Decaf coffee is coffee that’s had most or all of its caffeine removed using a special extraction process that removes caffeine molecules but preserves the molecules that give coffee its flavor and health benefits.
It’s great if you want to take advantage of the health benefits of coffee but want to keep your caffeine intake under control.
Decaf (short for “decaffeinated”) is good for drinking in the evening, and if you consume other supplements or beverages that contain caffeine, particularly if you are sensitive to the negative effects of caffeine, which can include nausea and jitteriness.
Want the health benefits of coffee without the buzz? We’ve ranked the best-tasting and highest-quality decaf coffee on the market.
1. No Fun Jo Decaf
No Fun Jo Decaf is an excellent option for high-quality decaf coffee. This medium dark roast has many of the perks you’ll find in high-end specialty coffee that’s not decaffeinated, like 100% arabica beans, and organic and fair trade certifications. It’s pre-ground, so brewing a cup is a breeze.
2. Kicking Horse Coffee Decaf
Kicking Horse Coffee makes a dark roast that’s decaffeinated via the Swiss water process, which means there are no chemical solvents involved in the caffeine removal process.
These roasted whole beans have a deep, rich, chocolate-like flavor, making it a favorite among those who like a strong dark roast.
3. Seattle’s Best Coffee Portside Blend
Seattle’s Best Coffee Portside Blend is great if you want a smooth, medium roast. This decaf coffee has a middle-of-the-road flavor profile that’s acceptable to just about everyone, so it’s a good go-to for a post-dinner coffee for guests.
Unlike more bold and distinctive flavors, it’s hard to offend anyone’s taste sensibilities with this coffee.
4. Cafe Don Pablo Colombian Decaf
Cafe Don Pablo Colombian Decaf is a whole bean medium dark roast coffee that uses 100% arabica beans grown in Columbia.
The whole beans are great for making French press coffee, homemade espresso, or other preparations that call for non standard sizes of coffee grounds.
5. Jeremiah’s Pick Organic Decaf
Jeremiah’s Pick Organic Decaf is certified organic and uses a solvent-free caffeine extraction process.
The beans are ground and ready to use, and make a dark brew with an earthy but smooth flavor profile. For a dark roast that’s organic and chemical solvent-free, Jeremiah’s Pick is the way to go.
6. Organic Coffee Co Gorilla Decaf
Organic Coffee Co Gorilla Decaf makes a small-batch whole bean decaf coffee that’s decaffeinated using the Swiss water process.
Its organic certification and solvent-free decaffeination process makes it a great choice if purity is important to you.
7. Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Breakfast Blend
Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Breakfast Blend is the best option on the market if you want a decaf coffee that’s compatible with Keurig machines.
This bright and airy coffee is a light roast, unlike many of its competitors, and makes a fresh-flavored brew. Unless you prefer stronger and deeper roasts, look no further if you want a K-cup decaf coffee.
8. Kirkland Signature Decaffeinated Coffee
If what you need is a bulk source of decaf coffee that comes pre-ground, Kirkland Signature Decaffeinated Coffee is the way to go.
Specialty coffee aficionados might snub their nose at the blend, but you’ll get a consistent dark roast in every cup, and the quality doesn’t vary from batch to batch.
9. Starbucks Decaf Caffe Verona
You can save yourself the trouble of stopping by a Starbucks for decaf coffee with Starbucks Decaf Caffe Verona.
It’s a dark roast coffee, and like other decaf coffees made by big brands, the flavor profile is nothing special, but you get a very consistent cup of coffee from batch to batch, and the taste profile is acceptable to people with many different palates.
10. Solimo Decaf Breakfast Blend
Amazon’s own Solimo brand makes a vacuum-packed single use cup for Keurig coffee machines. While it’s a niche use, if you need a lightning-fast cup of decaf coffee, this is a great option.
The flavor is brisk and smokey, so it you are looking for a strong and bold cup of coffee that’s easy to make with a K-cup machine, look no further than Solimo.
Decaf coffee benefits and side effects
While the stimulant qualities of caffeine are valued by many coffee drinkers, some people are sensitive to caffeine or have particular reasons for limiting it. Fortunately, pretty much all of the health benefits for regular coffee apply to decaf coffee as well.
Decaf coffee does not have the negative side effects of caffeine. Decaf has 97% or more of the caffeine removed—the exact amount depends on the specific process used. The processes to remove caffeine can involve organic solvents, water, or carbon dioxide. (1)
The decaffeination process is initiated before coffee beans have been roasted, and substances like solvents are removed before heat is applied; color, taste and smell variations can sometimes occur as a result of the treatment, often making it less bitter.
Coffee normally contains between 70 and 140 mg of caffeine per cup, depending on serving size and preparation methods. (2)
Decaf coffee may not be completely free of caffeine; one study found the amount in a cup ranged between 0 mg and 7 mg. (3)
Decaf coffee is rich in antioxidants. Coffee has been fingered as a poor nutritional choice in the past, but studies show it is a rich source of antioxidants, and in some cases, it may well be the main source for individuals eating a typical Western diet. (4)
These antioxidants reduce damage in the body resulting from the presence of free radicals; research shows antioxidants like those in coffee may help reduce the risk of developing a number of chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, cancer and heart disease. (7, 8)
In addition to the antioxidants, expect coffee to deliver small amounts of these nutrients as well: potassium, magnesium, sodium, calcium and phosphorus. (9) If you’re drinking several cups of coffee daily, even the low amounts can add up quickly.
Many studies into coffee consumption have found similar health benefits for regular coffee and decaf coffee. However, not all studies analyze decaf coffee separately, so it can be difficult to make a distinction between the two when it comes to nutrition.
In general, though, research supports the idea that most of the benefits of coffee have to do with the antioxidants and other complex chemicals in coffee, not merely its caffeine content (just like the benefits of green tea extract aren’t confined to its caffeine content either).
One caveat with research into coffee drinking is that most of it is observational in nature. This means any potential benefits cannot always be proven to result from drinking coffee, but instead, are only associated with the habit.
Decaf coffee can reduce your risk for type two diabetes and protect the function of your liver. Both decaf and regular coffee appear to reduce the chances of developing type 2 diabetes, one of the most prevalent health issues in the modern world. In fact, each cup you drink could cut your risk by up to 7%. (10, 11).
Moreover, Liver enzyme levels in coffee drinkers often run lower than in people who don’t drink coffee; this could provide a protective effect on liver function. (12)
Decaf coffee can help you live longer and think sharper. The statistical difference is small, but perhaps significant: premature death, as well as death resulting from heart disease and stroke, are lower in coffee drinkers than for those who don’t imbibe. (13)
Cognitive function usually declines as we age, yet drinkers of both decaf and regular coffee fare better in keeping mental processes sharp than those who don’t. (14)
One study indicates the chlorogenic acid in coffee, which is present in both caffeinated and decaffeinated versions, may be responsible for this effect (17), while caffeine has been associated with a decreased risk of dementia. (18)
Decaf coffee can improve digestive health by cutting your risk for heartburn and reducing rates of colorectal cancer. Reflux or heartburn is a common problem for coffee drinkers, and studies show decaf clearly reduces the incidence of this painful and irritating issue. (19)
Downing two or more cups of decaf daily is linked with cutting the risk of developing colorectal cancer by nearly half. (20)
While decaf coffee is free of the jitteriness and nausea that can come along with drinking regular coffee, the downsides of decaf are mostly related to benefits you won’t get that you would’ve gotten in regular coffee, as a result of its caffeine content.
Most people who drink coffee regularly appreciate the effects of caffeine, which include a reduction in fatigue and an increase in alertness.
Some of the benefits associated with coffee come directly from caffeine, so drinkers of decaf won’t be able to cash in on these effects. These include a boost to metabolism, better fat-burning, better memory and reaction time, improved athletic performance, metabolic boost and increased levels of fat-burning (21, 22, 23)
In view of the extensive research done with regular coffee as compared to studies with decaf, new information in regard to potential benefits of drinking decaf may surface in the future.
When it comes to drinking coffee, intake is usually an issue of balancing regular coffee and its attendant caffeine leves with decaf coffee. Tolerance for caffeine is the main issue when it comes to coffee drinking. Individuals vary greatly in reactions to caffeine.
Some people may be able to drink half a dozen cups of caffeinated coffee daily without any ill effects, while others might feel jittery or overstimulated with a single cup.
Caffeine affects the central nervous system and sensitive individuals might experience any or all of these symptoms when they consume excessive amounts: heart arrhythmia, restlessness, insomnia, digestive problems or anxiety.
Pregnant women and those who are breastfeeding infants are usually advised to limit caffeine intake, and health authorities recommend that children, teenagers, and anyone who has trouble getting enough good quality sleep should avoid caffeine. (24) These individuals would do well to drink decaf coffee instead.
Caffeine can also interact negatively with certain medications, so it’s important to speak with your doctor to pinpoint how it may impact the effects of prescription medications you may currently be taking.
Coffee is more commonly consumed than any other beverage worldwide, with the exception of water. Health benefits are well-documented, and there’s no sound reason to avoid drinking coffee, even if you are sensitive to caffeine.
Decaf coffee has almost all the health benefits and none of the caffeine of regular coffee. These benefits include better digestive health, resistance to type two diabetes, and the strong antioxidant effects of decaf coffee’s chemical constituents. Drinking decaf coffee is an excellent way for people who need to limit caffeine to continue enjoying the flavor and benefits of coffee.