How Much Caffeine Is In Decaf Coffee?

I love coffee. To be honest with you though, I’m not entirely sure how I came to love coffee – I don’t remember being blown away by the deliciousness of it the first time I ever tried it. More than likely, it was the extra boost that the caffeine gave me that first got me hooked. In fact, it’s very much like alcohol in that respect – you grin and bear the taste to get to the feeling initially, and before you know it’s the taste that you keep going back for.

This has manifested itself into a growing love for decaf coffee. Much like it’s cousin, the non-alcoholic beer, decaf coffees are growing in popularity as more and more people want the taste, but without the other side effects of a cup of ‘regular’ coffee.

Why Do People Drink Decaf Coffee

For me, it’s those times when I have already had a couple of cups in the morning, but am still itching for another cup. I can feel myself getting a little bit tingly so rather than risk tipping myself over the edge, a decaf coffee is just the ticket.

Plenty of people struggle to sleep if they have had caffeine after a certain point of the day – they can feel it coursing through their bodies as they lie in bed at night – for them a decaf is the perfect option for an afternoon/evening coffee.

Lots of people suffer more serious side effects from even a tiny amount of caffeine. It has been known to cause anxiety, headaches, stomach upset, nausea, insomnia and increased heart rate, to name a few. For these people, it really isn’t worth dabbling in caffeinated coffee, so decaf presents the best option.

How is Coffee Decaffeinated?

caffeine in decaf coffeeThe process of decaffeinating coffee has to begin before the coffee is even roasted. The beans will still be green and left to soak in water and then covered with a solvent (either methylene chloride or ethyl acetate for the scientists amongst you). This will draw the caffeine out of the beans.

You may be thinking what I first thought when I learned about this – surely soaking them in anything will alter the flavour of the coffee? Well, here comes the clever bit: the water/solvent solution is reused again and again so that it is full of the flavour and aroma of the coffee. It’s effectively the same as the beans. This means that very little flavour is lost.

Your other worry might be about the health effects of soaking in these solvents (particularly if I tell you that methylene chloride is used as a paint stripper and ethyl acetate as nail polish remover!). Well, don’t worry – the ratio of these substances to water is 1:1,000,000.

How Much Caffeine Is In Decaf Coffee?

This probably isn’t the answer that you wanted, but ‘some’.

It is pretty much impossible to remove all the caffeine from coffee, so however careful you are about your chosen coffee, you will be drinking some caffeine. It is estimated that in a standard 8oz cup of coffee there will be between 2 and 15 milligrams of caffeine.

To put that into perspective, the same sized cup of regular filter coffee will typically have around 140mg of caffeine in. To compare it to ‘other’ drinks, a cup of tea will contain around 75mg, a green tea has about 50mg and a can of cola will have about 40mg. Even a small bar of chocolate will have about 10mg.

So while there is some caffeine in decaf coffee, it really isn’t much at all, and certainly not enough to have any real effect on you. Pregnant women are advised to cut down on caffeine, but they would be able to drink about 100 cups of decaf coffee before they exceeded their recommended amount!

impact of caffeine infographic

Should I Stop Drinking Decaf Now?

If you are now a little worried about the fact that decaf coffee does actually contain caffeine, let me reassure you – if you have felt no ill-effects of drinking decaf before, then you can continue to do so.

As highlighted above, the amount of caffeine is so small in comparison to so many other sources, that you really don’t need to worry about it.

However, if you were a little worried about maybe feeling like you were having a reaction to something that wasn’t supposed to be there – you weren’t going crazy. There is a chance that you were feeling the caffeine, even in such small doses, so it might be an idea to reduce your decaf intake if it worries you.

What Decaffeinated Coffee Should I Drink?

As I alluded to at the top of this article, there has been a mini explosion in terms of the range of decaf coffees that are available on the market today. The bursting popularity of coffee, and particularly the new broad range of ways to make coffee at home, has dragged the decaf coffee market into people’s kitchens with it.

While everybody’s taste will be different, I do have some advice when it comes to buying decaf coffee: experiment.

Try different types, strengths and crucially brands. Look for the small batch roasters that pop up everywhere – not just the supermarket shelves, but look out for them at food shows, farmer’s markets, online. There are so many wonderful roasters out there and most, if not all, of them will cater for the decaf market.

There is a whole world of decaf for you to try out there, whether its whole beans, ground coffee or even pods, I’m sure you will be able to find your perfect decaf coffee – and it may even convert you to going for decaf much more often.

One brand that I will namecheck though, is Black Donkey Coffee Roasters. Their decaffeinated offering made it on to our list of best ground coffee, so might be a good place to start your search for that perfect cup.

Ideal Grind
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