffeinated coffee was already a reality on our grocery store shelves. Interesting!