Decaf Coffee 101: Everything You Need to Know

Decaf Coffee 101: Everything You Need to Know

Have you ever found yourself thinking about decaf coffee recently? Perhaps you’re on a health kick and want to reduce your caffeine intake, or maybe you’re just curious to see what the buzz is about.

Decaf coffee has come a long way in a short space of time. It used to be bland and flavourless, but now, with updates in research and technology, it is no longer either of these things.

In this blog, we’re taking a deep dive into the world of decaf as we spill the beans on everything you need to know, from the decaffeination process, to common myths, as well as the health benefits of drinking decaf coffee.

The Decaffeination Process

Let's kick this blog off by uncovering the secret behind decaffeination. Decaffeination is a fascinating process as it is commonly believed that it sacrifices its flavour. There are a few different ways in which normal coffee beans are turned to decaf. One method, and our favourite method, is called Sparkling Water and it is the method used for our Peruvian and Rwandan decaf coffees.

During this method, green beans are soaked and cleaned in water. This allows the pores to open up as the beans expand and the caffeine to become mobile. Pressured Carbon Dioxide is introduced, which combined with the present water creates sparkling water. The CO2 acts like a magnet to the caffeine molecules, extracting it from the beans. The water is then drained into an evaporator which precipitates the caffeine rich carbon dioxide out of the water. This cycle is repeated and repeated until the caffeine level is low enough to be classified as decaf. Once this has been reached, the decaffeinated coffee beans are then gently dried until they reach their original moisture content and are then ready for roasting.

Other methods which include chemicals may result in coffee beans that have been stripped of a lot of their original flavours. For this reason, many coffee drinkers find that decaf coffee has a simpler, less complex flavour profile, resulting in the common myth that decaf coffee is bland. However, using the Sparkling Water method, we’ve found that decaffeinated coffee is still full of flavour and enjoyable - without the caffeine buzz.

Myths and Misconceptions about Decaf Coffee

Now, let's address the elephant in the room: the misconceptions surrounding decaf coffee. You've probably heard that decaf is flavourless, it lacks aroma, or it's just not "real" coffee. But we're here to set the record straight. Spoiler alert: it's anything but bland, and we'll show you why.

Myth #1: Decaf Doesn't Have Any Caffeine

Decaffeinated coffee still contains a very tiny amount of caffeine. The majority of the caffeine is removed in the decaffeination process, however a small percentage remains. Decaf is required to be a minimum of 97% caffeine-free. To put things into perspective - if a standard cup of coffee contains about 100 mg of caffeine, the decaffeinated version will only have 2-3 mg per cup, which is not enough to give you a buzz.

Myth #2: Decaf Has No Health Benefits

This myth all boils down to the natural polyphenols found in coffee. While some may be slightly reduced during the decaffeination process, the bulk of them remain, along with essential chlorogenic acids and minerals. When caffeine exits the scene, rest assured - those valuable antioxidants stay behind, enriching your brew with goodness.

Myth #3: Decaf Contains Dangerous Chemicals

Decaffeination is achieved by soaking the coffee beans to mobilise the caffeine (a solvent, natural or otherwise) and solutions to extract the caffeine. Originally, decaffeination was developed using some pretty serious and dangerous chemical solvents. As technology has advanced, safer and natural methods, like the Sparkling Water method that we prefer, have been developed.

Myth #4: Decaf Tastes Bad

We hear this all the time here at Rounton Coffee and it’s simply not true. While it probably once was flavourless and bland, due to advancements in technology, as mentioned above, that is no longer the case. If you’re finding decaf coffee tastes like dirt, it could be due to a number of reasons, such as it has been sitting for a long time, or it was poor quality coffee before it was decaffeinated. If bad “regular” coffee is used for decaffeination, the result will still be bad —just as decaf. If they aren’t specialty coffee beans, that will always affect the flavour of coffee, decaf or not.

Which moves us on nicely to the fifth and final myth…

Myth #5: Decaf Tastes Exactly the Same as Regular Coffee

Unfortunately, the decaffeination process will extract a tiny bit of flavour from the beans, so the taste likely won't be the same as caffeinated coffee. Caffeine is attributed to about 1% of the total bitterness in coffee, so without the bite of caffeine, we’re subconsciously aware of this difference. However, it's important to note that this isn't a major change! The most devoted coffee drinker may be able to notice a subtle difference between their regular brew and its decaf counterpart, but it's not much.

Health Benefits of Decaf

Now that we've debunked some myths, let's dive into the health benefits of decaf coffee. The age-old question: is decaf coffee actually good for you? The answer might surprise you! While some sceptics may scoff at the idea, we're here to highlight the unexpected health benefits lurking within your cup of decaf.

Lowered Caffeine Intake

For those looking to reduce their caffeine intake, decaf coffee is the way to go. By switching to decaf, you can avoid negative side effects associated with caffeine, such as anxiety, insomnia, and increased heart rate.

Antioxidants and Nutrients

Decaf coffee contains the same antioxidants and nutrients as normal coffee, including essential vitamins and minerals like vitamins B2, B3, B5, manganese, and potassium. Antioxidants can help reduce inflammation, lower the risk of chronic diseases, and contribute to overall health.

Reduced Acid Intake

For those with acid reflux or other stomach-related issues, decaf coffee could be the option for you as it typically has lower acidity levels than regular coffee, which can be beneficial for those sensitive to acidic foods and beverages.

Lowered Risk of Certain Health Issues

Some studies have shown that decaf coffee can provide similar health benefits to regular coffee, such as:

  • Reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes
  • A decreased risk of stroke
  • Lowered risk of certain neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's

Our Step-by-Step Guides to Brewing the Perfect Cup of Decaf

Now, let's talk about brewing. Whether you're a seasoned barista or a casual coffee lover, there's an art to brewing the perfect cup of decaf. We have a range of brew guides on our website, so no matter how you like your coffee, whether it's espresso, cafetiere or moka pot, we’ve got you covered!

Next time you find yourself craving a cup of coffee without the jitters, remember: decaf isn't just a compromise, it's a delightful indulgence with excellent flavours and health benefits. Here's to great coffee, minus the buzz! Check out our tasty decaf coffees here.