The Best Decaf Coffee Beans: reviews and buying tips
‘Decaf; doesn’t that taste just awful?’ Well, not anymore.
With specialty coffee taking off in the last years, gone are the days of settling for foot sole tasting decaf options. Low-caf is now a much better option than it used to be, with reputable coffee brands such as the ones you’ll see below all producing high-quality, safely processed decaffeinated beans.
And of course, buying whole beans and them grinding them yourself right before brewing makes a world of difference! We’ve reviewed the best decaffeinated coffees for you here, so you can brew your own jitter-free java.
House Blend – DECAF (Volcanica)
Our vote for the best tasting decaf coffee. Volcanica is an extremely conscious coffee company that exclusively uses Swiss water processing for all decaf coffees. They have created a gorgeous Decaf blend using South and Central American beans – prized for its sweet, bold flavour and full, satisfying body. Roasted after you order (Freshest beans available)
Top 10: Best Decaf Coffee
We’ve already told you about the best overall coffee beans, but we saved decaf for this list. After a lot of research on your behalf (you can thank me later) here are the best decaf coffees we’ve found. All these options have been Swiss water processed.
We’ve excluded chemically decaffeinated options, such as the Eight O’Clock Whole Bean Coffee, which is processed with methylene chloride – known in your local hardware store as ‘paint stripper’. It might be safe or it might not, but hey, why take the risk?
|House Blend - DECAF (Volcanica)||CHECK PRICE →|
|Cafe Don Pablo||CHECK PRICE →|
|LifeBoost Organic Decaf||CHECK PRICE →|
|Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Decaf Coffee (Volcanica)||CHECK PRICE →|
|Colombian Supremo Decaf Coffee (Volcanica)||CHECK PRICE →|
|Costa Rica Decaf Tarrazu Coffee (Volcanica)||CHECK PRICE →|
|Sumatra Mandheling Decaf Coffee (Volcanica)||CHECK PRICE →|
|Kicking Horse Decaf Coffee||CHECK PRICE →|
|Koa Coffee Swiss Water Decaf||CHECK PRICE →|
|No Fun Jo Decaf Coffee||CHECK PRICE →|
Our top pick comes from Volcanica Coffee, a family-run company that specializes in providing some of the highest quality gourmet coffees – and at some pretty incredible prices to boot! Volcanica is focused on exceptional quality, making frequent personal trips to farms and ensuring that they’re providing the best treatment for everyone involved from the crop to your cup.
Their beans are sourced from the best growing regions around the world, particularly those defined by rich, volcanic growing soil, and usually at fairly high altitudes – both of these factors being renowned for yielding incredibly high-quality beans.
This Volcanica Decaf House Blend is an exquisite blend of Central and South America beans. Medium roasted after you’ve placed your order to ensure optimal freshness, these beans deliver a cup of coffee that has a very full, rich body and is defined by its strong and bold – while simultaneously sweet – flavor profile.
Processed using the Swiss Water Method, these award-winning Arabica beans from Colombia are roasted in small batches just prior to packaging.
Cafe Don Pablo brews with a less acidic flavour profile than other low-caf brands. And whereas some beans can leave you with a bitter aftertaste, there’s none of that with this smooth, well-rounded bean from Cafe Don Pablo. It’s worth noting that some drinkers find it tastes more like a dark roast than medium roast.
Although the beans from this Colombian decaf are not fair-trade certified, the company does have their own ‘Sharing Certified’ program and works closely with farmers in Colombia.
This 100% chemical-free Swiss Water Processed decaf coffee by lifeboost coffee is low-caffeine, low acidity, organic, and sustainably sourced from the Nicaraguan mountains.
These 100%-Arabica single origin beans are praised for their smooth, balanced flavors, with low acidity and caffeine levels. Home baristas describe the flavor profile as ‘caramel’ and ‘nutty’. Life Boosts organic beans are Fair Trade, shade-grown, handpicked, spring water washed, and grown at high altitudes like the best coffee usually is. This company is serious about offering amazing tasting coffee without risking the health benefits.
You won’t be inspired by their branding or packaging, but at the end of the day that does not matter as long as the product is gold standard.
Ah, Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee. There’s something about getting coffee from the ‘source’. Once again, it’s our wonderful friends at Volcanica Coffee that come swooping in to the rescue with their Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Decaf Coffee. The beans come from the Yirgacheffe region in southern Ethiopia. This region is known for its traditional Arabica coffee plant varietals, and the floral and fruity flavored coffees they produce.
The bulk of these beans are gathered from wild coffee trees, and it shows. Dry processed and medium roasted, a cup of Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Decaf is medium-bodied, deeply complex, sweet and fruity, and brings an ever-so-slightly bitter element to the table. Flavors include hints of strawberry, chocolate, cedar, lavender, and a “spirits-tinged finish.”
True to their business model, the beans are both Swiss Water Processed and roasted after you place your order, ensuring that they come to your door as fresh and flavorful as possible.
Hailing from one of the hotbeds of South American coffee, this single origin, wet-processed coffee is grown high up in volcanic soil on the slopes of the Andes Mountains in Colombia. From its smooth body and medium acidity and finish to its fruity and floral aroma and nutty overtones, this cup is relaxed and yet full of life all at the same time.
Part of the reason that it can deliver such a splash of flavor is, of course, that according to the strict rules that Volcanica Coffee sticks to, the coffee has been decaffeinated using the Swiss Water Process.
What makes this Colombian whole bean even more ‘supremo’ (get it?) is that it’s shade grown in optimal conditions and, as always at Volcanica, roasted after you order. It’s just plain amazing.
Central America is a coffee paradise, and Costa Rica is no exception. The country has been a major coffee producer for a long time now, and that experience is on full display with this Costa Rica Decaf Tarrazu Coffee.
Grown in the cooler, high-altitude regions of the Tarrazu mountains, this full-bodied and well-balanced coffee is an excitingly bright, yet delicately smooth cup that is sure to deliver an exciting, flavor-filled experience without overwhelming you in the process. It has a medium acidity and notes of crisp apple and chocolate that are the perfect accent to a mellow cuppa.
The coffee is Shade Grown, Rainforest Alliance Certified, wet processed, and decaffeinated via the Swiss Water Process method.
The only criticism we could find on this one was that the taste was “good but not great.” If that eloquent criticism is the worst tasting experience out there, chances are this is a safe bet.
This one also continues the trend of Volcanica Coffees on our list that are both amongst the most affordable decaf options available, as well as guaranteed to be roasted after you place your order.
One of the most prolific coffee-growing regions on the planet is Indonesia, and one of the biggest hotspots in the island nation is Sumatra. Sumatran coffees often have a very earthy, rich flavor, and this rare Sumatra Mandheling Decaf Coffee goes right along with that trend.
This exotic, low-acidic decaf option is as smooth as it gets. The beans have a heavy body and intensely syrupy flavor that ends in a rich, earthy aftertaste.
These mellow fellows are Shade Grown, Rainforest Alliance Certified, and, of course, Swiss Water Processed. Only roasted after you place your order, typically arriving fresh on your doorstep within the next few days.
The only negative comment we found claims that the price was too high for the overall quality of the beans, though this was counterbalanced by many satisfied, five-star review customers who loved the smooth, full flavor. (Let’s ignore this cheapskate for now).
If you’re a fan of a good dark roast, these decaf beans from Kicking Horse may be just what you’re looking for.
Like Volcanica Coffee, Kicking Horse Coffee is a high-end coffee provider that is laser-focused on elements like organic products and sustainable practices.
This decaf blend is made with beans from Central and South America. It is dark roasted, giving it a deep, earthy, and nutty flavor with hints of chocolate and hazelnuts. This beauty of this blend is that it’s usable with whatever coffee maker you have on hand, from espresso to French Press or even a decaf cold brew.
And of course, like all beans in this list, the decaffeination is done using the Swiss Water Process, giving you virtually none of the caffeine, yet maintaining all of that exquisitely grown and roasted flavor. Kicking Horse Coffee has also gone out of their way to slap on as many sustainable labels as they could get their hands on: It’s Fair Trade certified, Kosher(!), and certified organic in both Canada and the U.S.
Be aware, though: the bag is priced affordably but is also pretty small. Just 10 oz!
- Roast: Medium
- Origin: Single origin
These decaf beans come from Koa Coffee, a high-end coffee producer that grows their beans right on the slopes of Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii, giving it that exquisite “Aloha taste” that Kona beans are famous for.
Painstakingly grown and medium roasted to perfection, you shouldn’t expect anything less considering the price tag. These are certainly some of the most elite beans in the coffee world. They work well for a straight decaf cuppa as well as a half and half mix to cut down on the caffeine in your regular coffee.
As you can probably guess from the title, these beans are Swiss Water Processed, which means all of those flavors and oils have been carefully preserved just for your cup.
Jo Coffee is clearly committed to doing everything right. They’re Fair Trade certified, as well as USDA Organic, plus they’re members of the Specialty Coffee Association, and of course, they use the Swiss Water Process to remove caffeine from these beans. They’re roasted to a medium-dark level, great for pour over or drip but surprisingly good in espresso (if you’re a Third Wave coffee drinker).
Cupping notes describe blueberry and chocolate elements, which sound like some of our favorite Ethiopian beans. However, Jo Coffee doesn’t state the origin of these beans. They do say there are no flavorings added to the coffee, but that the fruity, cocoa elements are a natural component of the beans they use.
That blueberry aroma is delicious, but surprising. We’ve found, when brewing cappuccinos from Ethiopian coffees which have strong blueberry components, that you can omit sugar even if you normally sweeten your cappuccino – the fruity lushness of the blueberry scent provides enough sweetness without adding anything. So if you’re looking to cut down on sugar as well as caffeine, maybe No Fun Jo is one you should try.
Things You Should Look out for when choosing Decaffeinated coffee
If you’re not already a low-caf convert then you might wonder why you should give it a try. If you are, you may have noticed that most decaffeinated blends are Arabica based (robusta has more caffeine) so what’s the difference between them?
Choose the Swiss Water Method of Decaffeination
There are 4 methods of decaffeinating coffee – with the most popular today being the ‘Swiss water method’. It’s the most effective, and safest method used today. We cover these in detail in our guide: The truth about decaf coffee. Read it out if you really want to get into the science.
The Swiss Water Method (S.W.M. for short) of decaffeinating coffee is a certified organic process that naturally removes 99.9% of the caffeine, while keeping all of the flavors as unadulterated by the process as possible.
Here’s how the process works:
Why Drink Decaf?
As many as 10% of us now buy reduced caffeine coffee. Why? Partly because some of us just like the coffee taste too much. Others like to drink a coffee after dinner – it’s such a nice ritual, hey? – but they’re weary of sleep problems. By the way, if you have any problems with heartburn, the low acidity of decaffeinated coffee might be a reason for trying it out.
As a life without coffee is too cruel to be imagined, if a decaf coffee can be a good compromise. Or if you want something a little weaker, go for some great tasting instant coffee.
Doesn’t It Taste Different?
It depends on the way the coffee has been decaffeinated. Water decaffeination doesn’t alter the flavour profile as much as solvent-based methods. Of course, any process that your coffee goes through changes the flavour to a certain extent, but it’s probably not as noticeable now as it was years ago (or for poor Ludwig).
Decaf Doesn’t Mean Nocaf
No process can remove all the caffeine from the coffee. In the USA, the Food and Drug Administration requires 97% of the stimulant to be removed from the coffee before it can call itself decaffeinated. In a recent study, it was found that most of the brews tested contained as much as 10% of a regular cup of drip (1).The standards are a little tighter in Europe, with EU regulations requiring more than 99.7% of the caffeine to be removed to be called decaffeinated.
If you’re caffeine sensitive, the best brew to choose is one that’s been decaffeinated using the Swiss Water Method as that is the most effective process, removing 99.9% of the caffeine.
THE VERDICT: whats the best decaf coffee?
Without further ado, for our money the best decaf coffee is the Volcanica House Blend – Decaf
Your mileage may vary, of course. But one thing is certain; the days when decaffeinated was second-best are well and truly in the past.
- Jennifer Warner. Decaf Coffee Isn’t Caffeine-Free. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20061011/decaf-coffee-isnt-caffeine-free