If you have to give up caffeine, but coffee is just too good to let go of, there is an alternative – decaf coffee!
In theory, decaf coffee should provide you with the same alluring taste and aroma minus the downsides of caffeine, but is it really so?
Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
It’s very hard to find a cup of decaffeinated coffee that will be able to fool you for at least one moment and make you think it’s the real thing.
After all, not every regular hot brewed coffee tastes great. Some types and brands are way better than others, and so is the case with decaf coffee too.
This is where I step in. I have drunk my way through the most popular brands and found the best decaf coffee currently available on the market.
Are you eager to try it too? Read on and find out more!
The market is filled with amazing coffee brands and products, which is why I’ve selected and reviewed the best ten decaf options.
Table of Contents
- What is Decaf Coffee?
- What Changed?
- What Are The Decaffeinating Methods Used Now?
- Our Reviews For The Best Decaf Coffee Brands
- 1. Kicking Horse Decaf Coffee
- 2. Eight O’clock Whole Bean Decaf Coffee
- 3. Cafe Don Pablo Colombian Gourmet Decaf Coffee
- 4. Waka Coffee Quality Decaffeinated Instant Coffee
- 5. New England Coffee, Decaffeinated French Vanilla
- 6. Peet’s Coffee Decaf Major Dickason’s Blend
- 7. No Fun Jo Organic Decaf Coffee, Swiss Water Process
- 8. Gevalia Signature Blend Decaf K-Cups
- 9. Sumatra Decaf Organic Fair Trade Coffee
- 10. Trader’s Joe’s Decaf Coffee, Medium Roast Beans
- Honorable Mention: Costa Rica Decaf Tarrazu Coffee by Volcanica
- How to Prepare the Best Decaf Coffee Beans?
- Is Decaff Coffee Good or Bad for You?
- Final Thoughts
What is Decaf Coffee?
Before we move on to talk about the best decaffeinated cup of coffee you can come by, we should honor this nectar of the gods by learning a little bit about it!
Decaf coffee has at least 97% less caffeine than the same regular coffee. Decaffeinating coffee has a long history as the practice began in the early 1900’s.
At first, decaf coffee tasted rather bland and gave a bad aftertaste. In this way, it earned itself some bad reputation, but modern decaffeinating methods greatly improved and you can now enjoy a cup of decaf that will satisfy even the most extreme coffee enthusiasts.
The original decaffeinating process was exclusively done by the use of chemicals. Besides, the earliest decaf coffees were only “low-caffeine.” As a result, the coffee was lacking flavor but still had a significant amount of caffeine. There was simply no point in having it.
Luckily, the process of decaffeination has significantly improved and modernized over the years, and the decaf coffee nowadays can rival some of the top-notch regular roasts on the market.
What Are The Decaffeinating Methods Used Now?
1. The Direct Method
The direct method includes:
- Steaming the beans.
- Soaking them in warm water and the solvent which dissolves caffeine.
- Removing that water
- Pumping in some fresh water to replenish the beans.
This process includes the use of chemicals, and you are troubled by this fact, am I right?
The good news is that the Methylene Chloride, which is most often used as the solvent, does not represent a health risk. Why?
Well, the minute traces of this chemical will completely evaporate during the roasting process. The FDA has never found any traces of this chemical in any green coffee tested so far.
2. The Water Method
This method goes through the following steps:
- Soaking beans in water.
- Pumping the water off into a separate tank and adding solvent.
- Removing the solvent.
- Caffeine-free water is pumped back into the beans.
The idea behind this process is to return all the flavor components back into the coffee beans. Unfortunately, a lot is lost.
Washed out taste not worth the trouble.
3. The Swiss Water Method
Finally, this method is chemical free! The process goes through the following phases:
- Soaking beans.
- Channeling the water off.
- Pumping the water through charcoal filters.
- Pumping the caffeine-free water back into the beans.
Once again a bit wishy-washy taste.
Any other problem?
Swiss Water Process decaf coffee costs more since this method destroys the caffeine and thus prevents the manufacturers to resell it to pharmaceutical companies.
However, the fact that this method is chemical free and environment-friendly is a BIG plus. This is actually the only method used for the production of the organic decaf coffee.
4. The CO2 Method
In my humble opinion, this is the best method developed so far. How so?
Well, there is no soaking! The flavors stay locked inside the beans as all the precious oils are preserved.
The method is as follows:
- The coffee beans are subjected to a highly compressed form of carbon dioxide.
- CO2 triggers a chemical reaction and merges with the caffeine from the beans.
- Charcoal filters finally remove the caffeine from the carbon dioxide.
I will just say that one sip will be enough for you to sense the benefits of this unique solvent-free method.
Which Method Is The Best One?
As you can see, I am rooting for the CO2 method.
However, most decaf coffee on the market today has been produced by using one of the solvent-based methods. I am not fully aware of why this is the case, but I have a feeling that it has something to do with the cost of production.
So if I have to choose among solvent-based techniques, I wholeheartedly vote for the Swiss Water Process method.
Extra Info: Decaf coffee is never 100% free of caffeine. There can be as much as 3% caffeine left or as little as 0,1%, but if you have 0% tolerance to caffeine you must remember this and avoid decaf coffee as well!
Our Reviews For The Best Decaf Coffee Brands
1. Kicking Horse Decaf Coffee
If you want to drink organic decaf coffee, Kicking Horse is a great choice, especially if you are a dark-roast coffee lover.
You can probably guess that this Kicking Horse coffee is decaffeinated via the Swiss Water method, as that’s the only choice for organic brands.
This truly rich coffee comes from Central and South America and is Fairtrade certified. The company really pays attention to the wellbeing of all those involved in the production process – including our planet!
As a true dark-roast blend, the Kicking Horse decaf coffee features a hint of bitterness and a burnt aroma. Although this is minimal, medium-dark roast drinkers are sure to sense it and despise it.
This coffee is made for true dark-roast coffee drinkers who will appreciate the depth and complexity of its flavor. It’s rich and seductively aromatic with a mellow finish.
Although the taste depends on the brewing method you choose, some aromas seem to dominate in most scenarios – those of hazelnuts and chocolate.
USDA certified organic whole bean coffee
- Swiss Water processed
- Shade-grown in a socially and environmentally responsible way
- Some coffee lovers find its taste overpowering
2. Eight O’clock Whole Bean Decaf Coffee
The Eight O’Clock decaf coffee seems to have been around for ages; it has a very long tradition here in the USA.
It’s easy to find and reasonably priced, which only adds to its popularity.
It is by no means at the top of the spectrum when it comes to origin or quality, but the taste is there, and everyday users are searching for exactly that – good flavor at an even better price!
If you prefer organic, eco-friendly coffee beans, this is not your brand.
On the bright side, Eight O’Clock’s decaffeinated coffee is made from 100% Arabica beans carefully selected by the company’s master roasters. It’s a brand you can trust, and there’s no need to break the bank when you crave a cup of flavorful medium-roast decaf coffee.
The taste is more than satisfying – there is no bitterness or aftertaste. Quite the opposite, it’s smooth, rich, and aromatic.
- Sweet and well-balanced decaffeinated coffee
- Comes in sealed bags for prolonged freshness
- No organic and eco-friendly certifications
3. Cafe Don Pablo Colombian Gourmet Decaf Coffee
The Cafe Don Pablo decaf coffee is a true Colombian brand. It’s made from Colombian Supremo beans. 100% Arabica, of course.
This coffee is not mass-produced like the Eight O’Clock decaf coffee but roasted in small batches just before it’s packaged and shipped off. Therefore, it’s fresh by default.
This Don Pablo coffee is decaffeinated via the Swiss Water decaffeination process. There are no chemicals used. It’s all-natural but not organic.
When it comes to taste and aroma, Don Pablo shines like a bright star in the dark decaf sky! It’s by no means acid or bitter like most low-caf brands.
The taste is complex and rich and features natural cocoa and caramel notes. You can even taste a hint of citrus! It can complement most desserts and pastries.
If you are a true medium roast aficionado, this 99.9% caffeine-free coffee will probably disappoint you as it tastes more like a dark roast.
If you don’t mind that, you’ll be looking at a smooth blend well worth trying.
- 100% Arabica, Swiss Water decaf, medium-dark roast, GMO-free coffee
- Low acidity
- Family-owned coffee brand based in Colombia
- Some find its taste overwhelming
4. Waka Coffee Quality Decaffeinated Instant Coffee
When 100% premium Colombian Arabica coffee beans are used, you can expect even instant coffee to taste utterly delicious.
That’s exactly what you’ll love about this Waka coffee. That and the fact it’s decaffeinated!
It’s medium-roast, perfectly smooth-bodied, and well-balanced. Plus, it offers hints of citrus.
The taste is much like the freshest brew you’ve ever had, but with a much shorter and easier preparation.
The complex and rich flavor is what entices the taste buds the most. It’s almost impossible to believe that even decaf coffee can taste and smell so good.
The granules are produced using a unique advanced technology of freeze-drying.
The manufacturer’s top priority here is to preserve the intensity of the flavor and the authentic aroma. Feel free to prepare both iced and hot coffee with this instant version. You don’t have to be skilled like a Starbucks barista to enjoy delicious coffee at home.
- 100% Arabica freeze-dried decaffeinated instant coffee
- Low acidity
- Tastes like brewed coffee
- A little pricey
5. New England Coffee, Decaffeinated French Vanilla
Savor the smooth and luscious vanilla flavor of this decaffeinated coffee. Its distinct taste comes from the decaf Arabica beans sourced from the finest coffee-growing regions.
If you are a fan of medium-roast coffee, it will be easy to fall in love with this product.
New England Coffee’s Sustainable Cup Project ensures the lives of the farmers and their communities are socially, economically, and environmentally improved. Plus, this coffee is Kosher-certified and gluten-free.
- Delicious vanilla flavor
- Small-batch roasted for consistent taste
- Beans are grown in a socially, economically, and environmentally responsible way
- Artificially flavored
6. Peet’s Coffee Decaf Major Dickason’s Blend
If you think decaffeinated coffee is too weak, you probably haven’t tasted this product!
Despite being decaf, it comes with a robust flavor that’s sure to wake you up in an instant.
This is also a dark roast, which is why the flavor is more complex and tends to be less acidic.
It’s made by a company that has been around since 1966.
For decades, Peet’s Coffee has been working with farmers in some of the best coffee-growing regions in the world, making sure they use only top-quality beans for premium coffee.
- Premium decaf blend with a full flavor
- Pre-ground for easy brewing
- Beans are grown and sourced responsibly
- Ground is too fine for automatic drip coffee makers
7. No Fun Jo Organic Decaf Coffee, Swiss Water Process
Don’t let the name of this coffee fool you!
It’s far from boring — it has a full body and doesn’t require the addition of any flavorings to tickle your taste buds. It features notes of milk chocolate and blueberry.
This Jo Coffee product is decaffeinated through a method known as the Swiss Water process.
This method starts with unroasted coffee beans which are decaffeinated without the use of chemical solvents.
The top-notch taste and aroma of this coffee can also be attributed to the use of the top 2% of specialty-grade organic Arabica beans in the world.
- Complex, full-bodied, organic decaffeinated coffee
- No flavors added
- Fairtrade- and Kosher-certified hand-crafted coffee
- Some people find it too dry
8. Gevalia Signature Blend Decaf K-Cups
Gourmet coffee doesn’t need to be extremely expensive.
With this blend from Gevalia Kaffe, you can make it at home and enjoy the same delicious taste as the one in over-priced coffee shops.
This coffee is made from 100% Arabica beans, providing you with a full-bodied flavor.
It’s also 99.7% caffeine-free, meaning you can enjoy it as much as you want to. No need to worry about palpitations, jitters, and other side effects of caffeine.
One box of this product includes 12 K-cup pods. They are compatible with all Keurig coffee machines, including 2.0 models.
- 100% Arabica coffee
- Coffee pods work with all Keurig coffee makers
- Some coffee lovers find it too mild
9. Sumatra Decaf Organic Fair Trade Coffee
This coffee comes in the form of whole beans, which gives you the freedom to grind it depending on the desired brewing method.
As the beans are of Sumatran origin, this coffee is creamy and earthy.
It’s a medium roast, and you can expect a bold body. The coffee also gives out strong chocolate undertones.
These coffee beans are grown in Aceh in Sumatra at an approximate elevation of 1,200 to 1,500 meters. They have been wet-hulled and sun-dried.This makes the coffee moist for an extended period and minimizes acidity.
- Single-origin decaffeinated coffee
- USDA organic
- Completely chemical-free decaffeination method
- Some people find it too bitter
10. Trader’s Joe’s Decaf Coffee, Medium Roast Beans
Made by a trusted brand, this is another decaffeinated coffee that should be on your radar.
It’s 100% Arabica whole bean coffee, which will allow you to grind it based on the size that’s most appropriate for your needs.
Since it’s a medium-roast coffee, the beans are visibly oily.
- Delicious and inexpensive whole bean decaffeinated coffee
- Comes in a nitrogen-flushed can for optimal freshness
- No organic and eco-friendly certifications
Honorable Mention: Costa Rica Decaf Tarrazu Coffee by Volcanica
Volcanica Coffee’s Costa Rica Decaf Tarrazu deserves an honorable mention thanks to its subtle chocolate taste, lively brown sugar finish, and remarkable freshness. It’s Swiss Water-processed and Rainforest Alliance-certified. Its biggest downside, however, is its price.
If you like supporting family-owned coffee businesses that source their beans responsibly, this 100% chemical-free product should be high on your to-consider list.
How to Prepare the Best Decaf Coffee Beans?
The decaf coffee you choose has to be produced by a reputable roasting company that buys the highest-quality decaffeinated coffee beans available on the market.
It should be purchased in the form of whole beans and as fresh as possible.
Once you find your favorite brand of coffee, you should also:
- Store it appropriately – keep it in a dry and cool place and, more importantly, in an airtight container that will keep it fresh for longer and preserve its flavor.
- Grind it properly – invest in a high-quality grinder as it will greatly influence the final taste and texture of your decaf coffee. Always grind the decaf beans on fine or medium. Make sure you use your grinder ONLY for decaf coffee or otherwise you risk drinking the caffeine from the previously ground regular coffee.
- Brew it properly – You have reached the final and easiest step. Decide what type of coffee you are up to – an espresso, a latte, or perhaps a creamy cappuccino. Of course, use a high-quality coffee maker if possible, and follow the instructions and measurements to the letter (if the coffee comes out too weak or too strong, adjust them later on).
If you do everything right, the taste will be intense and rich!
Extra Info: Most decaf options on the market today are produced using Arabica beans as they have naturally low caffeine content.
Is Decaff Coffee Good or Bad for You?
Most people consider coffee to be their wake-up drink.
A cup of coffee provides them with the extra energy needed to get through the day.
However, not all of us are as lucky – some people suffer from headaches, shaking, or excessive sweating due to caffeine.
For them, decaf coffee provides an opportunity to enjoy the taste they have become accustomed to without suffering any dire consequences.
There are a few other benefits of drinking decaffeinated coffee:
- It’s rich in antioxidants
- It helps prevent the development of certain cancers, heart diseases, and type 2 diabetes
- It’s nutrient-rich and provides you with magnesium, potassium, and vitamin B3
I hope that I have succeeded in proving my point – you can find a decaf alternative with an equally rich and satisfying taste and aroma like its regular counterpart.
It’s not an impossible mission as some deem it!
If I had to choose only one brand and name it the best decaf coffee, I’d give my vote to the Cafe Don Pablo Colombian Decaf.
My heart always skips a bit when I take the first sip of this creamy delight.
It’s not only a perfect combination of quality beans and artisan roasting, but it’s also easy to come by, always fresh, and reasonably priced.
It’s neither medium nor dark – it appeals to all true coffee aficionados.
What could make it even better?
If someone would serve it to me right now! Do you agree? I’d really appreciate your opinion and comments!