Most Americans — 70% — drink coffee, and 62% enjoy at least one cup of coffee every day. Now that's a lot of caffeinated people running around! While caffeine is good for you in moderation, it can have you bouncing off the walls if you're not careful. Decaf coffee offers more benefits without the risks of too much caffeine consumption. Plus, there's nothing like a warm mug of coffee with your dessert, or as a dessert by itself, and a cup of decaf won't keep you up all night.
"Decaf" is short for decaffeinated, but a lot of people assume that means there's no caffeine. Decaf coffee actually contains very little caffeine — only about 2 milligrams per 8 ounces — compared to regular coffee, but it isn't a totally caffeine-free beverage. Still, even though it has low caffeine content, it's got an almost identical flavor, which makes it the perfect substitution for your favorite caffeinated drink.
Decaf coffee beans have different methods of decaffeination and unique antioxidant benefits, so if you're a coffee connoisseur like us, you'll love learning about the fantastic benefits of drinking decaffeinated coffee.
The Health Benefits of Drinking Decaf Coffee
You might think your coffee habit is a guilty pleasure, but, if you drink decaf, that doesn't have to be the case. The healthy benefits of decaf coffee include:
1. Plenty of Antioxidants
Coffee is one of the largest sources of antioxidants across the globe. Antioxidants essentially beat up the bad stuff in your body. Many health conditions — like degenerative diseases or cancer — are a result of high toxicity in the body. Drinking three to five cups of coffee a day can help you achieve up to 60% of your recommended daily antioxidants, bolstering your body's fighting spirit. Some of the antioxidants in decaf coffee include:
- Cafestol has two main functions. It moderates the bile acid in the intestines, and it has anti-inflammatory qualities that can improve brain function and memory. So put down the sudoku and pick up a mug of decaf!
- Trigonelline is an antibacterial compound that prevents tooth decay or cavities — but yes, you still need to brush your teeth.Removing a compound called methyl from trigonelline can also create vitamin B3, known for its antioxidant properties.
- Chlorogenic acid does triple duty with antioxidant, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory activity. Chlorogenic acid (CGA) is thought to prevent fat accumulation and increase your metabolism, helping you lose weight. Take that, juice cleanses!
Other antioxidants that create a heavenly coffee experience are melanoidins, which give coffee its signature aroma, and quinine, the source of coffee's delicious bitterness.
2. Lower Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Diabetes affects the way the pancreas releases insulin, where too much sugar is left in the bloodstream and can lead to problems like heart disease, vision loss and kidney disease. Around 90% to 95% of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes happens when the body can't regulate blood sugar levels, compared to type 1 diabetes, where the body accidentally attacks itself and prevents insulin function.
Decaffeinated coffee, as well as caffeinated coffee, contains chlorogenic acid and caffeic acid. Those powerhouse acids are shown to reduce the misfolding of a protein that causes damage to the cells in the pancreas. So, if you drink coffee, you're pumping your body with healthy acids that reduce the number of those misfolded proteins, potentially lowering your risk of type 2 diabetes.
3. Lower Acidity
Caffeinated coffee can make you feel like a dragon — but not in a good way. If you've ever gotten the "burps of fire," you probably know what heartburn feels like. It's a burning sensation deep within your chest, and it usually happens right after you eat or drink something acidic, like caffeinated coffee.
What happens is that too much caffeine — over four cups of caffeinated coffee a day — causes the esophagus to relax and create an opening that encourages more acid buildup. That acid irritates the lining of your esophagus, and it can feel like you're a fire-breathing dragon. But, since decaf coffee doesn't contain much caffeine, you don't have to worry as much about this happening.
4. Preventing Degenerative Diseases That Come With Age
Decaf coffee isn't a cure for aging. But amazingly, it can help prevent the development of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.Coffee has antioxidants that can lower your risk of certain neurodegenerative diseases by 20% to 25% if you drink three to five cups a day long-term.
The antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties of decaffeinated coffee also increase cancer-fighting activities, decreasing your chance of developing cancer. Although these effects are amplified with regular coffee's caffeine, decaf beans still hold properties that have a similar impact, just without the jitters.
How Is Decaf Coffee Made?
Caffeine occurs naturally in around 60 plant species, but you're probably most familiar with coffee beans and their caffeine kick. Civilizations all over the world have been making and enjoying coffee for hundreds of years, but the decaffeination process came about relatively recently. A European scientist set out to extract the stimulant from coffee, and now we have what is called decaf.
There are many different processes that transform coffee beans into delicious coffee, and then these decaffeination methods turn that coffee into decaf varieties.
1. Direct Solvent Decaffeination
This method takes coffee beans on something of a spa day, soaking them in extremely hot water to open their pores. But what comes out is the caffeine and a bit of flavor. Decaf coffee producers treat that water with a solvent for about 10 hours to release the caffeine. That water, which is now slightly coffee-flavored and decaffeinated, goes back to the beans to reclaim their lost flavors.
2. Swiss Water Process
The second decaffeination process, called the Swiss Water Process, also involves treating coffee beans to a hot water bath. Once soaked, the water goes through a charcoal filter, which catches the caffeine molecules without losing any flavor. Solvents never touch the beans or water during this process. After filtering the caffeine, the water is returned to a new batch of beans, and the old, flavorless beans are discarded.
The non-caffeinated water that's leftover is called green coffee extract (GCE). The GCE gets added to a fresh batch of coffee beans, where the caffeine moves from the fresh coffee beans into the caffeine-free water. The water then gets passed through yet another filter until the water is almost completely free of caffeine.
3. The Carbon Dioxide Process
Another option is the use of CO2. Like the other processes, the coffee beans first take a bath. Then, they're placed in a stainless steel container called an extraction vessel. As the name suggests, the extraction vessel is responsible for extracting caffeine. Liquid CO2 pumps into the extraction vessel at a massive pressure, filtering out any caffeine but leaving all of the delicious coffee flavors behind.
Decaf vs. Caffeinated Coffee
"Death before decaf" reads popular coffee-lover decor, but why does decaf get such a bad rap? Caffeine, after all, is a stimulant. People who regularly consume caffeine can experience actual withdrawal symptoms when they don't get their daily fix. So why is it that caffeinated coffee is so much more popular?
Turns out, coffee humor and coffee snobs may be partly to blame. Memes abound with phrases like, "Don't talk to me before I've had my coffee," and, "Mommy needs her go-go juice," to imply that coffee is truly what gets us through the day. Those who look down on decaf might just be reflecting an old idea about coffee — caffeinated varieties are thought to be the standard, while decaf is considered the "less-good" version.
These two drinks may be more similar than you think, but there are also some distinct differences:
Some similarities between caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee include:
- Antioxidants: Both options are rich in antioxidants. A daily dose of three to five cups of coffee gets you over half of your daily recommended antioxidant consumption. You can sip caffeinated or decaf and feel like you're putting something good into your body.
- Flavor options: Neither option is limited in terms of flavor. Although decaffeinated coffee loses a very small amount of natural flavor during the decaffeination process, it's revitalized with other flavors like pumpkin, Irish creme, mocha and much more. Craving a classic coffee taste? Simply making a stronger cup of decaf can taste almost identical to your regular coffee.
So what's the difference between decaf and caffeinated? Coffee connoisseurs and casual drinkers alike can notice these differences:
- Caffeine: Of course, the main difference between caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee is the caffeine level. Decaffeinated coffee still has a small amount of caffeine, while a cup of caffeinated coffee has around 50 mg to 140 mg. Caffeine makes people feel energized and willing to take on possible side effects like jitters, headaches and insomnia.
- Stimulation: Caffeine causes stimulation. That's why you feel those jitters or high energy levels after drinking a large cup of coffee. People with caffeine sensitivities can experience discomfort with as little as 10 mg of caffeine, making decaf coffee a better choice for them.
- Antioxidants: Although both decaf and regular coffee are rich in antioxidants, decaffeinated coffee loses some antioxidants during the decaffeination process. It's not much, though, so don't worry! You still get rich antioxidant benefits with your cup of decaf.
- Taste: During the soaking stage of the decaffeination process, beans tend to lose some of their flavor and aroma, but they can be rejuvenated by soaking the caffeine-free beans with flavorful water.
FAQs: Facts About Decaffeinated Coffee
A lot of people who are unfamiliar with decaf coffee have similar questions and concerns. Here are some facts you should know about decaf coffee:
1. Is Decaf Coffee Bad for You?
No — decaf can actually be good for you. It's loaded with rich antioxidants to a degree you can't find in many other foods or drinks. And if you love coffee but have a caffeine sensitivity, decaf is a perfect substitution that lets you enjoy your favorite beverage. Decaffeinated coffee is also thought to help control heartburn better than its caffeinated alternative. Since less acid is creeping up into and irritating your esophagus, you can go ahead and have that second cup without regretting your choices later on.
2. Does Decaf Coffee Have Caffeine in It?
All types of decaffeinated coffees contain a very small amount of caffeine compared to a normal cup of coffee. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) states that decaf coffee should have no more than 0.1% of caffeine, with 97% of the caffeine removed from a batch of decaf coffee beans.
The amount of caffeine depends on how well the caffeine was filtered from the coffee beans and water. For comparison, the average cup of caffeinated coffee has around 95 mg of caffeine. A decaf cup of coffee only has about 2 mg per cup.
3. How Does Decaf Impact Your Digestion?
Let's not dance around the topic — we've all had an "uh oh" moment after drinking coffee. Caffeine, which is present in decaf in small amounts, is a stimulant. It increases gut motility, pushing contents through the gastrointestinal tract — which is a fancy way of saying decaf coffee makes you poop. It's also a diuretic, so it may also make you feel like you have to pee.
Different people have different reactions to caffeine. Some people may get anxious and jittery, making them more likely to experience loose stools or diarrhea. Your reaction depends on your caffeine tolerance, whether you have existing conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and how strong the coffee is.
Compared to caffeinated coffee, you'll need to drink more cups of decaf coffee to experience these effects. So, if you notice more frequent and — let's say, less enjoyable trips to the bathroom — when you have caffeinated coffee, try switching to decaf.
4. How Does Decaf Taste in Comparison to Caffeinated Coffee?
Caffeine enhances the flavor of drinks and adds a slight bitterness, which many coffee lovers enjoy. But that doesn't mean drinks without caffeine aren't as flavorful. Although some of decaf coffee beans' flavor is lost during the decaffeination processes, decaf and caffeinated coffee taste so similar, most people can't tell the two apart.
While some coffee snobs might turn up their noses and claim they can taste a difference, it's pretty rare. One study actually set out to discover if people could taste the difference between caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee. The study used hot and iced coffees, then asked eight tasters to identify which was caffeinated and which was decaffeinated. Only two in eight tasters correctly identified which cups were decaffeinated in both categories.
Remember that decaffeinated coffee contains a small amount of caffeine, so it's not at a total loss of flavor. You'll still enjoy the rich flavor and beautiful aromas that define a good cup of coffee.
5. Can I Get Good Flavors in Decaf?
If you prefer decaf coffee, you don't have to revoke your citizenship from the Flavor Nation. You can get just-as-good flavors as caffeinated coffee, with flavor options from Crazy Cups like:
- Death by Chocolate: It's coffee with chocolate taste to die for. One sip, and you're in chocolate nirvana.
- Butter Pecan Swirl: You'll melt for the scrumptious taste of gourmet, butter-toasted pecans and sweet cream. It's like having a double scoop of ice cream, without the drippy mess or calories.
- White Chocolate Strawberry: Enjoying the lavish taste of fresh strawberries and sweet white chocolate without any calories has never been simpler — just brew a cup and you're there.
- Cinnamon French Toast: Enjoy the decadent taste of cinnamon french toast and a hint of maple syrup whenever you're in the mood. Why should breakfast have all the fun?
- Coconut Caramel-icious: Get lost with a smooth cup of rich coffee flavored with creamy coconut and sweet, decadent caramel. This coffee is better than good, it's Caramel-icious!
6. Does Decaf Coffee Come in Pods for Keurig Machines?
Yes, decaf does come in single-serve K cups®, k pods or coffee capsules that are suitable for Keurig machines. Pods make brewing easy because the grinds are already measured out for you, so you get the perfect cup of coffee every time. But not every pod is equal. Crazy Cups adds an average of 35% more coffee in each pod, giving your coffee a bolder and richer taste. Since our coffee is so flavorful, you might not even notice a difference in taste between caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee.
7. Is It Worth It to Drink Decaf?
Both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee have their benefits, including a high amount of antioxidants in each cup, a lower risk of certain health conditions and potential weight loss. There isn't necessarily a "best" option between the two. But decaf is a great choice if you aren't looking for the drastic energy boost that caffeine gives or if you're sensitive to a higher amount of caffeine.
You can also get the best of both worlds and drink both! Start your day with a caffeinated cup to give you a boost in the morning. Once you're actually awake, switch to decaf for the rest of the day to enjoy your favorite coffee flavors without the jitters and bathroom trips.
8. Is It Safe to Drink Decaf Coffee While Pregnant?
As mentioned, caffeine is a stimulant and diuretic. It increases your blood pressure and heart rate, which doctors don't recommend for pregnant women. Even if you could handle a high amount of caffeine before pregnancy, your baby is still maturing and can't handle caffeine the same way you can.
But that doesn't mean you're banned from coffee. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists say that pregnant women can consume up to 200 mg of caffeine every day. If you're pregnant, decaffeinated coffee is a good alternative because it has significantly less caffeine in each cup, so you can feel good about protecting your baby.
9. Is Decaf Coffee Addictive? Is Decaf Bad For You?
If you drink coffee every morning, you're gonna feel it when you're late for work and miss your morning cup. That's because caffeine, in general, can be addictive. Regularly drinking more than four cups of coffee a day can lead to headaches, insomnia, irritability, fast heartbeat, nervousness and more. After a while, your body will become dependent on the stimulant, and kicking the habit can worsen these symptoms.
The best way to avoid these scenarios is by keeping your caffeine consumption under 400 mg a day. Luckily for coffee connoisseurs, decaf is a healthy alternative to caffeinated coffee. That's why even if you need the caffeine boost in the morning, it's a good idea to switch to decaf coffee throughout the day.
Experience More Decaf Flavor With Crazy Cups
Crazy Cups is crazy about a good cup of decaf coffee. We're your source of flavor — our Flavor Nation enjoys our unique array of over 40 delicious flavors. With every cup of coffee you enjoy from us, your taste buds will go on a journey.
Coffee brings people together, and Crazy Cups is determined to ensure your satisfaction with every cup and packaging. If you order something from us and are unhappy, we will fully refund your money or send you a new box. That's something our Flavor Nation can trust.
Never run out of coffee again by setting up subscription orders. Save 25% on your initial subscription, then 15% on all recurring orders. You'll experience the control, convenience and flexibility of every order. Subscribing is easy — select "subscription" on your favorite products, select delivery while checking out and complete your order.
Have any questions? We'd love to give you an answer! Contact our Coffee Concierge Team online and we'll guide you in the right direction.