a bag of decaf coffee beans

Is Decaf Coffee Good or Bad: Complete Guide on Benefits and Side Effects

People love to drink coffee, but not everyone can manage the caffeine. Fortunately, decaf coffee exists. Since coffee naturally comes caffeinated, you might worry if decaf coffee beans can brew a healthy cup. 

To make decaffeinated coffee, manufacturers need to remove caffeine. Over 100 years ago, when scientists first began removing caffeine, they used toxic chemicals. Now, they use a gentle process that is considered healthy. The methods scientists use to remove caffeine from coffee is why so many wonder if there is any good decaf coffee.

Is decaf coffee good or bad? Taking decaf instead of regular coffee may have several benefits. You may get better sleep, energy lasting throughout the day, better hydration and have less nausea. You also no longer need to rely on the morning cup of joe to keep you awake, after a few days of removing caffeine from your diet.

Should you switch? There are other reasons that may compel you to drink decaffeinated coffee instead of regular coffee. Read on to find out more.

Difference Between Decaf and Regular Coffee

Coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world, and it is also considered healthy. The one big difference between regular coffee and decaf coffee is that the caffeine is removed. This can only be done by using a solvent or carbon dioxide to safely remove the caffeine. The removal procedures are done before the beans are roasted.

How Is Caffeine Removed from Coffee

A German coffee seller named Ludwig Roselius accidentally learned how to decaffeinate coffee after receiving a load of coffee beans that were soaked in seawater. He realized that soaking coffee beans would remove the caffeine and could open up his sales to more people. 

Instead of sticking with seawater to do the job, he added benzene to the process. Unfortunately, benzene is a toxic chemical that irritates the respiratory tract, eyes, and skin. It can also cause headaches and dizziness just by inhaling it. Too much exposure to benzene can cause cancer and blood disorders. 

Roselius’s method of using benzene to extract caffeine is no longer being used, as safer methods get the job done. But some people still worry about putting a natural product through an unnecessary chemical procedure. 

Today, processors use different methods. Some only use water to soak the caffeine out, as Roselius learned in 1905. Some processors do use a chemical solvent that is considered potentially dangerous. They use ethyl acetate and methylene chloride to remove caffeine. This seems unnecessary, as water or carbon dioxide can be used safely. 

The simplest way to remove most of the caffeine is to soak or steam green coffee beans. This opens their pores so the caffeine can be removed. Then, the roasters treat the beans like regular ones and roast them to a rich flavor. 

Regular and decaf coffee have the same nutritional values. But, you might drink decaf because it often has a lighter taste and less pungent odor. The caffeine-removal process might lighten the color of the decaffeinated coffee beans. In most situations, you might not be able to tell the difference between the two types.

Is Decaf Coffee Healthy

With the new caffeine-removal systems, most decaf coffee is healthy. No-caffeine coffee has 85% of the antioxidants that regular coffee has. About 15% of the antioxidants leave the coffee bean when removing the caffeine. And, coffee in either form is usually the top source of antioxidants in European and American diets. 

When you buy your decaf coffee, investigate the method used to remove caffeine. The best choices are the most natural, like using water or carbon dioxide. 

The antioxidants in decaffeinated coffee include polyphenols and hydroxycinnamic acids. When consumed in moderation, research shows that these antioxidants protect the nervous system, reproductive system, and skeletal system. Moderate consumption is about three or four cups per day.

Nutritional Value of Decaf Coffee

When you drink coffee, you benefit from the antioxidants that reduce the problems that come from free radicals. They decrease oxidative damage that reduces your chances of developing heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Antioxidants also have some nutrients, like small percentages of magnesium, potassium, and vitamin B3. These nutrients are in every cup of coffee you may drink throughout the day, so they add up.

electrons from antioxidant reacting to reduce free radicals, is decaf coffee good or bad

What are the Side Effects of Decaffeinated Coffee

Decaffeinated coffee has the same side effects of regular coffee. In fact, most decaf has a little bit of caffeine in it. If you drink decaf, you may have experienced side effects that are unique to even the best decaffeinated coffee. One of those problems is possible heart complications, as people who drink decaf expect that they will not have increased blood pressure. 

Decaf coffee has a bit of caffeine, which could affect your blood pressure and increase heart complications for people prone to heart problems. 

Another side effect of decaf coffee is an increase in stomach acid. Decaf coffee triggers the hormone gastrin, so stomach acid increases, and it can increase the chance of developing acid reflux. 

If you normally drink regular coffee, you may experience headaches and tiredness moving to decaf. Caffeinated coffee can relieve headaches, especially caffeine-induced headaches. And, caffeinated coffee will wake you up. Without caffeine, you might not get the jolt of energy that they like in their regular coffee. 

If you drink decaf coffee that was processed with methylene chloride, you could have some side effects, especially if you drink several cups per day. In small doses, methylene chloride can cause wheezing or coughing. High doses are more dangerous and can cause headaches, vomiting, and other flu-like symptoms.

Why Drink Organic Decaf Coffee

The FDA said there wasn’t enough methylene chloride in coffee, so they allowed processors to continue to use it. Unfortunately, coffee producers do not have to say how they decaffeinate their coffee. Many say that they use natural processes, so you do not know if they have methylene chloride or other harmful toxins. It is best to buy organic decaf coffee, so you know it is safe. 

Many organic coffee growers and roasters have small batches. If you are worried about what is used to process your coffee, you can contact an organic coffee farmer to ask them. Their answers should give you peace of mind. 

Rows of coffee on a coffee plantation in Colombia

If you are unable to find out where your coffee comes from via the label, you can always talk to your grocer or buy coffee from a locally owned coffee shop. You should also look for the official organic seal, so you know unnecessary chemicals weren’t used in production.

Does Decaf Coffee Give You Energy

The quick answer is no, but some brands might give you a little boost. Decaffeinated coffee has a minimal amount of caffeine in it, but usually not enough to make a difference in your energy levels. In fact, you might feel tired when you first switch to decaf coffee, especially if you are used to drinking caffeine coffee. 

Regular coffee has up to 95 milligrams of caffeine in one cup. Decaffeinated coffee can have up to 14 milligrams of caffeine in it. If you drink caffeinated coffee regularly, the small amount of caffeine in decaf might not affect you. The gentle procedure to remove caffeine from coffee beans does not remove it all. If you want slightly more caffeine, try a decaffeinated espresso.

Does Decaf Coffee Taste Different

Decaf coffee tends to have a mild flavor. So, if you prefer drinking bold coffee you might not like the lighter taste. But, several types of regular coffee have mild flavors, so you might not know the difference unless someone tells you. Here’s a fun video on decaf vs regular coffee taste challenge.

Benefits of Drinking Regular Coffee

Unfortunately, not much research has been done on decaffeinated coffee. Many people enjoy drinking coffee because it has caffeine, and therefore provides stimulant effects. You might feel more allergy and awake after drinking coffee because of the naturally occurring caffeine. 

Caffeinated coffee might improve your mood and mental function. It also can help you burn fat by increasing your metabolic rate. Athletes like to drink coffee because it can enhance their performance. Women benefit from drinking coffee because it reduces their chances of feeling depressed or suicidal. 

Most of the benefits of drinking caffeinated coffee come from caffeine. Fortunately, nutrients like vitamin B3 and magnesium are the same in both types of coffee.

How Many Cups of Decaf Coffee a Day is Safe

If you love to drink coffee, you could probably sip on it all day long. Drinking two cups of decaf coffee is safe, and it offers several health benefits. Research shows that both regular and decaf reduce mental decline that comes with typical aging. All you need is to drink two cups of decaf coffee to protect your brain and its neural pathways.

How Many Calories in Decaf Coffee

If you drink your coffee black, you are drinking a calorie-free beverage. Black coffee also does not have any fat or protein either. If you add creamer, whipped cream, sugar, or other extras, you add calories, fat, and a bit of protein depending on how much you add. 

But if you drink fancy coffee beverages from popular restaurants, you can trust that they have quite a bit of calories and sugar.

Why Drink Decaf Coffee

If you have sensitivity to caffeine, decaffeinated coffee gives you a way to enjoy the tasty beverage and stay healthy. Here’s a short video on caffeine sensitivity if you are not sure what it is.

If you wonder, does decaf coffee raise blood pressure, generally it does not. Many people who cannot drink regular coffee because caffeine affects their blood pressure can enjoy decaf. Your health care provider can tell you if decaf is safe if you have high blood pressure problems. 

Drinking coffee, even decaf, in moderation, is best for your body. Studies show that drinking too much coffee could hurt your body. People who drink too much increase their chances of stroke and heart disease. 

If you have a caffeine sensitivity, you could overwhelm your nervous systems. You might feel overly anxious when you drink regular coffee. This is because coffee and anxiety go well together, as the caffeine can trigger anxiety. Decaf coffee will not trigger anxiety. 

Drinking too much coffee might also increase your chances of having sleep trouble, heart arrhythmia, and restlessness. 

If you take medications that interact with caffeine, decaf coffee might be a suitable alternative for you. But, since there are between 8 and 14 milligrams of caffeine in most decaf coffees, you should talk to your health care provider or your pharmacist before drinking decaf and taking caffeine-sensitive messages. 

Obstetricians recommend that pregnant women should not drink caffeinated beverages. If they want to have coffee, decaf is their only option. Health care providers also suggest that children and teens should not drink beverages with caffeine in them.

Does Decaf Coffee Dehydrate You

Caffeinated beverages are often linked to dehydration because many of them act as diuretics. If you wonder if decaf coffee is dehydrating, your coffee habits might force you to use the bathroom more frequently. Decaf coffee will hydrate your body, but it is not an equal replacement for water. You should drink water to stay hydrated. 

Decaf coffee and its tannins will stimulate the bitter taste buds in your mouth. Because the bitter taste buds cause your mouth to pucker, you might start to notice your mouth becoming dry. This does not mean decaf is dehydrating. It only means your bitter taste buds are reacting normally.

Why People Don’t Like Decaf

Nearly 85% of Americans drink caffeinated beverages, and one of those is coffee. Caffeine is a stimulant that many people rely on each day. Caffeine is addicting, but the benefits outweigh the harm. It is the caffeine that draws people – possibly even you – to organic coffee. We drink it when we are tired in the morning, and we appreciate that it wakes us up. 

Decaf cannot do this, so people think that as coffee it is useless. But, this is far from the truth. Decaf coffee gives people who are sensitive to caffeine an option to drink a tasty, warm beverage each day.

So is Decaf Coffee Good or Bad?

Eliminating caffeine from your diet has several benefits. You might find that you sleep better, have less nausea, and eventually notice that your energy lasts throughout the day. A few days after you stop drinking caffeinated beverages, you no longer rely on the drug to keep you awake. 

It wouldn’t take much to shift the attitude of the general public towards decaf coffee. Marketers would have to shift their focus on the cool-factor of drinking caffeine to the benefits of avoiding caffeine. Imagine how different the world would be if we all drank decaf instead of regular.