Low Caffeine Coffee VS. Decaf Coffee: Let’s Address The Perplexity!

Sometimes, confusion may arise in your mind about the differences between low caffeine coffee and decaf coffee. Though, some people think they are the same. But in reality, low caffeine coffee and decaffeinated coffee are quite different from each other. Hence we’ve brought you the low caffeine coffee vs. decaf coffee discussion!

Decaf coffee is that type of coffee gone through the decaffeination process to give it a final phase. On the other hand, naturally, some coffee beans contain a lowest level of caffeine than regular. We know them as low caffeine coffee. Reasons for this lower caffeine in coffee beans depend on many factors like soil, water level, sunlight, and overall, environment. However, all the actions and reasons for low-caffeine beans are not fully understood well yet.

naturally low caffeine coffee

Low Caffeine Coffee VS. Decaf Coffee: 3 Distinctions

Tastes and Flavors

Low caffeine coffees are delightfully light, with characteristics closer to tea. They offer delicious sweetness, more oils, and a refreshing level of acidity that has no bitterness, mainly because of their Arabica roots. The higher presence of oils also helps to mask the bitterness. You may also experience flavors and aromas such as papaya, plum, peach, and honey. Aroma profiles include wonderfully fragrant floral notes.

Decaf coffee tastes different from regular coffee too. And there are reasons for this, obviously. Decaffeination is an artificial process to remove caffeine from the beans. Caffeine is a bitter-tasting compound. So when it gets removed, the resulting overall coffee taste does change and becomes a tad muted. Even with this decrease, it may not be enough for everyone either. The decaffeination process removes at least a few other compounds also. As a result, coffee’s nuanced flavors do get inevitably lost during decaffeination and become flat. Decaf coffees are good mostly for their health benefits. Additionally, there are ways to preserve the flavors in the roasting and brewing stages.


On average, low-caffeine coffee contains about half the caffeine content of most other Arabicas. The fact that low-caffeine coffee plants are naturally grown, sun-dried, and roasted means they retain all of their natural flavors and tastes. Something is impossible for any of the decaffeination processes. The natural processing of low-caffeine coffee makes it a safer and healthier organic choice.

Since the decaf process is a man-made inorganic process, the decaf coffees come out lacking taste and aroma compared to regular caffeinated coffee. Decaf can sometimes be described as toasty, burned, and cardboard-like.

Caffeine Content

Low-caffeine coffee contains just over 6–8 times more caffeine content than decaf (US 97%). Meaning, it can still cause sleep disruptions. But when compared to Robusta, low-caffeine coffee has 5–6 times less caffeine, which is low and safe enough for overwhelming numbers of drinkers. The excellent thing about low caffeine coffee is that it doesn’t undergo any processing that negatively impacts its taste. Let’s take a look at the caffeine content amounts in various coffee types below.

Coffee TypeCaffeine Content (mg.)Serving Size (oz.)
Robusta (drip brew)2006
Arabica (drip brew)1306
Instant Coffee1006
Arabica Robusta Blends (drip brew)606
Low Caffeine Coffee (Bourbon Pointu)356
99.9% Euro Decaf166~7
US 97% Decaf66~7

Low Caffeine Coffee

Low caffeine coffee is just a term that is used by producers to describe coffees that aren’t decaffeinated. It’s a substantially lower-caffeine drink than an average coffee.

Low caffeine coffees are typically grown by evaluating the caffeine levels of different bean lots first. Then the agronomists pick the best flavor profile from those lots and also those that are lowest in caffeine naturally. Arabica coffee is widely known for its exotic tastes. It’s also naturally lower (40–50%) in caffeine count than most other coffees.

Many varieties of Arabica now offer low-caffeine coffee options. This is an ideal solution for those who do not want to embrace decaf fully. Given various environmental factors, certain beans will grow with less caffeine than others, thus creating an opportunity to naturally farm more low-caffeine coffee. Typically, Asian coffee producers are more into low-caffeine coffee than Western producers.

Decaffeination Processes

Decaffeinated coffee is a form of coffee that removes caffeine content through several inorganic processes. Not only this process reduces the caffeine content but also removes unpleasant side effects such as headaches and jitteriness. Three methods of decaffeination are:

The Ethyl Acetate Process: The ethyl acetate solvent is used to decaffeinate ground-roasted coffee beans under certain temperatures and pressures.

The Swiss Water Process (SWP): Invented by George Constant Louis Omas in 1940, it uses only water to eradicate caffeine from coffee beans.

The Carbon Dioxide Process (CDP): At a specific pressure and temperature, it soaks the green coffee beans in carbon dioxide. It’s an odorless and tasteless process. But it can affect some organic components of the green beans.

Different processes lead to different tastes and flavor profiles than standard-processed coffee. People drink decaf because they’re sensitive and cannot metabolize the chemicals. Regular coffee works against their body chemistry and creates an adverse effect on their stomachs.


Is there any decaf coffee that is 100% caffeine-free?

Any coffee that has undergone the Swiss Water Decaf process is almost 100% caffeine-free. So, check for the decaf process on the labels before purchasing.

Which decaf coffee has the least amount of caffeine?

Of the three well-known decaf processes, the Swiss Water Decaf is certified to make 99.9% caffeine-free beans. It’s also a safer, water-only, and chemical-free process.

What type of coffee bean has the lowest caffeine?

Arabica and its many known-unknown variants do possess some of the lowest-caffeine beans.

Which coffee is naturally low in caffeine?

One of the lesser-known Arabica variants, the Laurina, also known as Bourbon Pointu, is one such variety of naturally low-caffeine coffee.

Does low-acid coffee have less caffeine?

Yes. Naturally, dark-roasted coffees are low in acid and also lower in caffeine.

Is decaf coffee really free of caffeine?

It is almost free of caffeine, more accurately. The US standard decaf requires beans to be 97% decaf and 99% in the European standard.

Final Words

Some coffee producer companies are trying to produce more variants of low caffeine beans. Asian consumers have been showing more desire for a lesser amount of caffeine than western consumers.

Coffee has numerous health benefits including the lesser risk of having type 2 diabetes, heart disease, etc. Despite that, too much caffeine can cause some health issues too. Such as nervousness, headaches, anxiety, insomnia, muscle twitching, etc. Sometimes doctors suggest a low amount of caffeine for a particular scenario. Both the best decaf coffee and the best low caffeine coffee can serve your purpose.

Enjoy your coffee!!!

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