Coffee is a morning ritual for many people. Some like to start their day with a strong cup of coffee while others enjoy a decaffeinated cup. But what happens when you remove the caffeine from coffee? Does it still have the same effects? Keep reading to find out.
Caffeine is a magical little molecule that has the ability to keep us energized and focused throughout the day. But what happens when we want to enjoy a cup of coffee without all of the caffeine? Decaffeinated coffee, alternatively known as ‘Decaf coffee’, goes through the decaffeination process and the amount of caffeine in it is very small. Read on to learn more about how decaffeination works and how much caffeine is actually left in decaf coffee.
The amount of caffeine in decaffeinated coffee is 1-2% of the original caffeine. It can be up to 20% based on requirements. Generally, 1% to 2% of the original caffeine amount exists in decaffeinated beans. But as per demands, the amount of caffeine can be 20%.
Sometimes people get confused about the process. Therefore, the question arises, does decaffeinated coffee still have caffeine in it? And the answer is ‘Yes’. There is still caffeine in decaf coffee but a very small amount.
What’s Decaffeinated Coffee?
Decaf coffee sounds like a typical GMO product with scary implications attached. But, wait! It’s much simpler than this! The decaffeination of coffee is a man-made process of extracting caffeine from coffee beans. The process involves various approaches, resulting in a nearly caffeine-free coffee with a changed taste and flavor profile. There are 4 main methods of decaffeination: water processing, direct solvent method, indirect method, and the supercritical carbon dioxide method.
Each method extracts almost similar percentages of caffeine. Each method brings a subtle taste and flavor difference as well. Aside from the subdued taste, decaf actually benefits consumers in the long run. While you may hear arguments for regular coffee offering more benefits, it shouldn’t deter you from trying out decaf in your coffee routine.
The Decaffeination Methods
As already mentioned, there are 4 major processes for decaffeination. Let’s learn about them but briefly.
Swiss Water Process:
It doesn’t use any chemicals (directly or indirectly) to remove caffeine. Invented in 1933, it became a commercially viable process in 1988. The beans are steamed to release their caffeine. Then they’re soaked in over saturated coffee compound water to draw the caffeine into the water. Next, this water goes through an activated charcoal filter to capture all the larger caffeine molecules. Once finished, the beans go into a slow drying phase.
Direct Solvent Process:
In this process, the coffee beans do come into direct contact with the chemicals, raising concern from critics and consumers alike. The beans are steamed for half an hour. They are then rinsed for 10 hours, repeatedly, in either Methylene Chloride or Ethyl Acetate. Since the beans are roasted at 400 degrees and brewed at 200 degrees, the chance of leftover chemicals is very low.
Indirect Solvent Process:
The beans are soaked in hot water for an indirect solvent process. It releases the caffeine and all the other components into the water. Then the water gets transferred to a different tank full of solvents, which removes only the caffeine in the water. The solvents get skimmed off the top of the water. Thus, it never comes into direct contact with the beans. The flavor-laden water is then poured back into the beans to reabsorb the flavors from the water.
Carbon Dioxide Process:
Carbon dioxide is used instead of chemicals here. The coffee beans are soaked in water in a sealed stainless steel container. Liquid CO2 is then forced into the coffee container at 1,000 pounds of pressure per square inch. The CO2 solvent dissolves and draws only the caffeine. This caffeine-packed CO2 is then transferred to another container, to separate the caffeine molecules from the CO2.
Caffeine in Decaffeinated Coffee
According to the United States Food and Drug Administration, in 8 US fl. oz (237 mL) cup of decaf coffee, there are 2 to 15 milligrams of caffeine. The United States standard of decaffeination is a reduction of 97% caffeine. Whereas, the European Union standard is 99.9% caffeine-free coffee.
Let’s talk about a study that showed the amount of caffeine in a cup of regular coffee commensurate with the amount of caffeine of fourteen to twenty cups of decaf coffee.
The study was performed multiple times in controlled environments. The regular cup of coffee 16 US fl. oz (473 mL) contained 8.6 to 13.9 milligrams of caffeine. The aggregated data showed the ‘mg of caffeine’ is equivalents to fourteen to twenty cups decaf.
The requirement of caffeine level in decaf varies from country to country. Like- Canada allows 0.1% caffeine in decaffeinated coffee. The amount is 0.3% for decaffeinated instant coffee.
Crucial Health Benefits of Decaf Coffee
- Decaf coffee has also shown the ability to lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes in medical studies. Meaning, decaf coffee can be just as beneficial as regular coffee.
- Caffeine is a powerful stimulant that damages sleep schedules, raising the risk of insomnia. So, switching to decaf can definitely help to reduce such a risk. Ditching caffeine can also help you lower your anxiety and raise your overall energy level.
- Switching to decaf is more plausible because it still contains the same antioxidants as regular coffee. However, decaf has a slightly lower antioxidant content due to the decaffeination process.
- Since regular coffee is quite acidic, it can often lead to heartburn, bowel syndrome, and other uncomfortable side effects. Decaf coffee is aiding here since it’s low in acidity too! So, sufferers from chronic heartburn and GERD can switch to decaf to reduce flare-ups of acid reflux.
- Decaf can also reduce the risk of getting cardiovascular diseases. As high caffeine content can worsen heart problems with its stimulating effects, decaf doesn’t carry such an issue.
Which decaf coffee has the least caffeine?
Only the Swiss Water processed decaf beans have the least caffeine content, as this process removes 99.9% of caffeine.
Is decaffeinated coffee as good as caffeinated?
In terms of taste and flavor, no. In terms of health benefits, yes. Because decaf only lacks caffeine, but it retains all the beneficial oils and antioxidants.
Does decaf raise blood pressure?
No, because it lacks any caffeine content. Regular and high-caffeine coffee cause blood pressure with their caffeine-stimulating effects.
What are the side effects of drinking decaf coffee regularly?
Decaf has the potential to cause rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, and increase the body’s cholesterol level.
Does decaf coffee cause inflammation?
When it comes to reducing inflammation, there seems to be no difference between regular and decaf coffee.
Does Folgers Decaf coffee have any caffeine?
Folgers decaf blend is 99.7% caffeine free. So, in a 6-ounce cup, there would be 0.24 milligrams of caffeine.
If we look back, commercially, the decaffeination process started in 1903. Though it sounds the same, low caffeine coffee and decaf coffee are not the same things. Low caffeine coffee is natural coffee beans with a lesser amount of caffeine.
With a good number of health benefits, caffeine of coffee has some shortcomings too. So, decaf coffee becomes the first choice when excessive amount of caffeine is not good for health.
Enjoy your coffee!!!