What Is Decaf Coffee? (+Its Pros and Cons)
You’ve probably heard the saying, “Death before decaf.” After all, isn’t the whole point of coffee the caffeine buzz?
While caffeine is a great added bonus, here at Home Grounds, we’re beyond passionate about coffee for its flavor, the intellectual discussions it sparks, the people it brings together, and the farmers whose livelihood it supports.
For us, coffee is more than just caffeine. It’s a way of life. But what if you want to enjoy a great cuppa after dinner and don’t want the sleepless night that’ll inevitably follow? Enter decaf coffee.
Keep reading for an explainer on what decaf coffee is and its benefits.
Decaf vs. Regular Coffee
While regular coffee has caffeine, decaf, or decaffeinated coffee, contains only trace amounts of caffeine. Depending on the process that’s used for decaffeination, some decaffeinated coffee beans contain as little as one percent caffeine (1).
Regular coffee beans undergo a meticulous process of harvesting, processing, and roasting. Their decaffeinated cousins have to go through a few more specialized steps before they’re ready to be roasted.
SEE ALSO: Where Does Caffeine Come From?
In the Swiss water method of decaffeination, for instance, green coffee beans are soaked in pure water to create a green coffee extract. The company claims that this removes the caffeine while leaving behind the all-important flavor compounds.
We create our Green Coffee Extract just once, made out of fresh water and all the soluble solids within coffee (minus the caffeine).
If you’re curious about the entire decaffeination process, read more here on how decaf is made.
What Are the Benefits of Decaf Coffee?
Since decaf coffee contains no caffeine, you can enjoy decaf cold brew and decaf espresso any time you like. So if you’re like many of us on the Home Grounds team, who drink coffee as a way to unwind after a long day, then decaf coffee is essential to your coffee collection. Decaf coffee is also gentler on your stomach (2).
Because caffeine stimulates the muscular contractions that aid digestion, drinking decaf coffee will prevent any digestive discomfort.
Lastly, decaf coffee may be better for your heart. Studies have shown that excessive caffeine intake can cause heart palpitations, an abnormally rapid, irregular heartbeat. So by drinking decaf coffee, you may prevent further heart complications down the road.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Decaf Coffee?
Though it’s great to be able to enjoy a decaf latte or long black whenever you like, there are some drawbacks to decaf coffee.
Because caffeine is a stimulant, drinking decaf coffee won’t give you that extra boost of energy. Nor will it lift your mood or improve concentration.
Also, because green coffee beans undergo a decaffeination process before they’re roasted, many decaf coffees can be lacking in flavor or taste “off” if you’re used to regular coffee (3). Watch a video of a decaf coffee taste test here.
With that being said, decaf coffee still contains all the antioxidants found in regular coffee and has been shown to share many of the same health benefits. For example, it may decrease your risk of developing colorectal cancer (2).
There you have it: a brief explanation of decaf coffee. While many people drink it black, don’t be afraid to substitute decaf coffee for the regular stuff in any of your favorite coffee-based drinks.
What’s your most decadent way to enjoy decaf coffee? Let us know in the comments or in our Home Grounds Facebook group.
- Our Chemical-Free Decaffeination Process | Swiss Water. (2021). Swisswater.com. https://www.swisswater.com/pages/coffee-decaffeination-process
- Franziska Spritzler. (2017, August 14). 9 Side Effects of Too Much Caffeine. Healthline; Healthline Media. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/caffeine-side-effects#TOC_TITLE_HDR_4
- Hill, E., & Thomson, J. R. (2014, February 26). Decaf Coffee Taste Test: The Good, The Bad And The Really, Really Bad. HuffPost; HuffPost. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/decaf-coffee-taste-test_n_4855626