Coffee is the world’s most popular beverage, and the caffeine in coffee is the primary reason people consume 3 to 4 cups a day.
Similarly, caffeine in coffee is also a valid reason for many not to drink coffee at all. Some people are caffeine sensitive and can’t stand the robust energy boost from a daily cup.
So, those who want to enjoy coffee without caffeine usually turn to decaf coffee.
Short answer: Decaf coffee is your regular coffee with caffeine removed from it. However, unlike popular belief, decaf coffee is not a completely caffeine-free beverage. It has about 3 to 7 mg caffeine than a regular cup of coffee.
Let’s take a detailed look at the differences between decaf and regular coffee.
What’s the difference between decaf and regular coffee?
Decaf is regular coffee with caffeine removed from it by steaming the raw or unroasted beans.
Almost 97% of the caffeine is removed from coffee beans during this production process. After the steaming process, raw beans go through the rinsing stage, where more than half of caffeine is removed from them.
Some people also use soaking beans in water for an extended time to remove caffeine components.
Here’s a table with a clear difference between coffee and decaf.
|Features||Regular Coffee (8oz)||Decaf Coffee (8oz)|
|Caffeine||70 to 140mg||3 to 7mg|
|Antioxidants||Yes||Yes (less than coffee)|
|Taste||Strong and bitter||Flat and watery|
|Benefits||Increased alertness, concentration, energy||Reduced risk of various types of disease|
|Side Effects||Anxiety, headaches, palpitations||Increased bad cholesterol, higher acidity levels|
An average cup of the regular caffeine content in coffee is about 70–140 mg, depending on the coffee type, brewing method, and mug size.
On the other hand, decaf, as we see, is not entirely caffeine-free. It does contain about 3 to 7mg caffeine per cup.
One study even shows that 6 oz of decaf coffee contains about 7mg of caffeine. So, if someone wants to ditch caffeine altogether, they should not have decaf either.
Coffee is rich in active biological elements, such as polyphenols and hydrocinnamic acids. These antioxidants boost health and reduce the risk of developing several diseases.
Hydrocinnamic acids are particularly very effective at oxidative stress and offset free radicals.
On the flip side, decaf has a similar or 15% less amount of the same effective antioxidants as regular coffee.
If you want to read more about the antioxidants present in coffee, you can read about them here.
Regular coffee is full of flavors and aromas with a balance of sweetness and acidity. The solid and robust flavors of coffee range from chocolate and fruity to nut and floral.
Decaf, on the other side, is considered flavorless. Some caffeine lovers consider decaf to be less solid and robust or generally just worse than the regular one.
However, if you drink one, you will not find much difference in taste. The slight difference in notes is the result of how it’s is processed.
Let’s compare their health benefits to know which one is better. Coffee is your regular cup of java that provides a boost of energy and concentration.
Coffee is also shown to boost longevity.
The health benefits of decaf on the other hand can be hard to determine. Studies evaluate coffee’s effects on health without differentiating between regular and decaf coffee. Most of the studies don’t even include decaf coffee.
Decaf is an excellent option for those who experience heartburn or acid reflux due to too much-caffeinated coffee consumption.
Consuming 2 to 3 cups of decaf coffee regularly has also been linked directly with a 48% lower risk of developing rectal cancer.
Coffee and decaf both provide some excellent health benefits if consumed regularly.
Decaf has all other biological elements as regular coffee except the caffeine is removed. Still, you can find notable differences between taste, health benefits, and side effects of both. The presence and absence of caffeine affect the acidity level of both coffees.
- Reduces risk of Type 2 Diabetes, Premature Death and Liver failure:
Several studies out there show the role of regular coffee in reducing the risk of various kinds of diseases.
While there’s no solid study to prove, but because decaf contains biological elements like regular coffee, it also helps protect against such severe disease.
Both also play the role of reducing the risk of premature death and Type 2 Diabetes.
- Reduces the Risks of Aging and Neurodegenerative Diseases
Regular and decaf coffee are both linked to preventing diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Like caffeinated coffee, decaf coffee has a protective effect on the brain’s neurons. This helps prevent the onset of neurodegenerative disease.
Coffee, if consumed too much, can cause:
- Abnormal heart rhythm.
Decaffeinated coffee can have harmful effects on the heart by increasing specific cholesterol levels in the blood.
Regular coffee has a high level of acidity than decaf. This is another crucial reason why people shift from coffee to decaf. They face many stomach issues due to daily caffeine consumption.
If you also struggle with stomach issues, gastrointestinal issues, or acid reflux, you need to leave coffee altogether and look for low acid coffee options such as decaf.
Is decaf coffee better than regular coffee?
Coffee is more beneficial compared to decaf coffee. Where decaf coffee has some health benefits and is a good alternative for those who can’t stand caffeine, coffee is still healthier and more delicious than decaf.
The only thing that makes decaf coffee the better option is if you’re sensitive to caffeine but you still crave a cup of coffee. But in every other aspect, I personally believe regular coffee wins over decaf.
That’s not to say decaf is bad for you if you’re not sensitive to caffeine. There are benefits to decaf coffee, and you can read about them in my other article.
Can decaf coffee keep you awake?
The thing that keeps us awake in coffee is the caffeine, since the whole idea behind decaf is the removal of caffeine, it doesn’t really do a good or better job at waking us up as our regular cup of joe.
Caffeine in regular coffee is an active stimulant that keeps us alert mentally and physically.
Taking coffee drinks right after waking up can disturb stomach function, and right before bed at night would impair the quality of your sleep. And this is a common issue that many individuals face, so they turn toward decaf coffee because they can’t leave coffee.
However, in this case, decaf coffee has shallow caffeine content and won’t keep you energized as regular coffee does.
People who experience insomnia should switch to decaffeinated coffee, which aids a person in experiencing better sleep quality.
Most of the time, the caffeine content and taste of decaf usually depend on the process used to decaffeinate the coffee beans.
Some decaffeinating method utilizes substances that can make you fall asleep despite taking a full cup of coffee.
On the contrary, because some caffeine content is still in decaf coffee, people sensitive to this stimulant can still react to it in any way.
If you are a serious coffee lover but want to limit caffeine intake, decaf might be better.
Is decaffeinated coffee healthier?
Decaf coffee is healthier for those who are sensitive to caffeine. But its lack of caffeine removes some of the health benefits that come with a regular cup of coffee.
It contains many antioxidants that regular coffee has, so if you have caffeine sensitivity but still want to enjoy your coffee. Decaf coffee is a healthier option for you.
Watch the video to learn more about if decaf coffee is healthier:
All in all, coffee has many advantages over decaf. It is famous for boosting alertness and reducing the feeling of lethargy and tiredness. These effects are directly linked with the naturally found caffeine stimulants in coffee.
Still, where caffeine does have some health benefits, it also has its fair share of many side effects.
On the other hand, decaf has minimum to no caffeine in it, but it has its health benefits. If someone is sensitive toward caffeine, then decaf is their best go-to option to enjoy coffee.