For people who have begrudgingly substituted coffee for decaf coffee, the fact that even this has some caffeine in it might be troublesome. But let’s unpack this together and figure out what it means!
When you hear about decaffeinated coffee, you might get the impression that it contains zero caffeine, because of the name, right? That’s what the ‘de’ particle means, after all! But the thing is even decaf coffee contains some caffeine.
I usually scoff at the idea of decaf because what’s the point, amirite? Because of that line of reasoning, I think that for the longest time I’ve been biased about the taste of decaf. But things have changed lately since I’ve realized how much of a coffee addict I am. But also, as a sort of functional anxious person, I had to cut back because the caffeine was making my anxiety so much worse. The result was that I learned to appreciate the taste of decaf a bit more. Even though it doesn’t really compare to the authentic roasted thing.
But I just found out that decaf also has caffeine and that has made my anxiety flare. So I had to deal with it the way I always do: through research and understanding.
How much caffeine in decaf coffee?
The good news is that there’s not that much caffeine in your decaf. But the little of it that you can find there is important. Here’s why. The coffee beans are harvested and the decaffeinated through different processes. One of these processes is placing the beans in a solution with a solvent (methylene chloride or ethyl acetate) that leaves the coffee before you are able to take a sip. The solvents connect to the caffeine molecules and effectively remove them from the beans. Other processes are with pressurized carbon dioxide or through the water-based “Swiss Water Technique”.
These processes are applied over and over and the caffeine thins out as much as possible. But at the end of the process, most types of decaf coffee are about 97% caffeine-free. Never more than that. According to studies, an 8-ounce cup of decaf can contain up to 7 milligrams of caffeine. 5 mg is considered average. But how much caffeine is in a regular cup? More than 100 mg. The difference tends to be pretty big then. So you can keep enjoying your decaf, stress-free!