The Difference Between Decaf and Regular Coffee Explained


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Coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world. And many people enjoy drinking coffee due to its flavors and caffeine content

But some people work around the clock to limit caffeine intake for health and personal preference reasons. It is the reason behind the rapid switch from regular coffee to decaffeinated counterpart. 

So, what is the main difference between decaf and regular coffee? Decaf coffee has about 7mg of caffeine in a single cup, and regular coffee has at least 70mg of caffeine in a single cup.

This article provides further differences between decaf and regular coffee in a tabular form. Let’s find that out together below:

Focus the difference between decaf and regular coffee

Comparison Table (Decaf vs Regular Coffee)

Basic TermsDecaf CoffeeRegular Coffee
Caffeine Content0-7mg per cup70-140mg per cup
Antioxidants LevelLess in number (about 15% lower than regular coffee)More in number
TasteFlat and wateryStrong and bitter
Acidity LevelFlat pH level of 5.0(Making it more acidic.)Average pH level of 5.0 (Making it less acidic.)
Side EffectsIncrease bad cholesterol level in the body.
Aggravate Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Increase heart and breathing rate.
Causes insomnia and restlessness.
 CostMore expensiveQuite affordable

What is Decaf?

Decaf is an abbreviation of decaffeinated coffee. It is a type of coffee drink where at least 98% of the caffeine content has been removed from the coffee beans. 

The caffeine content in the coffee beans is removed by using organic solvents, water, and carbon dioxide. Swiss Water Process is the most popular method of eliminating caffeine from coffee beans. 

The coffee beans are first washed in the organic solvent to extract caffeine and rinse in water to remove the solvent. The process is later followed by either roasting or grinding the coffee beans.

Keep in mind that the nutritional value remains intact despite the extraction of caffeine content. Besides that, the taste and smell become a little milder than that of regular coffee. 

Decaf coffee is a real gem for people who are less tolerant to the smell and bitter taste of regular brew. And this beverage is the perfect option for limiting caffeine intake into the body.

How is Decaf Made?

Decaf coffee has some close similarities with regular coffee. The only difference is that a large percentage of caffeine has been extracted from decaf coffee. 

Green coffee beans are steamed in a series of organic solvents to extract most of its caffeine elements. This process is called “Swiss Water Method,” which the most preferred and commonly used decaffeination process nowadays.

These organic solvents, or rather say “extracts,” are not scary since they are mostly extracted from bananas, apples, and in this case, coffee.

The process starts from soaking a batch of green coffee beans in water. When the water is saturated with all the soluble compounds, the caffeine is then separated with carbon. The remaining liquid is now referred to as the green coffee extract.

This green coffee extract is then added to a new set of fresh green coffee beans. This is where the science works, where the coffee extract pulls out the caffeine from the beans until they’re entirely caffeine-free.

The coffee beans are later rinsed in clean water to remove traces of organic solvents and caffeine. Finally, the coffee beans are dried and roasted like those of regular coffee. Keep in mind that the process of extracting caffeine won’t be a hundred percent. 

According to research, decaf coffee has about 7mg of caffeine in a single cup, and regular coffee has at least 70mg of caffeine. That means your decaf isn’t totally caffeine free.

Is Decaffeinated Coffee Bad for You?

Decaf coffee is a perfect option for those who don’t want the strong and bitter taste of caffeine. The good news is that this coffee does not cause any harmful effects to people, even to those who are heavy drinkers. 

However, decaffeinated coffee is made by the use of methylene chloride. The chemical substance has raised concern among many coffee lovers across the world. 

Inhalation of a small amount of methylene chloride could temporarily slow down the hand-to-eye coordination and central nervous system activities. 

But luckily, mild exposure has less severe symptoms. According to the Food and Drug Administration, a small percentage of methylene chloride in the final product has no adverse effect. 

In the end, decaf coffee is safe for drinking since it comes with a lot of health benefits. The coffee beverage contains antioxidant properties that protect the body against free radicals that cause cancer.

Can Decaf Coffee Keep You Awake?

Focus the difference between decaf and regular coffee

Caffeine is responsible for both mental and body alertness. Taking coffee drinks before bed would impair the quality of your nighttime sleep. And this is a common issue among individuals that love regular coffee. 

However, decaf coffee, in this case, has negligible caffeine content. Studies show that decaffeinated coffee has a lower caffeine element, which helps a person experience better sleep quality. 

Most of the time, this usually depends on the type of process used to decaffeinate the coffee beans. Some decaffeinating process uses substances that make people fall asleep despite taking a full cup of coffee.

On the contrary, the fact that not all of its caffeine content is removed, individuals who are super sensitive to this compound can still react to it in any way. 

But after all, one thing for sure. If you love coffee that much but want to limit caffeine intake, decaf might be the best option.

If you want to know more about the effects of coffee on your sleep, you can read can coffee make you fall asleep for more details.

What are the Benefits of Decaf Coffee?

Coffee beans have antioxidant compounds marked with numerous health benefits. These active substances are present in both regular and decaf coffee. 

Drinking decaf coffee more often helps to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and premature death among coffee lovers. The antioxidant substances have a protective effect on the body. 

Besides that, the chlorogenic acid in decaf coffee reduces the risk of neurodegenerative diseases. The chemical compound also protects against age-related mental issues. 

Decaf coffee causes less acidic reflux and heartburn when compared to regular coffee. Regular intake of decaf coffee also helps to reduce the risk of developing rectal cancer.

Decaf vs. Regular Coffee

While decaf coffee is also a beverage made from coffee beans, it doesn’t mean it can be the same as a regular brewed coffee. They are different from each other at some point.

Taste

Regular and decaf coffee have different tastes. Regular coffee has a strong smell, flavor, and bitter taste due to the high content of caffeine. 

Decaf coffee has a flat and weaker taste due to the absence of caffeine and other crucial substances. The decaffeination process is the reason behind the loss of these crucial substances in decaf coffee. This makes it an ideal choice for those who don’t enjoy the bitter sensation and pungent smell of a regular brew.

Caffeine Content

Both decaf and regular coffee have caffeine. But the caffeine content is what makes these two coffee beverages quite different. 

Decaf coffee has about 0-7mg of caffeine, and regular coffee has at least 70mg of this caffeine element. The variation of caffeine content is what brought about the difference in tastes and effects.

Acidity

The acidity level in a coffee drink depends on the type of coffee beans. Robusta coffee beans are more acidic than arabica coffee beans. 

Decaf coffee has more acidity than regular coffee. The decaffeinated coffee has a flat pH of about 5.0 to 5.1, and regular coffee has an average pH of 5.0.

Which is Better?

Choosing between decaf and regular coffee depends on an individual’s tolerance level. If you love a strong aroma and bitter taste, consider sipping regular coffee. 

But those susceptible to anxiety and nervousness due to caffeine should consider drinking decaf coffee. It is the best alternative for quitting caffeine addiction.

Decaf vs. Instant Coffee

Focus the difference between decaf and regular coffee

The main difference between decaf and instant coffee is based on the ease of preparation. Instant coffee is easier, cheaper, and faster to make than decaf coffee. 

Instant coffee is also made from the dried coffee extract and has high caffeine content. Decaf coffee is made from coffee beans that have zero caffeine content due to the decaffeination process. 

Both decaf and instant coffee have antioxidant properties and nutritional value to the user. If you are looking to limit caffeine intake, consider decaf coffee over instant coffee.

However, Instant coffee can also be decaffeinated. NESCAFÉ provide instant coffee without caffeine. They use coffee beans that are decaffeinated using only water, which naturally preserves the same flavour and rich aroma that you love from this brand.

Buying Decaf Coffee Beans

Nowadays, the consumption of coffee drinks with lower caffeine content is becoming a trend. With that said, many specialty roasters have started to include decaf options to their line of products. However, which brands or companies offer the best decaffeinated coffee beans?

First thing first. Look for brands that disclose information in their labeling or websites. There are some coffee roasters that advertise how their decaf coffee is made.

One of the most important things to look out for is the method of decaffeinating the coffee beans. Traditionally, most processes use acids and chemical solvents, like Methylene Chloride or Ethyl Acetate. However, these these methods are unsafe, they can be toxic, and believed to post health risk.

There’s a safer, effective, and more organic method that a lot of roasters use nowadays. As mentioned, the Swiss Water Method is a taste-driven, 100% chemical-free decaffeination process.

Volcanica Coffee use this process to produce their best tasting decaf coffee that is 99.9% caffeine free. While 99.9% decaffeination seems impossible, if it’s true, then they’re doing a great job at decaffeinating those coffee beans. You can have their delicious, sweet Volcanica House Blend Decaf Coffee.

Blue Bottle also boasts its use of this process in creating their Night Light Decaf. Decaf coffees from Lifeboost Coffee are also organically and naturally decaffeinated beverage. They are clear that they use 100% chemical-free Swiss Water Process in their Decaf Coffee Series.

If you’re able to like these coffees, then you might also able to enjoy real Kona decaf coffee. Koa Coffee also have their own Swiss Water Decaffeinated Kona Coffee

Conclusion

There you have it! Coffee is one of the world’s most popular drinks that help jump-start our day. Most people prefer a regular coffee first thing in the morning because of its high caffeine content.

However, not everyone comes with the same tolerance for caffeine. Others are fine with it but some may feel too much. Luckily decaffeinated beverages exist for consumers who want to enjoy drinking coffee while to limiting their caffeine intake for health reasons.

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