What are the Best Decaf Coffees?
Decaf coffee seems pointless to many coffee drinkers, especially if you need a jolt to kickstart your mornings. But coffee without the caffeine still allows you to enjoy the ritual, the aroma, and of course, the taste. As a bonus, you can have decaf coffee at any time of the day.
Decaffeinated coffee might have a bad reputation, but the days of bland decaf are over. HomeGrounds has prepared a guide to the best-tasting decaf coffee brands you can buy online.
The Best Decaf Coffee Brands in 2023
After a lot of research, Homegrounds has come up with picks for the best decaf coffee on the market. Top picks include the team’s favorite medium roast and the best organic decaf coffee.
You’ll find both the best decaf ground coffee and whole beans here. But, if you want decaf in a hurry, check out our guide to the best instant coffees.
|Volcanica House Blend Decaf||
|Coffee Bros Decaf Roast Coffee||
|Volcanica Costa Rica Decaf Tarrazu Coffee||
|Kicking Horse Decaf Coffee||
|Irving Farm Decaf Blackstrap||
|Peet’s Decaf Mocca-Java||
|Lifeboost Hazelnut Decaf||
|Out of the Grey Kenyan AA||
1. Volcanica House Blend Decaf – Best Overall
- Beans: Arabica
- Origin: South and Central America
- Tasting notes: Sweet and bold
The Homegrounds’ top pick comes from Volcanica Coffee. This family-run company provides high-quality coffee from volcanic regions (including some of our favorite Ethiopian coffee beans). 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.
The House Blend mixes 100% Arabica beans sourced from Central and South America. The resulting cup of coffee has a full, rich body defined by its bold yet sweet flavor profile. Volcanica uses the Swiss water processing method of removing caffeine from its beans, after which this particular decaf has been medium roasted.
The advantage of buying from Volcanica is that you get specialty beans at affordable prices. They also roast all their beans to order and ship the same day to ensure freshness.
There aren’t many downsides to this decaf coffee, but as a blend, you won’t get the bright, floral flavors you might find in a single-origin coffee.
Volcanica House Blend Decaf is at $21.99 per 16 oz bag. It’s available as whole bean coffee or ground coffee.
2. Coffee Bros Decaf Roast Coffee – Best Single Origin
- Beans: Arabica
- Origin: Colombia
- Tasting notes: Graham crackers, semi-sweet chocolate
The Coffee Bros. company is an artisanal roaster based in New York. They offer a range of ethically spruced single-origin coffees, as well as their own carefully balanced blends.
Coffee Bors’ Decaf Roast Coffee uses single-origin beans from Colombia. They’re sourced from the Huila region, known for high-altitude, high-quality coffees. These beans are naturally processed, which gives them an inherent sweet and fruity character, then decaffeinated at the source via the ethyl acetate process.
Homegrounds recommends Coffee Bros. because they roast in small batches to ensure consistency. We also like that they support One Tree Planted and work towards a carbon-neutral operation.
The downside to buying these Colombian decaf coffee beans is that shipping is only available in the U.S.A. They also roast lighter than other brands, so if you’re looking for a true medium roast, this might not be the best decaf whole bean coffee for you.
Coffee Bros Decaf Roast Coffee is at $14.99 per 12 oz bag. It’s available as whole coffee beans only.
3. Volcanica Costa Rica Decaf Tarrazu Coffee – Best Value for Money
- Beans: Arabica
- Origin: Costa Rica
- Tasting notes: Apple, honey, tea
Volcanica Coffee is one of Homegrounds’ favorites because of its affordable prices for specialty coffees. Volcanica is sourcing these beans from the Tarrazu region of Costa Rica, the most famous growing region in the country, recognized for exceptional quality.
The 100% Arabica beans are harvested from a single estate, then wash processed to bring out the floral notes of the coffee. Decaf beans from Volcanica are always Swiss water processed, making them naturally decaffeinated coffee brands.
This is an excellent coffee for anyone who enjoys bright and light flavors, with tastes of apple, honey, and tea and a sweet floral finish. Volcanica roasts all their coffees to order, so you get the freshest beans possible.
The downside to the Volcanica Tarrazu Decaf is that it’s not as low in acid as some other decaffeinated beans, with a pH level of 5.1.
Volcanica Costa Rica Tarrazu Decaf is priced at $19.99 per 16 oz bag. It is available as whole bean coffee or ground coffee.
4. Kicking Horse Decaf Coffee – Budget Pick
- Beans: Arabica
- Origin: Central and South America
- Tasting notes: Roasted hazelnuts, chocolate
Kicking Horse Coffee is a high-end coffee provider focusing on organic products and sustainable practices. It doesn’t offer single-origin coffees, and instead, they focus on perfecting its in-house blends.
The brand’s decaf blend is made from 100% Arabica beans, sourced from Central and South America. The beans are decaffeinated using the Swiss water process, then dark roasted at the company’s Rocky Mountains headquarters.
This decaf coffee is an excellent choice for anyone who enjoys the rich flavor of a dark roast. Here you’ll enjoy deep chocolate notes with added complexity from roasted hazelnuts. It’s a versatile coffee that works well for French Press, pour-over, and espresso brewing. Like all Kicking Horse coffee, they’re 100% fair trade and organic coffee beans.
The only drawback to this coffee is that it’s sold as whole beans only, so you’ll need your grinder to enjoy it.
Kicking Horse Decaf Coffee is $8.62 for a 10 oz bag or $31.99 for a 2.2lb bag. It’s available as whole bean coffee only.
5. Irving Farm Decaf Blackstrap – Best for Espresso
- Beans: Arabica
- Origin: n/a
- Tasting notes: Maple, barley, golden raisin
The Irving Farm Blackstrap espresso has long been the roaster’s house espresso – on the espresso bar at all their cafes. The beans are also best sellers for home brewers, thanks to their wonderful versatility. Now they’ve released a decaf version for anyone looking for all the flavor with none of the jitters.
It’s a blend of different origins, but all are naturally processed and decaffeinated via the Swiss Water process. This is generally considered the cleanest way to decaffeinate coffee, because it doesn’t use any additional chemicals. It keeps the original character of the beans more than other methods.
The result is an inviting brew, equally at home in an espresso machine or drip coffee brewer. You’ll taste sweet maple, raisin, and brown sugar, but this is nicely balanced with notes of earthy barley and bright ripe berries. It’s a smooth coffee, with a full body and creamy mouthfeel. Here are some facts and tips on making decaf espresso.
6. Peet’s Decaf Mocca-Java – Best Dark Roast
- Beans: Arabica
- Origin: Ethiopia, Indonesia
- Tasting notes: Spice, bittersweet chocolate
Peet’s Coffee is one of the biggest players on the U.S. coffee scene but offers all the attention to detail you’d expect from a small roaster. All coffee you buy from Peet’s is roasted to order, sealed immediately, and shipped the same day, so you’ll receive beans that are as fresh as possible.
The Mocca-Java decaf is a blend of Arabica beans from Ethiopia and Indonesia. The blend comes from an old recipe designed to highlight the best of old world and new world coffees. The beans are natural and wet hull processed, then decaffeinated using the Swiss water process. They’ve been given a dark roast, making them an excellent choice for French press brewing.
Peet’s Decaf Mocca-Java is some of the best-tasting decaf coffee, with the full-body you would expect from regular coffee. Flavors of cocoa come from the Ethiopian beans, while the Javanese coffee adds notes of syrupy port and spices like cardamom.
The one negative comment that coffee lovers have about Peet’s Mocca-Java decaf is that the aftertaste is a little bitter, but that can be a characteristic of dark roasts.
Peet’s Decaf Mocca-Java is at $19.95 per 1 lb bag. It is available as whole beans or ground coffee.
7. Lifeboost Hazelnut Decaf – Best Flavored Decaf
Roast: not specified
- Beans: Arabica
- Origin: Nicaragua
- Tasting notes: Hazelnuts
Lifeboost Coffee is a favorite brand at Homegrounds due to its commitment to making coffee as healthy as possible. All Lifeboost coffee is certified organic, low-acid, non-GMO, and tested free of mycotoxins and pesticides.
The Lifeboost Hazelnut Decaf starts with single-origin Arabica beans sourced from high-altitude farms in Nicaragua. The beans are shade-grown, hand-picked, and hand washed.
After the beans are Swiss-water processed and roasted, Lifeboost adds the natural organic hazelnut flavor.
This organic decaf coffee is an excellent choice for anyone who needs to avoid caffeine and for anyone who has a sensitive stomach. It has a pH level of 6, making it considerably less acidic than regular coffee. It’s also the best-flavored decaf coffee for anyone who wants added flavor but wants to avoid the sugar and artificial additives found in flavored coffee syrups.
The downside to Lifeboost decaf coffee is that it’s much more expensive than other decaf coffees on our list.
Lifeboost Hazelnut Decaf coffee is at $28.95 per 12 oz bag. It is available as whole beans and ground coffee. Learn more about Lifeboost Coffee in our review.
8. Out of the Grey Kenyan AA – Best Medium Roast
- Beans: Arabica
- Origin: Kenya
- Tasting notes: Blackcurrant, fennel, black tea, menthol, floral
Out of the Grey is one of the rare brands that offers many of their best regular coffees as decaffeinated options. Whether you’re sensitive to caffeine or just looking for a tasty evening brew, they have a huge and appealing selection, including blends, specialty single origins, and flavored coffees.
Our current favorite? This Kenyan AA coffee, which has been naturally decaffeinated via the Swiss Water Process.
Kenya is renowned as one of the world’s top growing regions. It is blessed with the high elevations and temperate climate needed to grow high-quality specialty coffee. In particular, Keyan coffee is known for tea-like flavors, floral aromas, and sparkling acidity.
This coffee from Out of the Grey is a perfect example. It combines sweet blackcurrant with complex notes of fennel, black tea, and menthol. A delicate floral aroma and bright lemon acidity round out the experience. This unique brew stands out from the one-note decaf blends of old.
What Should Be Considered When Buying Decaf Coffee?
When buying decaf coffee, you should consider many things you usually would when choosing coffee. So, the following: flavor profile, how you plan to use it, and whether it fits your budget.
- Quality: just as with regular coffee, buying quality is a must. Look for a roaster with a good reputation that ships to order for freshness.
- Roast: different roast levels highlight different characteristics of the beans, and each one is suited to a different brewing method.
- Beans and origin: the type of bean and the country of origin will affect the flavor of your coffee.
- Price: decaf coffee is available at all price ranges, so just find one that’s right for you.
What is decaf coffee?
Decaf coffee is any coffee that has been processed to remove the caffeine that naturally occurs in the coffee bean. Decaf coffee contains up to 97% less caffeine than caffeinated coffee, but it’s important to note that there is no utterly caffeine-free coffee.
The decaffeination process is done at the green bean stage, using either a chemical solvent process, treatment with CO2, or the Swiss water method. After that, the beans are roasted and brewed as usual.
Related: What is Caffeine?
Decaf coffee is perfect for any coffee lover who wants the taste and benefits of regular coffee but needs to restrict their caffeine content. This includes pregnant women, children, and people with heart conditions, anxiety, insomnia, or irritable bowel syndrome.
The only difference between decaf coffee and regular coffee is that decaf won’t give you any energy boost. Otherwise, the two types of coffee share the same health benefits, including reduced risk of cancer and heart disease, and are a good source of antioxidants.
Doesn’t it taste different?
It depends on the way the coffee has been decaffeinated. Water decaffeination doesn’t alter the flavor profile as much as solvent-based methods. Of course, any process that your coffee goes through changes the flavor to a certain extent, but it’s probably not as noticeable now as it was years ago.
To snub a fine coffee for lack of caffeine is to completely miss the point of all the efforts that went into making it an enjoyable culinary experience.
How do you separate the caffeine from coffee?
There are four methods for separating caffeine from coffee, with the most popular being the Swiss water decaf process. It’s the most effective and safest method to make the healthiest decaf coffee.
Here’s a brief explanation of how the process works:
- Green beans are cleaned and pre-soaked and then immersed in hot water.
- The beans are discarded, and green coffee extract (G.C.E.) is left behind.
- The G.C.E. is run through a carbon filter to trap the caffeine.
- A fresh batch of green coffee beans is then cleaned, pre-soaked, and immersed in the green coffee extract.
- The caffeine in the new green coffee beans migrates into the extract, while the flavors and oils remain virtually untouched.
Ensure that your coffee comes explicitly from Swiss-water process decaf coffee brands, rather than those that claim it’s done by pure or natural processing:
Some products were labeled as “Pure” but testing by an independent lab revealed quantifiable amounts of the toxic chemical methylene chloride.
The Swiss Water Method (S.W.M. for short) of decaffeinating coffee is a certified organic process. It naturally removes 99.9% of the caffeine while keeping all flavors as unadulterated by the process as possible.
If you want to know more about the science, read our guide to how coffee is decaffeinated.
Thanks to the advance of chemical-free processing, and the commitment of quality coffee brands, it’s now much easier to get decaf coffee that tastes good. However, the Homegrounds pick for best decaf goes to Volcanica Coffee’s House Blend Decaf. Big on quality and low on price, this coffee proves that freshness and flavor don’t need to take a back seat just because you’re skipping the caffeine.
Other coffee options can suit your specific needs, whether dietary requirements, environmental concerns, or health benefits. Some of the specialty coffees you can buy are:
Organic coffee: certified organic coffee has been grown without chemical fertilizers or pesticides.
Low acid coffees: coffees treated or grown to have lower acidity levels, making them more suitable for people with stomach complaints.
Strongest coffees: coffees that are spruced or blended have high caffeine levels for an extra energy boost.
CBD coffee: coffee blended with CBD (cannabidiol) provides benefits, including pain relief and reduced anxiety.
Nootropic coffee: coffee blended with supplements to improve energy, focus, and concentration.
Yes, decaf coffee is healthy, and drinking decaffeinated coffee can even be healthier than regular coffee. Decaf coffee shares many health benefits as regular coffee, including a reduced risk of diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, depression, colon cancer, and type 2 diabetes. The best decaf coffee beans have the same nutritional value as coffee and contain vitamins and minerals beneficial for health, including protein, calcium, and magnesium.
The best decaf coffee for acid reflux is low acid coffee. Low acid coffees are either treated or sourced to be less acidic on the pH scale (we’re not talking about acidic tastes here). You might also want to try Sumatran coffees, which are naturally lower in acid. Another option is to brew your decaf coffee using the cold brew method, which reduces the acidity levels in coffee.