It’s well-known that coffee contains caffeine, and it’s the presence of it that gives you energy through the day. However, some people prefer coffee without caffeine.
There are several reasons, including health-related issues. However, there are other reasons. For example, some coffee lovers would like to enjoy a cup of coffee at dinner time without the effects of the caffeine interrupting their sleep. Because of reasons such as these, decaffeinated coffee can be a good option.
Decaf coffee hasn’t always been well-regarded, one of the main reasons being that it was hard to find an option that tasted as good as the caffeinated alternative.
Thankfully, all that has changed. In recent years, scientific and technological progress means that it is easy to find high-quality decaffeinated coffee.
Like caffeinated coffee, factors including the beans’ origins and roasting skills, and the caffeine removal process, can affect the quality of decaf coffee.
In this guide, we’ve put together the best decaf coffee currently on the market, together with an explanation of what decaf coffee is, what is good about it, and how it works. Let’s begin.
What Is Decaf Coffee?
Decaffeinated coffee begins life as a standard, caffeinated coffee, which then has the majority of the beans’ caffeine content removed. Decaf coffee is never wholly caffeine-free. However, it should contain only around 3% of the caffeine you’d find in caffeinated coffee.
Aside from removing most caffeine, we brew decaf coffee using beans in an identical way to standard coffee.
There is a distinction between decaf coffee and coffee alternatives, including licorice tea, yerba mate, carob, and chicory. Drinks such as those don’t contain coffee at all. On the other hand, decaf coffee is still coffee but without most of the caffeine content.
For other options, read our guide to the best coffee beans here.
How Does Coffee Become Decaffeinated?
4 Ways To Remove Caffeine From Coffee
It is possible to decaffeinate coffee in four main ways :
- Indirect-solvent process
- Direct solvent process
- Carbon dioxide process
- Swiss water process
The decaffeination takes place before the beans are ground and roasted. The nutritional content of the coffee will be virtually the same as standard coffee, but without the same amount of caffeine.
The indirect and direct-solvent processes remove the caffeine from the beans with chemicals. Methylene chloride and ethyl acetate are the two most common agents used in the process. The carbon dioxide process is almost the same as the first two. However, it uses carbon dioxide in the caffeine removal rather than chemicals.
Swiss Water Process – Remove 99.9% Of Caffeine Without Chemicals
The Swiss water process is worthy of more investigation, as you will often find it mentioned when searching for the best-quality decaf coffee. This process is the one most widely used for organic decaf coffee because of its chemical-free nature.
First, the process involves soaking the green coffee beans in hot water. Then, the beans are removed, which leaves the Green Coffee Extract (GCE). This is entered into a carbon filter that takes out the caffeine. Following this, a new batch of green beans is soaked in the GCE. However, because the GCE is wholly saturated with caffeine-free soluble coffee components, the only caffeine that will find its way into the GCE is from those beans, leaving the oils and coffee flavors undisturbed.
The Swiss water process ensures the retention of most of the natural qualities of the coffee beans.
However, the process is not straightforward. Here’s a link to a video that goes into greater depth on the Swiss water process.
How Much Caffeine Is In Decaffeinated Coffee?
Because it’s called decaffeinated coffee, some people assume those types of coffee won’t have any traces of caffeine. However, none of the methods outlined in the previous section can remove all the caffeine.
In the USA, the coffee must be 97% caffeine-free before the FDA allows it to be known as decaffeinated. Meanwhile, in the EU, that figure rises to 99.7%.
If you’re particularly sensitive to caffeine and its effects, it’s advisable to choose a decaf coffee that has been through the Swiss water method. That’s because it is the healthiest and most effective process, taking away 99.9% of the caffeine.
How Does Decaf Coffee Taste?
Is there a noticeable difference between the taste of regular coffee and decaf coffee? Certainly, if you’re a seasoned coffee drinker.
The process of decaffeination does affect the overall aroma and flavor of the coffee. Usually, this will result in the coffee tasting and smelling milder than standard coffee.
However, it’s all down to the individual. Coffee enthusiasts who prefer their coffee to have lower acidity will probably make the switch to decaf more quickly than people who like more robust-tasting coffee.
The 11 Best Decaf Coffee Brands of 2023
As we’ve established, the process of decaffeination affects the flavor and smell of the coffee to some degree. However, if you have high-quality beans, the right roaster, and – preferably – the Swiss water processed, there will likely be a decaf coffee that tastes almost identical to the standard cup of caffeinated coffee you’re used to.
Here is our pick of the best decaf coffee brands.
1. Lifeboost Decaf Coffee
Lifeboost coffee originates from the Nicaraguan mountains. The single-origin arabica coffee is certified organic and mountain shade grown, while there are neither pesticides nor chemical fertilizers used in the growing process. They use the swiss water decaffeination process, meaning it is chemical-free. This assures the consumer of removing 99.9% of the caffeine in as healthy a way as you can get. Nor does the process take away much of the flavor or aroma of the original coffee, making it an excellent option.
The coffee itself is medium-roast with flavors that are balanced and smooth, with low acidity. Descriptions of the flavor include “chocolatey,” “nutty,” and “caramel.” Indeed, the flavor is so good with this coffee that it is easy to forget it’s a decaf option.
The beans are fair trade certified, hand-picked, grown in the shade, and washed with spring water. They are also grown at high altitudes, which is the environment where most top-quality coffee beans are grown. The higher price does reflect the high-quality of the beans, but that extra money is worth it for the consistency and quality it offers. You can save 50% to try this LifeBoost Decaf Coffee.
2. No Fun Jo Decaf Whole Beans Coffee
The certifications given to this coffee brand tell you how serious Jo Coffee takes its products. This coffee comprises 100% organic Arabica coffee beans and is USDA organic certified, Fair Trade, and Kosher certified. The company is also in the Specialty Coffee Association, which offers ample peace of mind to the buyer than a company you can trust.
Again, removal of the caffeine occurs using the Swiss water decaf process to preserve the beans’ flavor. The roast used is medium-dark, which is excellent for various brewing methods, including drip, pour-over, or espresso coffees.
The milk chocolate, blueberry, and complex flavors will also be apparent with this coffee. The company says that there are no added flavorings in the coffee, and it doesn’t need any because it only uses the top 2% of specialty organic Arabic raw coffee.
If you would like to reduce your caffeine intake but retain the full-bodied, rich flavor of standard coffee, this is an excellent product to try.
Jo Coffee has both whole beans and ground options. Also, for those who have a single-serve coffee machine, there are K-cups of No Fun Jo Decaf.
3. Don Pablo Colombian Decaf
This smooth Colombian Supremo is sweet, mild, and rich. It is medium-bodied with citrus notes, pleasant acidity, and a walnut and chocolate finish. It is so good that it tastes like standard coffee, albeit caffeine-free.
There is a hint of roastiness in the taste of this medium-dark roast coffee, thanks to the caramelization of the beans’ natural sugars. Some users have reported that it has a robust flavor that tastes like a dark roast.
The coffee also has low acidity, which is perfect for coffee drinkers prone to heartburn who would like a decaf coffee. Common to the best decaf coffee brands, Cafe Don Pablo takes advantage of the Swiss water process. The brand also roasts its beans in small doses immediately before packaging to retain as much freshness as possible.
One drawback is that these beans are not certified fair trade. However, the company has a program known as “Sharing Certified,” which assures consumers that it works directly with Colombian farmers.
You can buy ground coffee, whole beans, or K-cups of Cafe Don Pablo Colombian coffee.
4. Kicking Horse Decaf Coffee
If you are a fan of premium dark roast, Kicking Horse decaf beans are a fantastic option. Like the brand’s other coffees, this is dark, deep, and tastes great with low acidity.
The decaf blend consists of beans from Central and South America. The coffee is dark roasted, which lends it a nutty, deep, and earthy flavor. You’ll also detect hints of hazelnuts, chocolate, and brown sugar. Another advantage of this coffee is that you can use it with any coffee maker, including a drip machine, French press, or pour over. It is even good for decaf cold brew.
Once again, the Kicking horse coffee beans are Swiss water processed, so there is almost no caffeine, but you will benefit from the perfectly roasted flavor. It tastes so good that you could be mistaken for thinking it is a rich, caffeinated coffee.
Also, their good-tasting decaf coffee is certified organic, kosher and fair trade certified.
Kicking horse coffee is perfectly suited for people who like dark roast flavors but would rather avoid caffeine.
5. Volcanica Coffee Costa Rica Decaf
This family-run brand takes pride in offering premium gourmet coffee.
The Volcanica Coffee Company, as its name suggests, takes advantage of the mineral-rich, high-altitude soils of volcanic mountains to make coffee that tastes beautiful. Indeed, these elements are perfect for producing some of the world’s most high-quality coffee beans.
Volcanica Costa Rica Decaf is a single-origin coffee that comes from the mountain ranges of Tarrazu in San Jose in Costa Rica. The cool temperatures found in the Tarrazu mountains help produce vibrant and full-bodied coffee, well-balanced, smooth and bright. It also boasts a delicate chocolate flavor.
As with most other coffee brands featured on this list, the Swiss water process is at the fore in decaffeination, leading to a chemical-free flavorsome result.
This Costa Rica Decaf is just one of the best decaf coffees provided by the Volcanic Coffee Company. The brand’s other flavors include the Samatra Mandheling, Guatemala Antigua, Ethiopian, and Brazilian decaf coffee options.
The company has been specializing in providing coffee from volcanic areas since 2004, and that long-standing reputation ensures it is a company you can trust to deliver excellent coffee.
6. Koa Coffee – Decaf 100% Kona Coffee
Koa Coffee is a premium coffee maker that grows its coffee beans in the foothills of Hawaii’s Mount Loa volcano. This lends the product the beautiful “Aloha taste” that makes Kona beans so well-known.
The best-quality Kona coffee has a distinctive and beautiful taste – hence its prominence in world coffee. The coffee trees grow in the porous and dark volcanic soil, allowing them to benefit from Hawaii’s micro-climate. The result is a clean, smooth coffee with a vibrant fruit flavor.
This decaf blend keeps the unique characteristics of regular coffee made with Kona beans with its medium roast. Meanwhile, Swiss water processing lets the beans’ flavor come to the fore.
These beans are pretty costly. However, that’s because Kona coffee can only use that name if the beans are grown in Hawaii’s Kona Belt region. The coffee in this packet is 100% Kona coffee, rather than a blend with just 10% of coffee from the Kona Belt, so be assured that it is the real thing.
7. Stone Street Mayan Water Decaf
Stone Street Coffee Company is an artisanal coffee roaster based in Brooklyn, New York. The Swiss water processed coffee beans ensure an exquisite-tasting coffee without the majority of the caffeine.
This Mayan Water Decaf originates from Central America and is a medium roast blend. You can expect a satisfying, medium-bodied coffee with a big flavor.
To ensure even more freshness, the company only makes its coffee products in small amounts at a time, meaning you can expect consistently high-quality coffee in each bag.
Stone Street is Rainforest Alliance certified. This means that foresters, farmers, or businesses work alongside each other to ensure nature and people are in harmony. It’s a brilliant option if you crave a fantastic flavor but would the reassurance of using sustainable beans.
8. Stumptown Trapper Creek Decaf
Stumptown falls into the category of “third wave coffee roasters.” The company specializes in products that only use premium-quality beans and is renowned for taking great care with its products. As a result, attention to detail is paramount in decaffeination using the Swiss water process.
This fresh roasted coffee offers hints of raisin, chocolate, and caramel, with excellent results. The raisins’ natural sweetness combines perfectly with the caramel to produce a buttery and creamy cup. It may well take you by surprise that decaf coffee can be this satisfying.
This product leaves you the option of keeping it at a medium grind size for drip-brewing or grinding it finer for espresso.
Either way, those sweet fruity notes combined with the buttery, creamy elements make for a beautiful drink.
9. Coffee Bros. Decaf Roast Coffee
Two brothers founded this company in 2019, with a dedication to producing beautiful coffees while helping make the coffee industry more sustainable. They are achieving this with a commitment to giving something back to the communities of coffee growers.
This single-origin decaf is from beans grown in Colombia and is smooth and balanced with a robust flavor. It contains 100% Arabica beans grown at altitudes of between 1,500-2,100 meters in the well-known Colombian coffee-producing region of Huila.
The beans are dry-processed, meaning they have a naturally fruity, sweet flavor. Decaffeination takes place in that region via the ethyl acetate process.
The coffee is medium roasted, with a little more lightness than you’d typically expect, to accentuate the flavor with a chocolatey, sweet taste set against a distinctive note of graham cracker. The company roasts small batches of the coffee at a time for consistency of flavor.
This company’s significant advantage is its excellent customer care, as reflected in its impressive satisfaction rating on Amazon. It’s also an attractive option for all brewing methods, from espresso to pour-over.
10. Eight O’Clock Whole Bean Coffee, The Original Decaf
The Eight O’Clock Coffee brand is one of the longest-standing around, having been formed in 1859. This decaf coffee uses 100% Arabica beans, and it’s not particularly expensive, either.
The Arabica beans give the coffee a smoother taste than robusta-based blends. A medium roast is sufficient to offer a deep flavor and satisfying richness. However, it still doesn’t suffer from bitterness.
One aspect that might be offputting to some is that the company uses a decaffeination method that uses a methylene chloride of special purity rather than the more natural Swiss water method.
However, this method is firmly established and enjoys approval from the US Food & Drug Administration for effectiveness and safety.
However, it’s in the price where this coffee comes into its own, while it enjoys reasonably positive reviews on Amazon. Premium decaf coffee can often be quite costly. However, this is an excellent option for those desiring decent decaffeinated coffee at a lower cost.
11. Peet’s Coffee Decaf Major Dickason’s Blend
This is a popular choice among decaf coffee lovers. The company offers plenty of blends, and its products are readily available in many grocery stores.
The Bay Area brand also produces several decaf options, with Major Dickason’s Blend one of the more prominent. There’s also a caffeinated alternative, but both provide a slightly spicy, smoky flavor in a very dark roast.
Another thing that sets Peet’s apart is its commitment to ensuring the beans are as fresh as they can be, thanks to its practice of making coffee in small batches and marking the coffee’s roast date on the label.
The method of decaffeination Peet’s favors involves the chemical methylene chloride. First, it steams the coffee beans, and then the chemical – which has the FDA’s approval – removes the caffeine. Judging by the thousands of satisfied customers, the coffee is a winner with many coffee lovers.
You can purchase this coffee ground as whole beans or in K-cups, giving plenty of options.
What’s The Best Decaffeinated Instant Coffee?
Without exception, freshly roasted coffee is a better option than instant coffee. However, not everyone has the option of brewing their own freshly ground coffee. Even if you do have that option, sometimes, you want coffee quickly without any hassle. That’s where instant decaf coffee comes in.
We think the best option is Waka Coffee. That’s because their instant decaf coffee uses premium-quality, 100% Colombian Arabica beans. The coffee has a smooth flavor and is well-balanced. With medium-roasted beans, there are citrus hints that mark the beans out as Colombian. Waka Coffee freeze-dries the beans to produce its instant coffee, keeping the original beans’ flavor and smell largely intact.
Waka Coffee also uses spring water and ethyl acetate in its decaffeination process. Besides Waka, we also tasted dozens of decaf instant coffee from the top brands all over the world, we picked the best tasting decaf instant coffees for you in another article, check it out if you are looking for a quick cup of coffee.
What Are The Best Decaf Coffee Pods?
If you brew your daily coffee using a single-serve coffee maker, there are still plenty of decent options for making decaf coffee at the push of a button.
The No Fun Jo and Cafe Don Pablo coffees we’ve reviewed in this guide are two that have K-cup versions. The Donut Shop Medium-Roast Decaf K-Cup, Peet’s Coffee House Blend Decaf K-Cups, and Dunkin’ Donuts Original Decaf Keurig K-Cups are worth considering too.
Decaf Coffee: What Else Do I Need To Know?
A Brief History Of Decaf Coffee
Decaf coffee is not a recent phenomenon. Indeed, the first process for decaffeinating coffee was pioneered by Ludwig Roselius as long ago as 1906. His method was to steam the beans using acids then take out the caffeine with benzene. You won’t be shocked to discover that this didn’t allow for a high-quality flavor. Also, benzene is a carcinogen, so its use in the decaffeination process was eventually stopped.
Over time, people used different solvents. However, none of them did much to improve the bad reputation of decaffeinated coffee. It is only in relatively recent times that the decaffeination processes have become more high-tech, sophisticated, natural, and – crucially – safe. The Swiss water processing, in particular, has helped improve the reputation of decaf coffee considerably.
Why Is Decaf Coffee Needed?
There are two primary reasons why people drink coffee. The first is the taste, and the second is the extra energy a caffeinated coffee brings them. So, why would you drink coffee that almost eliminates the second reason? And who ought to drink decaf coffee?
There’s often a health issue at the crux of a person’s decision to change to decaf coffee. For example, if you’re breastfeeding or pregnant, too much caffeine is not recommended.
Meanwhile, other people feel the effects of caffeine more acutely than others. Too much caffeine can induce problems including sweating, shaking, headaches, heartburn, or acid reflux.
Another problem can be the time of the consumption of the coffee. For example, if you enjoy a cup of coffee after your evening meal, the presence of caffeine can either make it harder to get to sleep or negatively affect the quality of any sleep you do get.
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio
Regardless of the reasons you’ve chosen to drink decaf coffee, we know that coffee has certain health benefits. Therefore, you can still enjoy those benefits even if your drink has had most of the caffeine removed.
Is Decaf Coffee Safe To Drink?
Because decaf coffee isn’t completely free of caffeine, it might not be enough to switch from standard coffee to decaf. If someone gives you professional medical advice to remove caffeine from your diet altogether, you should listen to that advice.
There is no evidence to suggest that drinking decaf is bad for a person’s health, and it may even share some of the health benefits of regular coffee,MedicalNewsToday
If you drink caffeinated coffee regularly and want to give decaf coffee a try, what’s stopping you? It won’t do you any harm, and in some areas, it might even help.
The FDA  has stated that around 400mg of caffeine per day (which equates to approximately four to five cups of coffee) is a moderate adult caffeine intake per day. If you are a serious coffee lover, as we are, but find yourself drinking more than five cups of coffee per day, why not have decaf coffee when you want more than the recommended five cups?
Our Final Thoughts
Decaf coffee deservedly had a poor reputation in the past. However, in recent years, there has been a massive advancement in the process of decaffeination, meaning that reputation is no longer justified. That technological advancement combined with the excellent roasters and coffee brands committed to producing high-quality decaf coffee means it is a far better option than in years gone by.
There are many excellent decaf coffees on the market, including the ones mentioned in this guide. They all provide premium, safely-processed decaffeinated beans that are good for your health and help eliminate caffeine-related jitters before they start!
 FDA recommended caffeine intake per day – https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/spilling-beans-how-much-caffeine-too-much