Decaffeinated coffee, often known as decaf, has long been a source of controversy and misunderstanding among coffee enthusiasts and even ordinary people. While some vouch for the benefits it offers, others are skeptical, casting doubt on its flavor, quality, and even the decaffeination procedure itself. Because of this, many people may look down on decaf coffee and consider it an outcast. But is it? Let’s find out what decaf coffee really is, the myths that surround it, the facts, as well as decaf recommendations that you might want to try. This detailed review will educate you and help you make informed decisions for a better coffee experience.
What is Decaf Coffee and how is it decaffeinated?
Decaffeinated coffee, or popularly known as decaf coffee, is coffee that has had the majority, or around 97% of its caffeine removed.  While it’s not everyone’s cup of coffee, it’s considered the perfect option for people who enjoy the flavor and aroma of coffee but also wish to avoid or limit their intake of caffeine either for health reasons or just personal preferences. If you want to enjoy the coffee experience without the stimulant effects of caffeine, then decaf coffee might be the one for you.
So how are coffee beans decaffeinated? There are several methods to strip the caffeine out of coffee beans, but most of them involve the use of water, organic solvents, and carbon dioxide. Here’s a summary of how all of these work: 
- Water method or Swiss Water Process – Contrary to a lot of claims that decaf coffee is harmful and can only be processed with tons of chemicals, the Swiss water process is a solvent-free decaffeinating method making it eco-friendly. The process begins by soaking green coffee beans and water to dissolve and extract both caffeine and coffee flavor. Then, the extract goes through activated charcoal filters to further reduce caffeine content. The process repeats until it is ready for roasting.
- Methylene Chloride Process – In this method, green coffee beans are steamed first before letting them soak in methylene chloride, a chemical that bonds and dissolves the caffeine. After that, the beans are rinsed, and the majority of the solvent is removed through evaporation, along with the caffeine.
- Carbon Dioxide Process – Somehow similar to the methylene chloride process, liquid carbon dioxide or CO2 is used to remove caffeine from the beans. This serves as a solvent that works through both low and high temperatures to remove caffeine. After evaporating, what is left behind are decaffeinated beans.
Debunking Common Myths about Decaf Coffee
A lot of the misconceptions and myths about decaf coffee stems from its lack of caffeine. Many people think that the process of decaffeinating beans is also equivalent to removing most of coffee’s rich and natural flavor, therefore being low-quality – which is not true if you read about it. To give justice to one of the most controversial cups of coffee, we will bust some old myths about decaf coffee with facts. Check them out:
1. Myth: Decaf coffee has no health benefits
Fact: Many of the antioxidants present in regular coffee, such as chlorogenic acids, are still present in decaffeinated coffee. Antioxidants are important for our health and are well known for preventing cell damage and inflammation in the body. Just because it’s decaffeinated doesn’t mean that its nutrients have been removed or that it can’t be beneficial for people. Some of the benefits that decaf coffee equally shares with regular coffee include: 
- Preventing the development of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease
- Reduces the risk of rectal cancer and liver cirrhosis
- Improved mental health, metabolism, and athletic performance
- Regulates blood sugar for diabetes patients and reduces the risk of type II diabetes
2. Myth: Decaf coffee is tasteless and bland compared to regular coffee
Fact: Not true! Decaf coffee can just taste as flavorful as regular coffee even after the decaffeinating process. The flavor of coffee may be influenced by the origin of the coffee beans, the roasting procedure, and the brewing technique. Specialty decaf coffee, for example, frequently goes through careful processing methods to maintain its distinctive flavors. Decaffeination techniques like the Swiss Water Process, are also a safe method that preserves the beans’ natural oils and tastes to preserve rich coffee flavors and aromas.
3. Myth: Decaf coffee is always made with dangerous chemicals
Fact: Modern decaffeination procedures now place a higher priority on safety and environmental awareness than older ones, which may have used potentially toxic solvents like methylene chloride or ethyl acetate. Regardless, these solvent processes are strictly regulated to ensure that the coffee is harmless. Meanwhile, solvent-free methods like the Swiss Water Process ensure that the coffee is free of chemical residues by removing caffeine using only water, activated charcoal, and a natural green coffee extract. Save your worries because decaf coffee is still safe to drink!
4. Myth: Decaf coffee is 100% caffeine-free
Fact: Not all traces of caffeine can be eliminated during the decaffeination process. Most of the time, around 97% of the caffeine in decaf coffee is eliminated. But of course, if you compare the 80 to 100 milligrams of caffeine in a regular cup of coffee, decaf coffee only has 2 to 5 milligrams of caffeine per 8-ounce cup.  So if you’re looking at enjoying a cup of coffee without having to worry about staying awake and being hyperactive, decaf coffee can do the job.
5. Myth: Decaf coffee uses different and low-quality coffee beans
Fact: Just like regular caffeinated coffee, the same premium Arabica or Robusta beans are used to make decaf coffee. The only difference is that decaf coffee has significantly lower caffeine content than caffeinated coffee. As mentioned earlier, specialty decaf coffees use beans that are frequently obtained from certain areas and are carefully chosen and taken care of for their distinctive flavor characteristics, this makes sure that the beans are of the highest quality despite being decaffeinated.
Flavorful Decaf Coffee Options You Can Try
Now that you know what decaf coffee is, how it is processed, and how it is still beneficial for our health, you might feel the urge to try or even switch to decaf coffee. We got you covered! Here is a list of recommended decaf coffee options from a variety of categories that you can try that can just be as flavorful as your regular cup of coffee:  
- No Fun Jo Decaf (Dark Roast) – Perfect for dark roast coffee lovers who want to ditch caffeine, No Fun Jo is a decaf blend that combines a sweet and exotic mix of milk chocolate and sweet blueberry flavors. It also uses the Swiss water process, thus giving the beans a richer flavor.
- Onyx Coffee Lab: Columbia Huila (Medium Roast) – Using single-origin Columbian beans cultivated from the Huila region, this medium roast decaf coffee from Onyx Coffee Lab boasts bright flavors like berry, citrus, and apple with a dark chocolate undertone. Although it uses the ethyl acetate solvent method, the sweetness is still said to be effectively preserved.
- Stumptown Coffee Roasters (Swiss Water Decaf) – This medium-roast decaf coffee has a distinct flavor profile carefully preserved through the reliable Swiss water method. Stumptown Coffee Roaster’s Trapper Creek blend has a honey undertone and fragrant scents of cherry and milk chocolate.
- Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Decaf (Light Blend) – A great breakfast mix, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters offers a light roast decaf blend that has a subtle sweetness and hint of nuttiness. Its mild flavor is perfect for those who want to start their morning with a warm cup of coffee that has a mellow finish.
- Lavazza Dek Whole Bean Decaf (Espresso Blend) – For our espresso lovers out there, Lavazza Dek has a decaf espresso blend made for you. Made from Vietnamese and Brazilian Arabica beans, this espresso decaf has flavors of hazelnut and roasted cereal which can be smoother than dark roast espressos. Its beans also produce a thick crema, improving the coffee’s body and mouthfeel, you won’t even realize that it’s decaf!
- Cafés Lugat Decaf Coffee (Specialty Coffee) – Using beans specifically from the Cauca region of Columbia, Cafés Lugat decaf sugar cane coffee boasts gourmet notes including Tonka bean, pineapple, orange, and of course, cane sugar.
Whether you prefer a lesser caffeine consumption or are looking for a late-night treat, savor the complex flavors, subtle fragrances, and pure pleasure of a fine cup of decaf coffee. We hope our guide has opened your mind to accepting decaf coffee. Feel free to explore, you might just be surprised by the richness of flavor that this underrated beverage offers.
 Nishida, K. (2022). Everything you need to know about Decaf Coffee. Japanese Coffee Co. https://japanesecoffeeco.com/blogs/japanese-coffee-blog/everything-you-need-to-know-about-decaf-coffee
 Rdn, A. B. M. (2023, February 8). Decaf coffee: good or bad? Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/decaf-coffee-good-or-bad#Regular-coffee-has-several-advantages-over-decaf
 Rose, D. (2023, August 18). The 11 Best Decaf Coffees of 2023. The Spruce Eats. https://www.thespruceeats.com/best-decaf-coffee-4771335
 Inès, & Daury, I. (2023, July 13). Top 10: best decaf coffee beans. MaxiCoffee Blog. https://www.maxicoffee.com/blog/en-gb/best-decaf-coffee-beans/