Last updated: August 7, 2021

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Welcome to our big decaffeinated coffee test 2021. Here we present all the decaffeinated coffees we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the internet.

In this way, we would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best decaffeinated coffee for you.

You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should be aware of if you want to buy decaffeinated coffee.




Summary

  • Decaffeinated coffee allows you to enjoy the popular hot drink without the stimulant effect. What's more, even if you have a caffeine intolerance, you don't have to give up coffee.
  • There are basically three different decaffeination processes. The most highly regarded is the Swiss water process. Here, the original aromatic taste of the coffee bean is lost the least, but it is also the most expensive variant.
  • Coffee made from Arabica beans is the most popular and also the most suitable for the decaffeination process.

The Best Decaffeinated Coffee: Our Choices

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying decaffeinated coffee

What is decaffeinated coffee and how is it made?

As the name suggests, it is coffee without caffeine content. This means that the stimulating effect is absent.

This is made possible by special extraction processes. In this process, the green, still unroasted coffee beans swell in warm water so that the caffeine can be extracted. Once this has happened, the same roasting and further processing follows as with ordinary coffee. There are various decaffeination processes, which will be discussed in more detail in a later paragraph.

Nowadays, almost all procedures are very clean and precise, but there is still a (minimal) risk of chemicals getting into the coffee. The amount of chemicals is so small that they cannot cause any harm to your body. However, you should be aware of this before consuming decaffeinated coffee.

Decaffeinated coffee is a welcome change for coffee junkies and a suitable alternative for anyone with a caffeine sensitivity. (Image source: unsplash.com / Nathan Dumlao)

Who is decaffeinated coffee suitable for?

Decaffeinated coffee is basically suitable for anyone who doesn't want to miss the taste of Germany's most popular drink, but for certain reasons should or even must do without caffeine. The decaffeinated version is a good alternative for intolerances, sleep problems or pregnancy.

The following symptoms in combination with coffee are considered potential indicators of a caffeine intolerance or sensitivity:

  • Stomach ache, flatulence, digestive problems
  • Trembling, palpitations, sweating
  • Heartburn
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia

Many women stop drinking coffee completely during pregnancy. However, there is actually no striking connection between coffee consumption by expectant mothers and miscarriages, premature births or even complications during childbirth. It is clear, however, that caffeine is absorbed by the unborn baby via the placenta.

Doctors therefore advise not to exceed the intended daily consumption of about 300mg, or 2-3 cups, especially during pregnancy. If you want to be on the safe side, use the caffeine-free option during this time. By the way, the same applies to breastfeeding.

Does decaffeinated coffee still contain caffeine?

There is no such thing as a coffee product that is one hundred percent caffeine-free.

Despite advanced filtration methods, it is almost impossible to remove all the caffeine. For this reason, there is always a certain margin, which varies somewhat from region to region.

Within the EU, coffee with a maximum of 0.1 percent caffeine may be sold as decaffeinated. Instant coffee is more lenient, with up to 0.3 per cent allowed. On the international market, you can sometimes even find coffee with three percent caffeine under the label "decaffeinated".

How much does decaffeinated coffee cost?

Decaffeinated coffee comes in all kinds of price ranges. Based on different factors such as the quality, the production process, the variety and brand, the price naturally varies.

The average price is between 10 and 30 euros/kg.

Organic and Fairtrade goods always have a slightly higher price. The same applies to coffee that has been decaffeinated using the Swiss water process or the CO2 process.

In addition, Robusta coffee tends to be cheaper, as Arabica coffee is considered to be of higher quality and nobler. Quality brands therefore often advertise with slogans such as "100% Arabica" and sell their products somewhat more expensively.

So it is quite possible to pay six euros/kg for very cheap coffee and around 60 euros/kg for very expensive coffee.
So there is something for almost everyone in the wide range of prices.

What alternatives are there to decaffeinated coffee?

Decaffeinated coffee IS already an alternative to regular coffee. However, there are other similar alternative drinks with lower caffeine content and gentler effects:

  • Black tea
  • Green tea
  • Malt coffee
  • Cereal coffee

Those who drink coffee only for its soothing warmth or out of sheer habit can switch to cocoa or tea of any kind.

Decision: What types of decaffeinated coffee are there and which one is right for you?

There are basically four different types, but around 99% of the coffee sold worldwide comes from the two most important: Arabica and Robusta. Therefore, these two will be presented to you in more detail below.

An essential point that contributes to your decision is the choice of coffee beans. (Image source: unsplash.com / Tina Guina)

If you have decided to buy decaffeinated coffee, there are two alternatives to choose from:

  • Arabica
  • Robusta

We want to help you make your decision in the following section so that you buy the best coffee bean for you.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of the Arabica bean?

The bean of the Caffea Arabica coffee plant is the best known and most popular in the world. About 60-70% of all coffee comes from it. It is considered the noblest coffee bean and is particularly appreciated for its fine and varied taste.

Overall, Arabica tastes quite mild, which is due to a low caffeine content of 0.8% to 1.4%.

Arabica is mainly cultivated in Ethiopia, Colombia and Brazil, where it grows at an altitude of 1000 to 2000 metres. The plant is considered demanding and quite susceptible to disease.

Advantages
  • Aromatically diverse
  • Less caffeine
Disadvantages
  • More expensive
  • Demanding plant

What distinguishes the Robusta bean and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

The Robusta plant can be described as the "cheaper sister of Arabica". Due to its higher caffeine content (1.7% to 4%), its aroma is more intense and stronger, but it has significantly fewer flavour nuances.

It grows mainly in the Asian region, with most yields coming from Vietnam, India and Indonesia. Coffea Robusta is very hardy and used to sunny areas and lower altitudes (0 to 700 metres).

Advantages
  • Cheaper
  • Hardy
Disadvantages
  • Aromatically monotonous
  • More caffeine

Both Arabica and Robusta have their advantages. Due to its low caffeine content, the Arabica bean is particularly suitable for decaffeination. The extraction process does not have to be repeated as often with this variety, which saves energy, time and money.

Incidentally, the two coffee beans are also easy to distinguish visually: Arabica beans are elongated and have an S-shaped notch in the middle. In contrast, beans from the Robusta plant stand out with a rounded shape and a straight notch.

Buying criteria: You can use these factors to compare and evaluate decaffeinated coffees

Now we would like to show you some aspects that you can use to guide your final purchase decision.

The following criteria should help you compare the different types of decaffeinated coffee:

  • Production process
  • Seal
  • Taste/Aroma
  • Consistency
  • Suitability for coffee maker and stove-top pot
  • Health aspect

Production process

We present the three most common processes for producing decaffeinated coffee:

The Swiss-water process

In this process, soluble components, including caffeine, are removed from the bean with hot water. The processed beans are discarded and the caffeine is extracted from the remaining water through an activated carbon filter.

In the next step, new beans are added to the now caffeine-free water mixture. Only the caffeine is now extracted from these, as the water is already enriched with all the other components of the previous beans.

The whole process is repeated until the desired amount of caffeine is removed. The beans are then dried and processed further.

Direct process

In this variant, the caffeine is removed directly from the soaked coffee bean using a solvent. This is usually dichloromethane, methylene chloride or ethyl acetate.

To remove the solvent after extraction, the coffee beans are steamed and then washed clean. This process is also repeated until the optimum degree of decaffeination is reached.

CO2 process

This method is similar to the direct method. However, instead of a solvent, carbon dioxide is used here. The soaked coffee beans are placed in an extraction container into which CO2 is pumped under high pressure. The enormous pressure literally charges the CO2 with caffeine. In this way, the stimulating agent can be easily removed from the beans. After several repetitions, the decaffeinated beans are dried and then roasted.
The Swiss-water method and the CO2 process are very popular because they are said to contribute particularly to the preservation of an intense coffee aroma. In addition, the end product is free of chemicals. For precisely these two reasons, however, the process involves comparatively higher costs and greater effort.

Seal

When buying a product, more and more people attach importance not only to quality but also to fair production methods. Since coffee only grows, is cultivated and usually processed in countries that tend to be poorer, fair production and fair trade play an important role.

There are various seals that stand for fairness and represent the values mentioned. We have listed the most important ones:

  • FairTrade
  • Rainforest Allicance Certified
  • UTZ
  • TransFair

Taste/flavour

As already mentioned, the taste depends strongly on the choice of coffee bean. This table should make your choice easier:

Variety aroma
Arabica smooth, mild, velvety, high-quality, noble, fine
Robusta bitter, smoky, dark-chocolatey, intense

The production method is also important. The Swiss-water method and the CO2 method preserve the flavour best.

Consistency

Decaffeinated coffee, just like the classic variety, can be bought either in the form of beans, already ground or in an instant version.

Of course, it's up to you and your needs which type you finally decide on. (Image source: unsplash.com / Typer Nix)

Fragrant coffee lovers swear by whole beans. Home-ground coffee is essential for a pleasurable taste experience. However, keep in mind that you need a suitable coffee maker for this!

Ground coffee is used in a filter coffee machine. Although filter coffee is frowned upon, it is the quality of your coffee that determines whether it tastes good or not. The consistency in which you buy it is secondary.

For those who are in a hurry, instant coffee is a good choice. You can buy it either in larger containers or in pre-portioned sticks. Instant coffee is brewed with hot water and can be drunk immediately.

Coffee capsules are another option. Here, too, a special machine is needed. The advantage of capsules is the enormous variety of flavours. The disadvantage, however, is the high, hardly avoidable plastic consumption due to the packaging.

Suitability for coffee maker and stovetop pot

Just like regular coffee, the decaffeinated variety can be prepared in coffee machines as well as in coffee pots.
As the caffeine has already been removed before roasting, there is no need for different coffee-making procedures.

Health aspects of decaffeinated coffee

Is decaffeinated coffee healthy? Is it harmful?

These are questions that almost everyone who is considering decaffeinated coffee as an alternative is concerned with. There are a lot of conflicting opinions on this, which is why it is difficult to draw a conclusion. Two topics that are discussed quite frequently are the effect on cholesterol levels and chemical pollutants in coffee.

Cholesterol

According to several studies, frequent consumption of the decaffeinated beverage can indeed lead to increased cholesterol levels. This side effect does not exist with regular coffee.

So if you already have high cholesterol, you should be careful with decaffeinated coffee.

Chemical pollutants

A widespread concern is the amount of harmful substances that get into the coffee, and thus into your own body, through the decaffeination process.

First, it should be noted that this problem can only occur with the direct process. But even here, the potential amount of dichloromethane in coffee is on average less than 0.15mg per kilogram.

If you don't want to rely on this completely, it is best to buy coffee that has been decaffeinated using the Swiss-water method or the CO2 process.

Overall, there is no right or wrong, no clear "healthy or "unhealthy". Some people do very well with decaffeinated coffee, others not so much. Ultimately, you have to decide for yourself what is good for your body and what you feel comfortable with.

Facts worth knowing about decaffeinated coffee

Is decaffeinated coffee also suitable for children?

In principle, there is no age limit, but doctors believe that children should avoid all types of coffee. Both regular and caffeinated.

From teenage onwards, coffee is okay in moderation. Nevertheless, even here a light coffee or the decaffeinated variety is actually more appropriate than, for example, a strong espresso.

How noticeable is the difference in taste compared to caffeinated coffee?

The coffee bean consists of about 400 flavour components. It borders on the impossible to extract just one single substance - namely caffeine - during decaffeination. Depending on the process, more or less flavours are lost.

For this reason, decaffeinated beverages have the reputation of tasting boring. But this prejudice is only partly justified. While cheap, cheaply produced coffee is definitely not only low in price but also in flavour quality, high-quality products can definitely keep up with ordinary coffee in terms of taste.
We have listed the best products in our ranking. You're sure to find a coffee there that meets your expectations.

In what quantities should decaffeinated coffee be consumed?

For a healthy adult, 400-500 mg of caffeine per day is absolutely safe, but more is not recommended.

What about the decaffeinated version?

Although the stimulant is largely eliminated, it is important to keep consumption in moderation.

Although there are no fixed guidelines, the following also applies here: listen to your body and don't overdo it. Too much is always harmful in the long run!

Which myths about decaffeinated coffee are true?

There are a number of myths surrounding the popular hot drink. However, there is a clear need to clarify some of them:

Myths Clarification
"Coffee promotes acne" False! The only potential trigger for bad skin is the milk in your coffee.
"Coffee causes bad teeth" False! Coffee does not cause any harm. Increased consumption can only cause discolouration of the teeth.
"Coffee contributes to hyperacidity" Correct! Coffee is a slightly acidic drink, which is why it is avoided during strict alkaline fasting. Otherwise, however, one to three cups a day will do no harm at all
"Coffee is detrimental to histamine intolerance" Correct! However, those who cannot tolerate histamine can resort to the decaffeinated variety, espresso or grain coffee.

Image source: unsplash.com / Jessica Lewis

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