Caffeine is a naturally occurring stimulant found in the leaves, seeds, and fruit of many plant species including coffee beans, tea leaves, and cacao seeds. If you’re a part of the 83% of US adults that enjoy starting the day with a cup of coffee but want to limit your daily intake of caffeine due to personal preference, sensitivity to caffeine, or pregnancy, decaffeinated coffee may be an excellent choice for you. Here are five common decaf coffee questions answered.
1. What is Caffeine?
Caffeine is a naturally occurring alkaloid found in plants. Alkaloids are organic compounds containing at least one nitrogen atom that have physiological effects on humans and other living creatures. Caffeine acts as a stimulant in humans but can also serve as a plant’s natural defense against bugs and animals. Other well-known alkaloids include drugs like quinine, morphine, and nicotine.
The amount of caffeine in a single serving of coffee depends on the type of bean and preparation. It can vary from about 40 milligrams in a single shot of espresso to more than 200 milligrams in a strong cup of coffee brewed via drip or French press. It’s also important to know that decaf coffee does not mean caffeine-free. Decaf coffee may still contain 2-4 milligrams of caffeine per serving.
2. When was Decaffeinated Coffee Invented?
German chemist Friedlieb F. Runge is often considered the godfather of caffeine because he was the first scientist to isolate caffeine from coffee in 1820. In 1906, Ludwig Roselius, a German coffee salesman, patented the first decaffeination process for commercial use which involved steaming green coffee beans with water and various acids and then using Benzene as a solvent to dissolve the caffeine. Roselius’s method is no longer in use because Benzene, an organic chemical compound, is now recognized as a carcinogen by the American Cancer Society.
3. Is Decaf Coffee Healthier than Regular Coffee?
When enjoyed moderately, both regular and decaffeinated coffee are packed with health benefits. Coffee is full of essential vitamins like B5 and nutrients like potassium, manganese, and magnesium. Coffee also contains antioxidants which have been proven to reduce inflammation and protect the body from free radicals. However, caffeine is a stimulant so if you have trouble sleeping or are looking to decrease your overall caffeine intake, decaffeinated coffee may have additional benefits for you.
4. How is Decaf Coffee Made?
Caffeine is removed from coffee beans while they are green. Green coffee beans are beans that have been harvested, removed from the fruit, and dried but have not yet been roasted. Once green coffee beans are ready for decaffeination there are a few different methods for removing caffeine in use today.
Solvent-based decaffeination utilizes Ethyl acetate (found in ripening fruit and alcohol) or Methylene chloride solvents applied directly or indirectly to green coffee beans to dissolve the naturally occurring caffeine. The US Food and Drug Administration has determined that neither of these solvents poses a health risk, but some coffee connoisseurs find that coffee decaffeinated with a solvent-based method has less flavor and depth than coffee decaffeinated by other means. If you see the words “naturally decaffeinated” when you buy decaf coffee online or at the store, it is likely that coffee was decaffeinated using Ethyl acetate.
5. Where Can I Buy Premium Decaffeinated Coffee?
Our decaffeinated coffees have the rich, full-bodied flavor of regular coffee without caffeine. For premium decaffeinated coffee, hand-selected from the finest growing regions try these best-sellers: