is decaf coffee completely free of caffeine

Is Decaf Coffee Completely Free of Caffeine? 4 Facts


Is decaf coffee completely free of caffeine?

A lot of people think that decaf coffee is completley free of caffeine when it is actually opposite to popular belief. Decaffeinated coffee is not completely free of caffeine, and it does contain trace amounts of caffeine which in turn make it  99% caffeine free. Continue reading more below;

After knowing about decaf coffee you might be keen on trying it as a caffeine free substitute for your regular coffee cup.

However, don't rush in quickly for the change if you're looking to completely cut off caffeine content from your diet as you don't know is decaf coffee completely free of caffeine or not?

However, the fact is that a cup of decaf coffee contains minimal amount of caffeine in it.

According to regulations for decaf by USDA, the decaf coffee shouldn't exceed 0.10 percent caffeine on dry basis. Also when comparing brewed decaf and regular coffee, the decaf coffee has around 97-99% caffeine drawn out.

For putting it into perspective, the average 12-ounce (354 ml) coffee cup has around 180 mg caffeine and you can get around 5.4 mg caffeine in the decaffeinated variety.

The caffeine content present in your decaf coffee cup is dependent on decaffeination process and the bean type used.

A few reliable methods have been used for decaffeination of coffee, with the common one being the solvent extraction method.

After the green coffee beans get dried out and harvested prior to the roasting process, they get soaked in the solution having the solvent, typically ethyl acetate or methylene chloride, which binds quite well to the molecules of caffeine and also leaches pushes it out.

The mixing of chemicals might appear unsafe for consumption, but only trace amounts are present by the end of decaffeination along with the roasting process.

Both Ethyl acetate and methylene chloride have been considered as safe in accordance with the FDA and while methylene chloride is potentially a carcinogen it is found in safe amounts in decaffeinated coffee only at 10 parts in a million.

Other methods of extraction involves drawing out caffeine through only using water (Swiss water method), or through pressurized form of carbon dioxide.

Why Decaf Coffee is bad for you?

The decaf coffee, or decaffeinated coffee is lot more similar in appearance and taste like a conventional coffee but it doesn't have a lot of caffeine, this is why many people drink decaf coffee.

Also there isn't any evidence for that suggestion that drinking decaf coffee has negative impacts on anyone's health. In a 2017 study 201 meta-analyses observational research was done for consumption of coffee.

The research authors concluded that the decaf coffee didn't present any harmful effects on health. With decaf coffee you load all the goodness of a coffee cup such as the antioxidants minus the caffeine.

In a study by PuMed of decaf coffee consumption, the result presented showed lessened risk of development of rectal cancer.

Also a study done on rats presented that rodents that got supplemented with the coffee had better performance in cognition tasks compared to the ones without.

Both caffeinated and decaf coffee helps in protection of brain neurons and prevents diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

Decaf coffee also lowers the mortality because of the positive impact on various risk factors such as depression and inflammation.

While many regular coffee sippers can have negative health impacts like heartburn, reflux, sleeplessness, anxiety, etc. the milder decaf coffee sippers don't worry about these. Overall, decaf is a milder coffee alternative.

Why Does Decaf Coffee Still Has Caffeine?

Let's get into this: You might be thinking why caffeine is present in the first place in the decaffeinated coffee variety. The nature of decaffeination process is to blame for the coffee.

The process is quite complicated long and imperfect. According to Nathan Arnold, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) spokesperson, it is next to impossible to completely get the caffeine content out of the coffee bean.

Let's understand caffeine extraction processes for knowing why still after the process, decaf coffee has a little amount of caffeine left in it.

The caffeine amount removed depends on how much force was present for drawing out the caffeine molecules from coffee. For preparing decaf coffee multiple extraction rounds occur.

Total number of rounds along with involved chemical processes and other steps involved can also vary. However, it isn't feasible to extract the left out caffeine molecules in coffee.

In general, whenever you're trying to get the chemicals separated, getting 100% Extraction is very difficult, especially in the case of caffeine.

And this force generated through solvents lessens after the beans start leaching out caffeine. It means after single decaffeination round, the coffee beans have lesser caffeine, making them increasingly difficult for removing caffeine.

The final outcome is coffee with diminished caffeine, and removing the final bits is next to impossible.

Which Decaf Coffee has Least Caffeine?

For answering the common query, "which is the best decaffeinated coffee containing the least amount of caffeine", we have to split the answer up depending on the process of decaffeination.

  • The CO2 "Sparkling Water" Decaf Coffee Process
  • Decaffeinating Process with methylene chloride
  • Decaffeinating Coffee Process with Swiss Water

From the highest one to low caffeine levels, the processes along with the decaffeination amounts are:

  • Highest: Methylene Chloride process makes decaffeination of around 96 to 97%. The final product i.e. coffee is around 96 to 97% caffeine free and under this process the solvent known as Methylene Chloride is used for separation of caffeine from the coffee beans.
  • Unknown: The amount of decaffeination in C02 process isn't clear and much information isn't available for the amount of caffeine in the CO2 decaffeinated coffee. The process is often known as "sparkling water" as it uses the CO2 for removal of caffeine through green coffee beans rather than using chemical solvent.
  • Lowest decaffeinated coffee with process: The decaffeination process of Swiss Water ensures a 99.9% certified caffeine free coffee that only uses water instead of chemicals for decaffeinating beans.

Thus anyone looking to consume the decaf coffee which has next to "zero caffeine" must try the Swiss Water decaffeinated coffee.

Recommended Article: Best High Quality Decaf Coffee


Despite having a poor past reputation, the truth about coffee is that the most effects is has is definitely good.

The coffee is linked to a number of health advantages mainly attributed the significant amount of antioxidants along with other beneficial substances.

However, it isn't easy to determine certain health effects by the decaf coffee.

This is due to the fact that a lot of studies has assessed intake of coffee without even distinguishing between the decaf and regular coffee, and a few don't also include the decaf coffee.

Also, a lot of such studies are quite observational and they can't prove that the benefits are occurring due to the coffee, and only consuming coffee has been related to these.

Both decaf and regular coffee consumption is linked with less type 2 diabetes risk with daily each cup minimizing risk till 7%. When we're concerned with daily coffee consumption, it mostly depends on how our body responds to caffeine.

If you don't have the side effects, you can carry on with your daily intake. (3 to 4 cups are generally enough).

When you're looking to have a milder version - both in experience and taste, then you can try the decaf.

And when ingestion of chemicals don't sound appealing, you can check for certified organic seal for asking the local coffee shop whether they're stocking organic or you can know about their bean processing method.

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