In This Article
In This Article
Yes, decaffeinated coffee contains caffeine. Despite what its name suggests, decaf coffee isn’t completely caffeine-free. Instead, you can consider it a low-caffeine drink.
Like regular coffee, decaf coffee uses unroasted green coffee beans. The coffee beans go through a process of reducing their caffeine content or decaffeination.
It has significantly less caffeine than your regular cup of joe. It may not have the same kick as regular coffee, but the taste and aroma definitely linger, making it popular among those who like the coffee smell and taste but can’t handle the caffeine content.
While there still aren’t enough studies to show whether decaf coffee has negative side effects, some research suggests it may benefit your health like a typical cup of coffee.1
Decaf coffee has 97% of its caffeine removed. On average, the caffeine in decaf coffee ranges from 2 to 7 mg of caffeine per 8 oz serving.
How much caffeine is in decaf coffees depends on the coffee bean and the decaffeination process. Decaffeination strips unroasted coffee beans in one of four ways:
You’ll need to steam the coffee beans first for 30 minutes to make them receptive to a solvent. Then, you’ll repeatedly rinse them with solvent for about 10 hours to strip the caffeine.
You’ll soak the coffee beans in near-boiling water for several hours to strip the flavor and oils, including the caffeine. Then, you’ll drain and separate the water.
You’ll use the solvent to strip the caffeine-laden water before letting the beans re-absorb the other elements from it.
It is a chemical-free way of decaffeinating coffee beans. It only uses water through the process of diffusion.
Diffusion is a common term in Biology. It describes the movement of molecules from an area with higher concentration to a space with lower concentration.
Swiss water process uses diffusion to move the caffeine from the green unroasted beans to the water surrounding it.
The process involves carbon dioxide (CO2) to draw the caffeine out from the coffee beans. The beans are placed in an extraction chamber.
The chamber is sealed and the liquid CO2 applies pressure to the beans at 1,000 pounds per square inch.
Your regular coffee has around 95 mg of caffeine per 8 oz cup.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cited that about four to five cups of coffee or 400 mg of caffeine is generally okay for an average person’s health.2
However, it still depends on whether you’re caffeine sensitive. Caffeine sensitivity can cause your body to react even to small amounts of caffeine.
Intolerance to coffee is pretty common, affecting up to 20% of Americans.
“Coffee intolerance is synonymous with coffee sensitivity. Coffee allergy on the other hand, is the more severe form of reaction towards coffee,” explains our in-house medical expert, Dr. Rizza Mira.
Symptoms of caffeine sensitivity may include palpitations or racing heartbeat, skin rashes, abdominal pains and cramps, and so on.3
Decaffeinated coffee became first commercially available in Germany in 1906.
A merchant named Ludwig Roselius invented ways to remove caffeine from coffee. His father’s doctor explained that a chronic high coffee intake caused his father's demise.
Decaf coffee has been a popular drink among the elderly since then. Switching to a decaf brew helps them lessen caffeine without giving up drinking coffee.
Studies show that coffee can cause an increase in your blood pressure when consumed in high amounts. It can also make you palpitate, leading to faster or irregular heartbeats.4
“Any substance when consumed excessively produces harm,” says Dr. Mira.
Mainly, people of older age want to avoid health issues like high blood pressure or heart problems, so they minimize their caffeine intake.
However, recent statistics from the American National Coffee Association show a surge in decaf coffee consumption among younger generations.
Gen Z and millennials are two age groups that have largely switched to decaf.
It may not be so surprising since word about millennials prioritizing their health and wellness is all over social media.5
Millennials are becoming warier of the side effects of too much caffeine on their general well-being, like jitters, insomnia, anxiety, and so on.
They prefer a boost of energy from decaf coffee and other coffee alternatives.
Decaf coffee contains caffeine naturally extracted from coffee beans. It has the same substances as coffee, like magnesium.
Despite the difference in caffeine levels, studies suggest that decaf and regular caffeinated coffee share common health benefits, such as:
Decaf is rich in vitamin B3 or Niacin. It’s an essential component of the B vitamin complex, helping flush out toxins produced when you’re stressed.
Decaf coffee contains a plant compound called polyphenols. Polyphenols are excellent antioxidants.
“Antioxidants are important scavengers of free radicals in the heart, blood vessels and brain.” They can protect against the damaging effects of diseases like heart disease and diabetes,”6 says Dr. Mira.
Besides, they greatly help improve brain functions like memory and learning.7
Diabetes is a chronic health problem affecting your body’s insulin production and usage. It has two types: 1 and 2. With type 2 diabetes, your body doesn’t respond as it should to insulin.
A study shows that decaf can improve your body's sensitivity to insulin. It can help with insulin resistance and lower your risk of type 2 diabetes.8
Like regular coffee, you can consume decaf safely and add it to your daily diet. Researchers suggest that decaf coffee doesn’t appear to have any harmful side effects.
If you’re wondering whether decaffeinating coffee is safe, that’s another resounding yes.
Some ways to decaffeinate coffee beans are solvent-based processes. The most commonly used solvents are methylene chloride or ethyl acetate.
The FDA regulates the decaffeination process. Per the agency’s meticulous standard, the process should not leave unsafe minute traces of solvents.
The agency measures these traces and should not exceed ten parts per million of solvent.9
Drinking decaf may have more advantages than regular coffee regarding your health. Too much coffee can have side effects affecting some health conditions, like sleep and mood disorders.
Since decaffeinated coffee has less caffeine, it may not cause sleep disturbances and jitters. It also ups your energy without the unnecessary slump.
Drinking decaf coffee may work for you if you want an energy boost without unpleasant side effects like jitters.
However, some say that decaf tastes slightly different from the regular cup. If your palate’s craving the traditional flavor and you can detect even the smallest difference, you may not find decaf coffee as enticing as the regular brew.
Caffeine isn’t all bad for you. Studies even suggest they can benefit your health by helping fight inflammation. It can potentially help prevent cardiovascular and degenerative diseases.
But like everything we consume, too much is not good. The safe amount of caffeine consumption is 400 mg or about four to five cups a day.
Drinking beyond the recommended amount may already affect your physical and mental well-being.
For instance, studies suggest that too much coffee may make you feel symptoms similar to that of a panic attack, like:10
Make sure to stick to that figure to maximize caffeine's potential health benefits.
If you’re planning to reduce your caffeine intake, there are other beverages you can drink instead of coffee, like black tea.
These coffee alternatives can give you the alertness and awakeness you want from your usual morning routine.