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Decaf Coffee: A Rundown

Dave Carter

August 10, 2020

For most people, having a warm cup of coffee is a must-have to start the day right. However, with so much controversy around the popular drink, people may wonder, is coffee bad for you? It depends on how much you consume daily, and although it has always been the go-to beverage for most people for eons, it has been defamed recently because of its detrimental effects on a person's health due to its high caffeine content. Decaf coffee promises all the coffee goodness but without the caffeine.

Excessive consumption of regular caffeinated drinks can interfere with the proper functioning of your central nervous system, ultimately affecting the brain. It also has been associated with other health issues, including stomach ulcers, and even mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression. These several side effects were why experts have invented and popularized Decaf Coffee, making the popular drink have less adverse impact on people's health.

Here we have provided you with everything you need to know about Decaffeine coffee, from how much caffeine is in a decaf coffee to how it is made, we got the answers.

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What is Decaf Coffee​

Decaf is a shorter term for decaffeinated coffee. Decaf coffees are derived from your regular coffee, and you can brew decaf and regular coffee using your coffee and cappuccino maker or a handy Technivorm coffee maker. The only difference is that it has at least 97 percent of its caffeine content removed; this is done before roasting the coffee beans.

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) does not have strict regulations around coffee decaf, making it hard to know how much exactly you are getting in each cup. However, most decaf coffee contains 3 mg of caffeine per cup. In comparison, your regular coffee contains 85 mg of caffeine per serving, making it significantly less potent than regular coffee.

If you are worried that you will get mediocre brews because of the lower caffeine content, don't worry as although it is mostly devoid of caffeine, it is not entirely caffeine-free. And most coffee decaf brews do contain enough buzz to start the day right, and it has identical nutritional values compared to regular coffee. It makes drinking coffee healthier, allowing you to indulge in its massive health benefits.

How is decaf coffee made​

Although most people love the taste of regular coffee from their super automatic coffee machine, or after cleaning Cuisinart coffee maker for the freshest brews, many cannot deal with caffeine's effects. And although the compound is also present in other beverages and food, coffee contains a very high caffeine content that can act as a stimulant, helping most individuals get a much-needed kick at the start of the day.

However, despite its health benefits, too much of the compound can cause several mental or physical illnesses, including insomnia, diarrhea, tachycardia (fast heart rate), anxiety, depression, muscle tremors, and more.

For most individuals, the pleasure of indulging in a cup of coffee is outweighed by the caffeine-fuelled negatives. So how do you take the caffeine out of your favorite coffee beans? You can use several methods to decaffeinate regular coffee, giving you access to your favorite coffee minus the harmful side effects to your health.

The following are the different ways of transforming regular coffee into decaffeinated coffee:

The First Decaf Method​

A German coffee merchant named Ludwig Roselius invented the first-ever decaffeinating coffee method in 1905. This classic decaffeination process includes soaking raw green coffee beans in scorching hot water between 160°F to 260°F and uses methylene chloride or activated carbon in extracting the caffeine. The most commonly used solvents were methylene chloride or ethyl acetate.

However, when you use this method in decaffeinating coffee, the initial batch of coffee beans tends to lose most of its natural flavor due to the frequent water being thrown out. Still, the subsequent batches of coffee beans do retain their natural flavors. In some cases, the coffee beans from the initial batch will be re-soaked in the water solution to reabsorb some of the flavors, minus the extracted caffeine, giving you fresh decaffeinated coffee.

However, nowadays, this method is considered dangerous and is no longer practiced.

Steaming and Rinsing Decaf Process​

This decaffeination process involves steaming the beans for at least half an hour, rather than immersing it in hot water. After 30 minutes, it gets rinsed with solvents, including methylene chloride or ethyl acetate, to extract and dissolve the caffeine from the beans. These solvents first circulate through a bed of moist raw green coffee beans and then recaptured inside an evaporator while being washed with water.

Using these solvents can get rid of more caffeine because they generally target the compound and not the other components that give regular coffee its distinct flavor. After these chemicals get drained, the beans will undergo steaming again. And usually, you will add a methylene chloride or the other solvent again to the steaming vessel, circulating it, and emptying it many times until the coffee has been nearly eliminated of caffeine. This method allows you to remove between 96 to 97 percent of caffeine.

Swiss Water Process​

This decaf method uses a charcoal filter used in conjunction with a carbohydrate solvent, typically highly compressed carbon dioxide, which means that the filter and solvents only absorb the caffeine. The first step in this process involves soaking the raw beans in hot water and discarding the initial batch of coffee beans. The caffeine is then eliminated from the solution by the carbon filters. It leaves the solution filled with the natural flavors of the coffee, reused in soaking the subsequent batches of beans.

This method is the most preferred in the modern age, as it can extract up to 98 percent of the caffeine, and the use of CO2 because it has a low-pressure critical point, making it easy and safe to use. It is one of the safest ways to transform regular coffee into decaf coffee.

Sparkling Water Decaf Process​

This method is similar to the carbon dioxide method. Instead of eliminating the caffeine using activated carbon filters, you wash the caffeine from the carbon dioxide using sparkling water in a secondary container. This solvent contains about 99.7 percent of compressed CO2 and 0.3 percent of plain water, effectively removing over 95 percent of caffeine, giving you decaf coffee in a relatively safe way.


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Decaf coffee process: why remove caffeine​

After learning how to use french press coffee and hunting for the best home latte machine, make a better judgment, and use decaf coffee in making your morning cup. But why remove caffeine from your favorite regular coffee? Although consuming moderate amounts of caffeine is generally safe for your health, too much caffeine consumption can become a problem. Here are some great health benefits of removing caffeine and decaf coffee.

  • It Helps Break Caffeine Addiction

Did you know that caffeine is technically a drug? It stimulates your nervous system and can become addicting to some degree, which is the case for most people. If you're seeing yourself becoming too dependent on the substance, opt for decaf coffee instead.

  • It Lowers Blood Pressure

Removing caffeine from regular coffee can significantly lower your blood pressure. That's because the high caffeine content of a caffeinated brew can raise a person's blood pressure, which can complicate things for people that have heart problems.

  • It Gives You Better Sleep

Most people drink regular coffee to give them much-needed energy during mornings or when they need to stay awake. But regularly drinking coffee can immensely reduce the quality of a person's sleep, and it can even cause insomnia in specific individuals. If you want to ensure you have a good night's rest but still need your coffee fix, drinking decaf coffee is the best choice.

  • It Decreases Anxiety Levels

Many individuals report that drinking regular coffee induces anxiety or increases anxiety levels for people with mental illness. That's because caffeine affects the adenosine receptors in our brain, causing the stimulation of your adrenal glands, which is responsible for your emotions. Removing the compound eases the effects of the drink to people prone to anxiety issues.

  • It Lessens Headaches

Caffeinated drinks can be a source of headaches because caffeine is typically a significant triggering mechanism for this condition. Consuming decaf coffee can ease your headaches, especially for individuals prone to migraines.

  • Fewer Trips to the Bathroom

Drinking caffeinated drinks can cause individuals to urinate frequently, and even cause people to have the sudden urge to let it all out. That's because caffeine stimulates the colonic muscles of a person, enabling it to contract and make you poop. This situation can become problematic, especially while out on a road trip or when attending a meeting, so if you need your coffee fix, opt for decaf coffee instead.

What is the point of decaf coffee?​

Decaf coffee is a healthier variation of regular coffee, making your morning cup milder, have a more mellow taste and aroma, and less caffeine. So what's the point of making coffee have fewer caffeine levels? It provides you with massive health benefits, including fewer anxiety levels, less stress, and a better quality of sleep. Some studies even proved that regular decaf coffee drinks had reduced risks of incurring colon cancer. Besides its numerous benefits, it is also the ideal drink for individuals that do not like the bitter flavor and pungent smell of regular coffee.

Is it better to drink decaf coffee?​

Regular coffee has its fair share of great health benefits, including its high antioxidants and fiber content. However, its relatively high caffeine content makes it less desirable than its decaf counterpart. If you are looking for a healthier coffee variation, decaf coffee is the best choice.

Below are the different advantages of drinking decaf coffee.

  • Decaf coffee contains antioxidants that can reduce oxidative damage in your body, reducing your risks of attaining heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
  • A cup of brewed coffee provides nutrients such as potassium, niacin, magnesium, and vitamin B3.
  • Studies proved that drinking decaf coffee has been associated with the reduced risk of acquiring type 2 diabetes.
  • Decaf coffee has also been associated with reducing the risk of premature death.
  • It has been linked with lowering risks related to heart-related diseases, including high blood pressure and stroke.
  • Decaf coffee can protect neurons (cells present in the brain), giving a positive impact on age-related mental declines.
  • It can prevent a person from acquiring neurodegenerative diseases like Dementia, Parkinson's, or Alzheimer's.
  • It reduces the chances of experiencing heartburn or acid reflux.
  • Decaf coffee can also reduce the risk of developing colon or rectal cancer, up to 48 percent.

Can decaf coffee keep you awake?​

No, unlike its regular counterpart, consuming decaf coffee cannot negatively affect your sleep. That's because of the minimal to the non-existent caffeine in decaf coffee. These brews typically contain between 3 to 5 mg of caffeine per cup, compared to the 85 to 100 mg caffeine for regular coffee. However, daily decaf coffee consumption can still have a significant effect on a person's sleeping pattern because it still contains caffeine. If you want to sleep peacefully, it's best to avoid coffee altogether.

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Does decaf coffee taste different​

Yes. When coffee beans undergo a decaffeination process, the solvents used in the methods can strip away the natural flavors of the coffee, giving decaf coffee a milder and more mellow taste. However, a distinctive difference between the two brews is that regular coffee has a more acidic feel when consuming it. Because of decaf coffee's minimal caffeine content, the drink has low acidity. So, most individuals will more likely notice the flavor difference between the two brews in hot coffee due to the intense bitterness and astringency in regular coffee.

Having Decaf Coffee is an excellent way to indulge in your favorite coffee drinks minus the hazardous effects of consuming too much caffeine, which is relatively high in regular coffee. Although decaffeinated coffee is not entirely caffeine-free, it is an excellent alternative if you want to have your coffee fix without the caffeine. We hope this article helped you answer your questions about this popular coffee variation, so the next time you brew yourself a cup, think twice.


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