Many people turn to coffee for that warm, inner peace feeling but don't necessarily want or need the extra kick of caffeination. By United States law, Decaf coffee must have less than 2.5% of the original blends caffeination. Keep in mind, “less caffeine” does not mean “without flavor”, the avid coffee drinker can make the switch or partial switch to decaf coffee without punishing their taste buds with diluted brew. The common stereotype is that even the best decaf coffee, is still watered down. There may have been a hint of truth to that statement back in the early 1900's, but with coffee technology having evolved the way it has, full-flavored decaf coffee is now a full-blown reality. Here are a few tips to consider when setting out to chose the best decaf coffee blends.
1. Ease into Decaf Coffee
First off, for those looking to completely replace caffeinated coffee intake, it may be easier to do so gradually as opposed to just going cold turkey. If the goal is to get away from regular or frequent caffeinated coffee drinking, start by replacing one or two cups with decaf. At first, try leaving the first morning pot as the regular caffeination then begin by substituting one or two cups of decaf throughout the day. Setting real and attainable goals can greatly improve the likelihood a switch to decaf will stick. Going cold turkey is also more likely to bias your taste buds since your whole system may still be dealing with the reduced caffeine intake.
2. Trusted Brands
One common mistake many consumers make when looking to pick out decaf brew is not looking at the brands of coffee that they know and are used to drinking. They mistakenly think they have to reinvent the wheel entirely in order to find a palatable decaf option. Often times, be it k-cup or beans, major coffee manufacturers will have decaf varieties of their most popular caffeinated brews. Check this simple option first and avoid frustration and uncertainty in selecting the best full-flavored decaf coffee options.
3. Recommendations for the Best Full-flavored Decaf Coffee
One of the coffee lovers most time-tested method for finding new blends is to ask the experts. By experts, I mean the local coffee shop barista. What blends of decaf are they serving most? Which do they recommend? Often the most knowledgeable experts on different coffee profiles are the men and women serving it every day! Better yet, take a friend along for the full-flavored decaf discovery mission. Many times having a second person to bounce opinions off can reaffirm coffee brew selection. Or, try posting on social media, ask those that are currently drinking decaf coffee to guide you. Family and friend recommendations are also very useful but you need to be aware that everyone has their own preferences and taste profiles. That's part of why going to a barista is usually a good bet since they have a wider field of view when it comes to coffee recommendations. Along those lines, we've chimed in with our own recommendations of what we think are some of the most full flavored decaf on the market; that is, flavors that stay true to taste profile of their caffeinated versions.
4. Learn more about the decaf process
After having tried a few different options, an important next step can be learning more about the process of decaffeination. These methods have come a very long way since first being brought to market in 1900. However, the “decaf has no flavor” ideology still persists despite many improvements to caffeine extraction. One of the world's most popular and effective methods is the Swiss water process. There was a time in coffee's history when chemical solvents were used to extract caffeine from coffee beans. However, with the introduction of Swiss Water processing, coffee beans can be decaffeinated up to 99.9% without the use of chemicals.
Listed at the end of this article are additional resources for those wishing to learn more about the varying processes involved. Selecting the best decaf coffee option does not need to be difficult 🙂 Remember to look to those already drinking and serving decaf for advice. With a little trial and error, anyone can find a delicious decaf coffee blend as satisfying as their caffeinated counterparts.
1. “How Do You Decaffeinate Coffee Beans” by Ethan Trex
2. “How the Heck is Decaf Coffee Made” by Carly Ledbetter
3. “How to find a Decaf Coffee You’ll Actually Enjoy” by Christina Newberry