How Much Caffeine Is in Decaf Coffee? (Is It 100% Decaf?) (2023)

Although coffee tastes great and can help you start your day, caffeine has several unhealthy side effects.

It increases stress levels and blood pressure, causes anxiety and insomnia, and can lead to dependency. Decaf coffee might seem like a good alternative, but is it truly caffeine free?

Decaf coffee has roughly 2 to 15 mg of caffeine per cup (237 ml). Therefore, it isn’t 100% decaf. However, the quantity of caffeine in decaf is relatively low compared to regular coffee, which contains about 95 mg.

Decaf might not be as healthy as you believe, and other good coffee alternatives exist.

Read on to learn why decaf coffee isn’t entirely caffeine-free and what you can drink instead.

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Is decaf coffee truly caffeine-free?

Decaf coffee is not truly caffeine free. A cup (237 ml) of decaf has an average of two to five milligrams of caffeine. (Source)

That’s a smaller quantity of caffeine than the 80 to 100 milligrams in a regular coffee.

If you drink decaf coffee once a day, the small amount of caffeine might not even affect you.

But while five milligrams of caffeine doesn’t seem like much, it can add up if you have multiple servings.

Decaf coffee isn’t the best option if a caffeine-sensitive person is trying to stay away from caffeine.

Expecting decaf coffee not to have some caffeine is simply expecting a lot from coffee beans.

(Video) Coffee Myths - DECAF COFFEE IS 100% CAFFEINE FREE?

How Much Caffeine Is in Decaf Coffee? (Is It 100% Decaf?) (1)

Like regular coffee drinks, decaf coffee comes from a natural coffee bean, and every coffee bean has at least six milligrams of caffeine.

We make decaf coffee by removing the caffeine from the coffee beans. But unfortunately, this process is not perfect; no decaffeination process can completely remove all the caffeine from the coffee beans.

Decaffeination methods

Many decaffeination processes are used to produce the best decaf coffees. Here are the four major methods of decaffeination:

  • Swiss water method
  • Carbon dioxide method
  • Indirect solvent method
  • Direct solvent method

Let’s explore each method and its level of effectiveness.

The Swiss water method

Over the last few years, the Swiss water method has become the most commonly used and effective decaffeination process.

It’s the best way to remove caffeine from beans while retaining flavor compounds.

Swiss water decaffeination is an organic process that applies the law and dynamics of osmosis.

The process starts by extracting caffeine from beans by soaking them in hot water.

After this, the beans go through an activated charcoal filter that absorbs the caffeine without taking away all the flavor compounds.

Swiss water decaffeination is considered the best method, but it’s still not 100 percent effective.

It removes about 99.9% of the caffeine, so the decaf coffee beans are left with 0.1%.

The carbon dioxide method

The carbon dioxide method is the newest and most expensive decaffeination process.

It involves extracting caffeine from beans with carbon dioxide.

When beans come in contact with carbon dioxide for a long time, the carbon dioxide draws the caffeine molecules and binds to them like a magnet, leaving the beans caffeine free.

(Video) Breaking Up with Caffeine + Decaf Coffee Options

So to have a decaffeinated coffee through the CO2 process, you must soak the coffee bean in a carbon dioxide solution for some time.

Although the carbon dioxide method doesn’t bind to all the caffeine, many still use it because it produces a cup of coffee with fewer byproducts.

It’s hard to determine the exact amount of caffeine removed through the CO2 method.

It depends on how long the beans stay in contact with the carbon dioxide solution.

The indirect solvent method

The indirect solvent method uses chemicals to remove caffeine from beans. It’s not as expensive as the carbon dioxide or Swiss water decaffeination processes.

However, it usually creates more byproducts.

To remove caffeine from beans using this process, you must soak them in hot water, then rinse them with solvent chemicals like ethyl acetate or methylene chloride.

Leave them to dry for some time, then roast them.

How Much Caffeine Is in Decaf Coffee? (Is It 100% Decaf?) (2)

The indirect solvent process takes away a lot of caffeine, leaving about 3% of the caffeine in the coffee bean.

The direct solvent method

Direct solvent decaf is similar to the indirect solvent process. The primary difference is that you soak the beans in the chemical solvent instead of just rinsing them.

Therefore, the beans have more direct contact with the chemical solvents.

Soaking the beans in a solvent will extract caffeine and other compounds. Then, you drain the beans to remove excess solvent.

Why the decaf process fails to produce 100% decaf coffee

Why don’t we leave the beans in carbon dioxide, hot water, or activated coals until all the caffeine evaporates?

The truth is decaf producers take the beans through different rounds of caffeine extraction.

(Video) Best Coffee Substitutes – Decaf Coffee & Other Coffee Alternatives – Dr.Berg

But still, some stubborn milligrams of caffeine refuse to leave. It’s not an exact science, which prevents a 100% success rate.

The law of diminishing returns makes it impossible to extract all the caffeine. Basically, the first few rounds of caffeine extraction will yield the most results.

But as more rounds are performed, less and less caffeine is removed. Ultimately, some remaining caffeine molecules are inevitable.

As such, decaf coffee doesn’t have to be 100% decaf. According to the FDA, decaf coffee must be 97% caffeine-free to use the decaf label.

Non-caffeinated alternatives to decaf coffee

You must be disappointed knowing that decaf coffee still contains some milligrams of caffeine.

However, if you want a hot morning beverage, here are some tasty options that don’t have caffeine:

  • Herbal tea. Many herbal teas don’t contain caffeine. These include peppermint, ginger, hibiscus, and chamomile. However, you should still watch for blends containing green or black tea since these are caffeinated.
  • Chicory root. Chicory root drink is a good coffee alternative; you might even mistake its appearance for coffee. However, chicory drink comes from chicory plants. It has a nice flavor as well as health benefits.
  • Golden milk tea. Golden milk tea has of Indian origin; it’s a medicinal drink in India used to treat colds and congestion. Golden milk tea has zero caffeine; its primary ingredients include milk, turmeric, black pepper, and ground ginger. To enhance its taste, you can add other flavors, such as cinnamon or cloves.

FAQs about caffeine in decaf coffee

People are generally surprised to learn that decaf has caffeine. As such, they usually have follow-up questions about decaffeinated coffee.

Let’s look at some of the most commonly asked questions regarding this beverage.

Does decaf coffee give you an energy boost?

Decaf coffee doesn’t contain enough caffeine to boost your energy like a regular cup of coffee would.

However, if you drink a large amount of decaf, you might feel some of the effects of caffeine.

You’re less likely to feel these effects with coffees decaffeinated through the Swiss water method.

Is decaf coffee okay for pregnant women?

Decaf coffee is safe during pregnancy in moderate amounts. However, too much of it increases the risk of miscarriage and other health issues. It’s best to seek your doctor’s advice on how much decaf coffee is healthy for you to consume.

A 200 mg caffeine limit is generally recommended for pregnant women. To be on the safe side, you can limit yourself to two 1.5 cups (about 355 ml) of decaf drinks a day.

If you observe any side effects while taking decaf, report them to your doctor immediately.

(Video) How Decaf Coffee is Made: Methods, pros and cons

Does decaf coffee have side effects?

Decaf coffee has side effects. Although decaf won’t give you the same energy boost, the small amount of caffeine and the acidic nature of decaf can have negative effects. The most common side effect is insomnia, and others include headaches, anxiety, and an upset stomach.(Source)

You will only experience side effects when you take decaf coffee frequently and in large quantities.

If you experience any of these side effects, you should stop consuming decaf coffee and report it to your doctor.

How Much Caffeine Is in Decaf Coffee? (Is It 100% Decaf?) (3)

Is decaf coffee unhealthy?

Decaf is not unhealthy. Studies have shown that decaf coffee offers several health benefits, like lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes and preventing stroke and some types of cancer. It also contains antioxidants that can protect your cells. (Source)

Decaf can be healthier than regular coffee because it contains the health benefits of coffee beans without as much caffeine.

Caffeine is generally associated with the negative effects of coffee.

However, if you drink decaf coffee in large quantities, you will be consuming more caffeine, which can affect your health negatively.

Therefore, you have to be cautious of your intake of decaf, even though it has less caffeine than regular coffee.

How Much Caffeine Is in Decaf Coffee? (Is It 100% Decaf?) (4)

You can read this in-depth article if you want to check out the pros and cons of drinking coffee.


Decaf is not truly caffeine free. Most decaf coffees contain about three percent caffeine, a small quantity compared to regular coffees.

Even though there’s only a small amount of caffeine in decaf drinks, it can still cause negative health effects. This risk increases when consuming decaf in large quantities.

If you want a caffeine-free drink, consider alternatives like herbal tea, chicory root, and golden milk.

These drinks are caffeine free and healthy. Some of them even taste similar to coffee.

Learn more about coffee

  • Does Coffee Cause Acid Reflux? (Everything You Need to Know)
  • How Many Shots of Espresso Is Too Much to Drink in a Day?
  • What Is Blonde Espresso: Everything You Need to Know


How Much Caffeine Is in Decaf Coffee? (Is It 100% Decaf?)? ›

Decaf coffee is a popular alternative for those looking to cut their caffeine intake. However, it is not completely caffeine-free. While the decaffeination process removes at least 97% of caffeine, virtually all decaf coffees still contain around 7 mg per 8-ounce (236-ml) cup.

Is decaf 100 percent decaf? ›

Although decaf coffee is not 100% caffeine-free, it contains significantly less caffeine than regular coffee. According to the FDA , an 8 oz cup of regular coffee typically contains 80–100 mg of caffeine. Green and black teas also contain more caffeine than decaf coffee.

Does decaf coffee have enough caffeine? ›

Although there is some caffeine in decaf coffee, the small amount of caffeine isn't really enough to affect most people, Sampat said. But that also depends on a few factors: Those include caffeine sensitivity (which is largely genetic) and caffeine tolerance (which develops with regular intake).

Is there such thing as 100 decaf coffee? ›

NESCAFÉ Rich Decaf Instant Coffee (100 g) makes 100% pure decaffeinated coffee with all the full-bodied taste of NESCAFÉ Rich.

How much caffeine is in 99.9 decaf coffee? ›

To be labeled decaf, the coffee must be 99.9% caffeine free. For example, a regular 8 oz coffee has about 100 mg of caffeine or more, while a decaf of the same size has only about 5 mg of caffeine or less, so the regular has more than 20 times more caffeine!

Which decaf coffee has the least caffeine? ›

Lowest Caffeine Level Decaf Process: The Swiss Water Decaf Process is certified 99.9% caffeine free and uses only water (no chemicals) to decaffeinate the beans.

Is decaffeinated coffee good for high blood pressure? ›

If you struggle with controlling your blood pressure, you might be advised to try decaf coffee. That way, you can still get your routine morning coffee without the negative side effects. Certain prescription medications.

How many cups of decaf coffee is OK per day? ›

How Much Decaf Coffee You Should Drink. Up to 400mg of caffeine per day is safe for most adults. That's roughly four cups of caffeinated coffee or approximately 57 cups of decaf.

Does decaf have enough caffeine to keep you awake? ›

No, it won't keep you awake at night like its caffeinated counterpart – win-win! So, how much caffeine does decaf coffee contain? It still contains some caffeine (around 0.2%) but not enough to have an effect on your sleep-wake cycle, so if it's an espresso hit with no consequences, decaf is your best bet!

Which decaf coffee is the healthiest? ›

Swiss Water Decaf. A breed of decaf that's free of chemicals and retains most of the coffee's original flavor. A decaf that stands the test of health without losing the battle for taste. This is what makes the Swiss Water Decaf the world's healthiest decaffeinated coffee.

What's the point of decaf coffee? ›

It Has Less Caffeine

One of the biggest reasons people choose to drink a decaf beverage is to avoid the effects of caffeine. While caffeine can provide a subtle energy and mood increase, there are some adverse side effects. People who are sensitive to caffeine can drink decaf coffee without having to worry.

Is decaf the same as caffeine-free? ›

To begin with, it's important to understand that decaf and caffeine-free are not the same thing. Caffeine-free means that there was never any caffeine in the product, to begin with, while decaf means that caffeine was removed from the product, leaving behind small amounts of residual caffeine.

What is the difference between Swiss water decaf and regular decaf coffee? ›

How does it differ from other decaf methods? The Swiss Water method uses no chemicals whatsoever, whereas many other decaffeination methods employ the use chemical solvents like methylene chloride (“MC” decaf) and ethyl acetate. It sometimes imparts fruity flavors to the coffee.

Does Swiss water decaf have caffeine? ›

How much caffeine is in Swiss Water Decaf? Swiss Water coffee is 99.9% caffeine-free. That can translate to a few milligrams of caffeine per cup, almost zero when compared to the 100 mg or more that is found per 8 oz cup of caffeinated coffee.

Is decaf coffee healthy? ›

Yes, decaf coffee can have many of the same health benefits as regular coffee. Coffee has many different substances in it — not just caffeine — that can positively affect health. These various substances can have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.

Is decaf OK for anxiety? ›

Decaf coffee can help with:

Many people experience insomnia, restlessness, heart palpitations, high blood pressure, and anxiety from the caffeine in coffee. If you experience anxiety and drink regular coffee, perhaps think about switching to decaf coffee if you find your anxiety worsening with coffee.

Who drinks the most decaf coffee? ›

Decaf Most Popular Among Millennials

According to the 2017 National Coffee Association (NCA) report, decaf consumption in the US is led by 18-24-year-olds (19%). And while 25-39-year-olds fell into third place place this year, in 2016 they led the trend at 20%.

What is the best coffee with less caffeine? ›

What coffee has the lowest amount of caffeine? The two coffee types, Laurina and Aramosa, are probably the best options if you want to limit caffeine intake. These varietals contain less caffeine while still tasting like specialty coffee.

Is decaf coffee OK for your heart? ›

All coffee types were associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease; drinking two to three cups of coffee per day — whether decaffeinated, instant and/or ground — had the lowest risk.

Will quitting decaf coffee lower blood pressure? ›

Lower Blood Pressure: Quitting caffeine can lower your blood pressure and take pressure off of your heart. Improved Sleep: Because it has a relatively long half-life, caffeine can negatively impact sleep long after you've consumed it.

What is the best coffee to drink with high blood pressure? ›

Opt for Decaf Coffee

Although the effects of caffeine on blood pressure are still under debate, even in the scientific world, caffeinated coffee may be detrimental to your hypertension. Instead of drinking a morning cup of joe (or several cups throughout the day), your heart may be happier with decaffeinated coffee.

Is it OK to drink decaf coffee everyday? ›

Is decaf coffee bad for you? Like all coffee, decaffeinated coffee is safe for consumption and can be part of a healthy diet. If you are wondering whether the decaffeination process itself is safe, the answer is yes.

How often should you drink decaf coffee? ›

Drinking 5 to 10 cups of decaf coffee could accumulate the amount of caffeine found in 1 to 2 cups of regular, caffeinated coffee (17). But this does not mean you can drink 5 to 10 cups of decaf coffee every day. Stick to 2 to 3 cups to be on the safe side.

What are the effects of too much decaf coffee? ›

At higher doses, it can cause headache, confusion, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and fatigue, and has been found to cause liver and lung cancer in animals. In 1999, however, the FDA concluded that the trace amounts you get in decaf coffee are too minuscule to affect your health.

Why do I feel sleepy after drinking decaf coffee? ›

In general, it takes your body about 4 to 6 hours to metabolize half of what you've consumed, meaning that a cup of coffee, even decaf, at dinnertime can cause sleep issues hours after you've taken your last sip.

Why does decaf coffee make me sleepy immediately? ›

Caffeine can block the effects of adenosine, which is what makes you feel alert after your morning cup of joe. However, once the caffeine wears off, your body may experience a buildup of adenosine that hits you all at once, which is why coffee can make you feel tired.

Do you pee less with decaf coffee? ›

However, it must be stressed that decaffeinated coffee has no diuretic effects and is an excellent way to hydrate during the day. So, Decaf Coffee is not a diuretic. It is about equal to water in how much it makes a person urinate.

Is decaf coffee anti inflammatory? ›

In addition, evidence has indicated that both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee have a similar anti-inflammatory effect (Dong et al., 2019), and not only caffeine, but also some phenols including pyrocatechol, chlorogenic acid, and so on, can prevent the inflammatory responses (Hwang et al., 2016; Stefanello et al., ...

Is decaffeinated coffee a diuretic? ›

The short answer is no – decaf coffee is not a diuretic. Because it typically has very little caffeine, the effects from drinking caffeinated coffee are far less pronounced.

How much caffeine is in Coke? ›

Coke's caffeine content is 34mg for a 12-oz can, and Diet Coke caffeine content is 46mg. That's three to four times less than coffee! The same-sized coffee, in this case a 12-oz cup, has 140mg or more. Do you have caffeine-free soda?

What is the safest decaf method? ›

Many methods have become available, but the most recognised method is the Swiss Water Process (SWP) – an environmentally friendly, chemical-free water process. Read on to find out more about the Swiss Water Process and whether it is the best way to decaffeinate coffee.

Which decaf coffee has the most caffeine? ›

Caffeine Content of Known Coffee Chains
Decaf Coffee10–12 oz (295–354 ml)14–16 oz (414–473 ml)
Starbucks / Pike's Place Roast20 mg25 mg
Dunkin' Donuts7 mg10 mg
McDonald's8 mg11 mg
Average Decaf Brewed Coffee7–8.4 mg9.8–11.2 mg
1 more row
Sep 15, 2018

Is there a naturally decaffeinated coffee? ›

While some people might think the name “Decaf” (short for decaffeinated) means removing all the caffeine from the coffee—this is a misconception. Since caffeine naturally occurs in all coffee beans, no natural Whole Bean or Ground coffee can ever be 100% caffeine-free.

Do Italians drink decaf coffee? ›

Some people won't drink coffee after dinner, as it may interfer with their sleep. If they still have the urge for the taste of coffee after dinner they can order a decaf, which is also known as “hag”, from the most famous decaf brand in Italy.

Does decaf still give you energy? ›

In the decaffeination process, about 15% of the antioxidants are lost. Energy boost: whereas regular coffee gives you a strong energy boost, decaf coffee doesn't. This is because decaf coffee contains a lot less caffeine than regular coffee.

Can I drink all the decaf coffee I want? ›

Can I drink as much decaf coffee as I want? No, you should still moderate your intake of decaf coffee. While it is lower in caffeine than regular coffee, it still contains some caffeine. Too much caffeine can be harmful to your health.

Does green tea have more caffeine than decaf coffee? ›

Coffee generally has more caffeine than green tea.

Based on the FDA's estimate, an 8 oz cup of coffee typically contains 80 to 100 mg of caffeine. In contrast, an 8 oz cup of green tea typically has 30 to 50 mg of caffeine.

How do you remove caffeine from coffee? ›

The most-common methods of decaffeination involve chemical solvents, usually ethyl acetate or methylene chloride. In the direct method, the coffee beans are steamed and then rinsed repeatedly with the chemical solvent to flush away the caffeine.

Is Folgers naturally decaffeinated? ›

120 Servings. 100% Pure coffee. 99.7% Caffeine free. Naturally decaffeinated using only pure water and natural ingredients.

Is it OK to drink decaf coffee instead of water? ›

In short, a cup of decaf coffee per day is unlikely to have any impact on your hydration and can serve as a substitute for water.

Should you switch to decaf? ›

Switching to decaf coffee can be a great way to reduce your caffeine intake without sacrificing the flavor of your favorite cup of joe. Decaffeinated coffee can offer a range of health benefits, including a lower risk of certain diseases, and taste advantages, like smoothness and lack of caffeine overload.

How long does caffeine stay in your system? ›

The level of caffeine in your blood peaks about one hour later and stays at this level for several hours for most people. Six hours after caffeine is consumed, half of it is still in your body. It can take up to 10 hours to completely clear caffeine from your bloodstream.

What brands of decaf coffee use the Swiss water method? ›

Look for these delicious decafs and other brands at a store near you.
  • Decaf Colombia El Premio De Timana. Decaf Organic Espresso Bel Canto. ...
  • Swiss Water Process Decaf.
  • Decaf Dancing Goats® Blend. Organic Decaf Peru. ...
  • Beanery Blend Swiss Water® Process Decaf. ...
  • Slow Motion - Decaf.
  • Decaf Colombia.
  • Decaf Angel City. ...
  • Decaf Cafe Kaldi.

Why is Swiss water decaf better? ›

We use only water, temperature, and time to gently remove caffeine, while preserving all the coffee's original characteristics. Our seal means you're getting the very best cup of decaf, free of chemicals or residual processing flavors.

Does decaf coffee raise blood pressure? ›

This means that although decaffeinated coffee may be a slightly better alternative when attempting to reduce blood pressure, it can still raise it in the body like regular coffee.

Can I drink all the decaf I want? ›

Can I drink as much decaf coffee as I want? No, you should still moderate your intake of decaf coffee. While it is lower in caffeine than regular coffee, it still contains some caffeine. Too much caffeine can be harmful to your health.

How much decaf is safe? ›

How Much Decaf Coffee You Should Drink. Up to 400mg of caffeine per day is safe for most adults. That's roughly four cups of caffeinated coffee or approximately 57 cups of decaf.

Is decaf coffee bad for liver or kidneys? ›

Is Decaffeinated Coffee Good for Your Liver? There is no clear evidence that suggests drinking decaffeinated coffee is specifically good for the liver. However, drinking moderate amounts of coffee in general has been associated with a lower risk of liver disease, including liver cancer and cirrhosis.

Is it healthier to drink decaf? ›

Decaf coffee contains many of the same substances found in regular coffee. But it has a much lower amount of caffeine. It can have many of the same health benefits as regular coffee, too, such as a reduced risk of diabetes, colon cancer, stroke, and dementia.

Is decaf coffee good for your heart? ›

Health Benefits of Decaf Coffee. Decaf coffee may protect against liver disease, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes without the side effects of caffeine.

Why does decaf coffee make me sleepy? ›

In general, it takes your body about 4 to 6 hours to metabolize half of what you've consumed, meaning that a cup of coffee, even decaf, at dinnertime can cause sleep issues hours after you've taken your last sip.

Why do people switch to decaf? ›

It Has Less Caffeine

One of the biggest reasons people choose to drink a decaf beverage is to avoid the effects of caffeine. While caffeine can provide a subtle energy and mood increase, there are some adverse side effects. People who are sensitive to caffeine can drink decaf coffee without having to worry.

What happens to your body when you switch to decaf? ›

One of the most obvious benefits of switching to decaffeinated coffee is consuming less caffeine. While this may mean sacrificing a slight energy boost, it may also protect those with sensitive reactions or those who want to avoid the side effects such as anxiety, irritability, rapid heartbeat, and headaches.

How many cups of decaf is too much? ›

It is suggested that people shouldn't drink any more than three cups of coffee per day — which roughly equates to around 300 milligrams of caffeine per day. To compare, you'd have to drink five to 10 cups of decaf coffee to consume the same amount of caffeine as is contained in two cups of regular coffee.

What coffee has no caffeine? ›

1. Chicory coffee. Like coffee beans, chicory root can be roasted, ground and brewed into a delicious hot beverage. It tastes very similar to coffee but is caffeine-free.


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