The Best Decaf Coffee Beans

'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 Volcanica, Koa Coffee, Jo Coffee and Kicking Horse 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.

TOP PICK: House Blend - DECAF (Volcanica)

a kind of coffee named after a volcano

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

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 any 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?

IMAGEPRODUCTDESCRIPTION
hg-table__imageCafe Don Pablo
  • A full-bodied, well-rounded brew flavor
  • Has low acidity
  • Swiss Water Processed
CHECK PRICE →
hg-table__imageWild Coffee Lonestar
  • Premium Grade South-American American beans that are grown organic
  • Flavor profile: Caramel and nutty
  • Swiss Water Processed
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hg-table__imageHouse Blend - DECAF (Volcanica)
  • Sweet and bold flavor
  • 100% chemical free decaffeination process
  • Swiss Water Processed
  • Roasted only AFTER you order
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hg-table__imageEthiopian Yirgacheffe Decaf Coffee (Volcanica)
  • Grown in Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee
  • Swiss Water Processed
  • Roasted only AFTER you order
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hg-table__imageColombian Supremo Decaf Coffee (Volcanica)
  • Swiss Water Processed
  • Roasted after you order
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hg-table__imageCosta Rica Decaf Tarrazu Coffee (Volcanica)
  • Swiss Water Processed
  • Roasted after you order
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hg-table__imageSumatra Mandheling Decaf Coffee (Volcanica)
  • Swiss Water Processed
  • Roasted after you order
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hg-table__imageKicking Horse Decaf Coffee
  • Swiss Water Processed
  • Dark roasted
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hg-table__image Koa Coffee Swiss Water Decaf
  • Pure Kona Coffee grown in Hawaii
  • Swiss Water Processed
  • Comes from an extremely reputable seller
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hg-table__imageNo Fun Jo Decaf Coffee
  • Swiss Water Processed
  • Medium-Dark Roasted
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cafe don pablo decaf
  • Beans: Arabica
  • Roast: Dark to medium
  • Origin: Blended

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.

wild coffee lonestar decaf
  • Beans: Arabica
  • Roast: Light medium?
  • Origin: Single origin

Another Swiss Water Process decaf coffee, The Wild Coffee Lonestar is a low-caffeine, low acidity option sourced from South America. The coffee is roasted in Austin, Texas (hence the name).

These 100% Arabica beans are praised for giving great crema, drinkers describe the flavor profile as 'caramel' and 'nutty'. Lonestar's organic beans are Fair Trade, Grade 1 Premium and grown at high altitude, like the best coffee usually is. What this should tell you is that the company is as serious about their coffee as you are.

The branding is very hipster, a plain brown bag with industrial looking artwork. It wouldn’t look out of place on the shelf in a loft apartment kitchen.

a kind of coffee named after a volcano
  • Beans: Arabica
  • Roast: Medium
  • Origin: Blended

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.

It is a must-try for any avid decaf drinker.

BEST SUITED FOR: This coffee is an excellent option for anyone looking for a dependable and affordable “go-to blend” that provides a rich, sweet, and bold cup of coffee.
Sunset on the mountain
  • Beans: Arabica
  • Roast: Medium
  • Origin: Single Origin

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.

BEST SUITED FOR: This one is for the adventurer at heart. If you want a cup that will challenge all of your taste buds at once, while still keeping that caffeine kick to a minimum, a cup of Yirgacheffe is the perfect solution.
Horse walking in the mountain
  • Beans: Arabica
  • Roast: Medium
  • Origin: Single Origin

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.

BEST SUITED FOR: Loaded with certifications and carefully grown and processed, it’s the perfect option for an environmentally and socially conscious coffee drinker looking for an affordable cup a joe.
Volcano and a Garden
  • Beans: Arabica
  • Roast: Medium
  • Origin: Single Origin

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 Ta​​rrazu 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.

BEST SUITED FOR: Bright yet smooth and medium in body and acidity, this is a perfect middle ground for anyone looking for a coffee that stays interesting but won’t get too intense, as some of the brighter, light roast options can have a tendency to do.
Wood bridged on the beach
  • Beans: Arabica
  • Roast: Medium
  • Origin: Single Origin

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).

BEST SUITED FOR: These beans are an excellent candidate for anyone looking for a smooth, mellow cuppa. The low acidity factor is a tremendous complement to what is already a very low-key decaf cup of coffee.
  • Beans: Arabica
  • Roast: Dark
  • Origin: Blended

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!

BEST SUITED FOR: The ethically minded consumer who is looking for a deep, dark roast experience that won’t keep them up all night. The extreme brewing versatility also fits in with most coffee lover’s brewing styles, from a Chemex to a French press, a cold brew, and more!
A pack of coffee
  • Beans: Arabica
  • 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.

BEST SUITED FOR: This high quality, pure Kona coffee is an excellent choice for any coffee fanatic that doesn’t mind the hefty price tag.
LEARN MORE

No Fun Jo decaf
  • Beans: Arabica
  • Roast: Medium Dark
  • Origin: Blended

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. 

BEST SUITED FOR: This ethically sourced coffee brews a sweet cup of medium-roast .

Things You Should Know 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?

How Is Coffee Decaffeinated?

Once upon a time (in 1905), a man named Ludwig Roselius decided that he wanted to decaffeinate some coffee. He theorised that if he moistened the beans to make the caffeine accessible, and then soaked them in benzene to draw the caffeine out, he’d have his wish. Those were the first decaffeinated beans.

You can only imagine how they tasted.

And until recently, chemical extraction was the main method used. The chemicals inevitably left an aftertaste that affected the coffee’s flavour, giving decaffeinated its bad rep.

a description about a decaffeinated coffee

However, this spurred the development of other methods. You’ll now find beans proudly boasting themselves as ‘naturally decaffeinated’. In all methods, the beans are moistened, just like Ludwig did over a hundred years ago. Then they’re either soaked in a bath of the solvent (chemical or a mixture of water and green coffee), repeatedly rinsed in water or blasted with jets of carbon dioxide until the caffeine surrenders and abandons the bean.

The very cool sounding ‘supercritical carbon dioxide decaffeinated’ coffee has less caffeine than beans that have been through Swiss Water decaffeination, but the purest flavor comes from treatment with simple H2O. Listen to Dr John Douillard talking about the health implications of the different decaffeination processes.

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, decaf coffee can be a good compromise.

But 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).

You can see a live taste test by watching the (unintentionally hilarious?) YouTube video below.

CAUTION: Contains disturbing scenes of someone drinking instant coffee.

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. 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 Swiss Water Method

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:

Process of Water Decaf

On average, roughly a quarter of each coffee bean is made of soluble materials that comprise the flavor, oils, and caffeine content. The first step in the process is to clean and pre-soak the green coffee beans in order to open up the pores. After that, an initial batch of beans is immersed in hot water and all of those soluble elements are removed.

NOTE: This process is always done with green coffee beans. It’s not until after the caffeine has been removed they are ready to be roasted.

Once this is done, the initial batch of beans – now flavorless and dull – is discarded. It’s a sad loss, but a necessary one to help keep the use of chemicals out of the process. At this point, what is left is a liquid called green coffee extract. This extract is all of the soluble flavors, oils, and caffeine of the coffee without the bean itself.

The green coffee extract is then run through a carbon filter that has been specifically designed to catch caffeine particles. When the extract has finished going through this filter, the overwhelming majority of the caffeine particles are removed, but — and this is a crucial “but!” — the flavors and oils remain, making it now a caffeine-free green coffee extract.

White Coffee Beans

A fresh batch of green beans is then cleaned and pre-soaked, enlarging the beans and opening up their pores. They are then immersed not in hot water, but directly into the green coffee extract.

This extract is still saturated with the flavor and oils, but importantly is lacking any caffeine. This allows the caffeine in the new batch of green coffee beans to migrate into the extract, while the flavors and oils remain virtually untouched.

After this process has been completed (it can take hours to fully extract the caffeine to the exacting Swiss Water Process standards), the now decaffeinated coffee beans can be removed — sans their caffeine, but still possessing all of that flavor and pizazz! — and the process can be repeated on a fresh batch of green beans.

It’s a natural, safe, and affordable way to organically remove the caffeine from coffee without compromising the flavor!

The video below has a great visual summary of the process.

In addition, if you’re interested in a more thorough (and rather unctuous) breakdown of how this all works, this video has many great visuals… and a guide who is apparently from the 1940s to help walk you through it.

THE VERDICT


Without further ado, for our money the best decaf coffee is the...

Volcanica House Blend - Decaf!

1 pack of Volcanica Coffee
a kind of coffee named after a volcano

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.

Alex
 

Alex is the Founder and Editor of Homegrounds.co. He is passionate about brewing amazing coffee at home, and teaching others to do the same.