There’s nothing quite like pouring a delicious cup of your favourite blend of coffee at any time of day. Espresso is enjoyed around the clock in Italy, where it has become a seamless part of the culture. In addition to being flavourful and aromatic, it can provide a caffeine boost when you need it most.
But what if you want the taste without the added jitters? Sure, you might have heard of decaf coffee, but is it safe to drink? How do you remove the caffeine, and what are experts saying? Read on for a full examination of what you need to know.
What is Decaf Coffee?
Decaffeinated coffee starts out with the same green beans as regular coffee. Before roasting, the beans undergo a unique process to remove up to 97% of their caffeine molecules. This creates a milder tasting cup and can slightly alter the rich, dark colour.
Although decaf is considered to be “caffeine-free,” the process isn’t 100% effective at removing all of the caffeine. In most cases, decaf coffee will still contain up to seven milligrams of caffeine compared to regular coffee – barely enough for you to feel any effects. For many, decaf is the preferred choice of coffee because it eliminates afternoon caffeine crashes or the desire for sugar, all while still providing the flavour that they love.
How is Coffee Decaffeinated?
There are multiple ways to decaffeinate coffee beans. Most methods include soaking them in hot water to remove the caffeine, but the process also removes the natural sugars and flavours the beans are known for. As a result, once the caffeine has been removed, the beans are reintroduced to the water so they can regain the qualities that give them a distinct taste.
One method is to wash them in an organic solvent until they’re stripped of the caffeine. The coffee beans are left to soak in hot water for several hours, which removes the caffeine. The water is drained, and the beans are treated with a solvent that will effectively remove much of the remaining caffeine and will dissolve as the mixture is heated again. The beans are then soaked in the water from the initial boil to restore the flavours and natural sugars.
The Swiss Water Process
The Swiss Water Process is a chemical-free approach that involves separating the coffee beans from the caffeine with a filtration system. Placed in an extremely hot water bath, the unroasted beans soak for several hours before the water is removed and filtered through charcoal, which catches the caffeine molecules. The water is then used to re-soak the beans.
Liquid Carbon Dioxide
A more recent approach is the use of liquid carbon dioxide. Green coffee beans are soaked in a stainless steel tank of highly compressed CO2, which extracts the caffeine, and it is then removed from the CO2 through carbon filters. The carbon dioxide is then removed from the beans and allowed to return to its gaseous state.
For decaf coffee lovers, all the nutrients present in regular coffee are available in their favourite drink thanks to tireless safe and regulated methods. These ensure the same level of quality that regular coffee drinkers are used to.
Is Decaf Coffee Good for You?
There is plenty of evidence to show coffee is good for your health when drunk in moderation. It is a source of nutrients including riboflavin, vitamin B5, magnesium, niacin, potassium and manganese, which are important for everyday health. It is also packed with antioxidants, which neutralize the free radicals in our bodies that are linked to heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Similar amounts of these antioxidants are in decaffeinated coffee, so if you’re still worried about caffeine, you can still reap the benefits of this antioxidant-filled beverage.
It is worth noting those who experience heartburn or acid reflux from regular coffee will not experience any of these symptoms when drinking decaf coffee. Also, those who are caffeine sensitive and experience uncomfortable stimulant effects from drinking regular coffee will not feel the same effects if they opt to remove the caffeine from their cup.
What Have Studies Shown?
Coffee has been linked to several health benefits, far beyond merely boosting energy levels. It may be linked to lowering the risk of Type 2 diabetes, for instance, could protect against certain liver conditions, and can support overall heart health. So far, the studies also suggest that decaffeinated coffee offers protection against long-term deterioration, and research is still ongoing.
In addition, various studies have been performed to test the risks of drinking coffee and have found no connection between it and an increased risk of cancer or other diseases. This is good news for many coffee drinkers who might worry about the effects the drink can have on their health.
Which Cup of Decaf Should You Choose?
Although it has been controversial in the past when it comes to recommendations from health experts, it is believed a cup of coffee a day can be good for your overall health and well-being. Regular coffee containing caffeine allows for improved alertness, reaction time, and increased mental functionality. It can also help with physical performance. Several studies have shown that caffeine improves weight-loss efforts by increasing the desire for physical activity as well as slightly suppressing appetite. But coffee is best drunk in moderation, as too much caffeine can cause anxiety, restlessness, and trouble sleeping. Pregnant and breastfeeding women may also need to limit their caffeine intake for health-related reasons, depending on their doctor’s instructions.
As a result, decaf can be a great alternative to coffee for those who are sensitive to the effects of caffeine. Many of the same health and nutritional benefits can still be derived from the drink, and it presents a milder flavour, perfect for those who are looking to switch to black coffee. Ultimately, decaf coffee is safe and a popular option for those who love coffee but not caffeine..