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Coffee Varietals with Naturally Low Caffeine

Do you ever feel like you need a little caffeine break in the middle of the day? You're not alone. Many people rely on coffee to give them an energy boost. But what if you want a cup of coffee but don't want the caffeine?

Well there are actually some naturally low-caffeine coffee varietals! So, you can still enjoy all the flavor without feeling wired afterwards. Let’s find out more about them!

Coffee Varietals with Naturally Low Caffeine

Coffee Varietals with Naturally Low Caffeine

If you're looking for a coffee that has less caffeine, you don't have to sacrifice flavor. There are several coffee varietals that have naturally low levels of caffeine. This means that these varietals are low in caffeine without having to go through an industrial decaffeination process.

Decaffeinated coffee has been around for a long time. Although not completely deprived of caffeine, the stimulating substance is almost completely removed from the coffee. And despite advertising messages to the contrary, it is usually at the expense of the taste. 

During decaffeination, important aromatic substances are lost in the chemical process, depending on the method used. Here at Japanese Coffee Co. we use a process that keeps the flavors and aromas intact so you don’t have to compromise ever.

If, however, you are ready to try something new then coffee that is naturally low in caffeine might just be the thing for you!

Varietals that are Naturally Low In Caffeine

Coffee varietals that are naturally low in caffeine is not something rare; it's just that the lower-caffeine variants tend to produce much less coffee than varietals with higher levels of caffeine.

Such varietals are:

  • Coffea Lancifolia from Madagascar
  • Coffea Racemosa from South Africa and Zimbabwe
  • Arabica Laurina from Central America and Brazil
Coffee Fruit

What does the research tell us?

The Brazilian researchers examined more than 3,000 coffee plants of the species Coffea arabica - and finally found three shrubs that contained almost no caffeine. The scientists around Paulo Mazzafera from the University of Campinas analyzed the metabolism of the plants with radioactively labeled molecules and chromatography methods.

What they found is that the cause of the caffeine deficiency is probably a mutation of the responsible gene. The plants from Ethiopia apparently lack an enzyme that is necessary for the conversion of a chemical precursor to caffeine.

Since the new plants belong to the classic Coffea arabica species, they could easily be crossed with already known varieties. Because the world's most widespread type of coffee also includes varieties that are known for their good taste.

Given the low genetic diversity of Coffea arabica and the fact that even unusual and older varieties make good coffee, the scientists conclude that the low-caffeine plant should also make a tasty drink possible.

Genetically modified coffee plant yields low-caffeine beans

Researchers have developed a genetically modified coffee plant whose beans contain up to 70 percent less caffeine. This could replace the expensive industrial decaffeination, which also often affects the taste, the scientists report in the journal Nature.

Japanese Coffee Beans

Three enzymes are responsible for the biosynthesis of caffeine in the coffee plant Coffea canephora. In the genetically modified variant, the team led by Shinjiro Ogita from the Nara Institute of Science and Technology blocked a gene that encodes one of these enzymes. As a result, the plant lacks one of the biocatalysts for caffeine production, and coffee beans are produced with a greatly reduced content of the stimulating substance.

Shinjiro Ogita and his team at the Nara Institute of Science and Technology also want to apply the technique to Arabic coffee plants. The high-quality Arabic coffee accounts for about 70 percent of the world market.

The method also opens up the possibility of crossing existing plant species more quickly and thus shortening the breeding period. In addition, completely new types of coffee plants can be developed in this way.

So far, however, all attempts to breed low-caffeine coffee plants by naturally crossing different species have failed. The genetic barriers between the species turned out to be too high.

What are the differences between the types of coffee in terms of caffeine content?

Not only the caffeine content in the coffee of the two coffee tree species Arabica and Robusta differs significantly. The different Arabica varieties also have very different levels of caffeine. Arabica coffee has a caffeine content of 0.8% - 1.4%, Robusta beans have a caffeine content of 1.7% - 4% of the stimulating substance.

Black Strong Arabica Coffee

With a cup of coffee (150ml) made from Arabica beans, it absorb around 60 mg to 100mg of caffeine. People don't usually drink Robusta coffee pure. The particularly strong coffee bean is usually used in espresso blends to obtain strong coffee. In addition, the Robusta bean is particularly suitable for preparing an espresso due to its low oil content, which creates a thick, stable crema.

Naturally Low In Caffeine vs. Decaf

Decaf coffee is not caffeine free. It contains some caffeine because decaf coffee beans usually contain about 0.1% to 1.5% caffeine, depending on the bean variety used, the growing conditions, and the decaffeination process. This is about one-tenth to one half of 1% of the caffeine normally present in coffee beans before they are decaffeinated.

Decaf coffee can be a good choice for individuals who do not wish to consume caffeine in their diet because it provides many of the flavor elements and the bulk of a cup of coffee without caffeine.

And while it is widely accepted that drinking several cups of decaf coffee daily will provide some health benefits, research indicates that individuals who drink large amounts of caffeinated coffee may be at greater risk for heart disease. Decaf coffee also provides many essential nutrients including magnesium, potassium, riboflavin, niacin and vitamin E.

Because decaffeination is a chemical process that removes caffeine from the coffee bean, it strips the beans of many essential nutrients as well. In fact, about 97% of the flavor of a coffee bean is contained in the oils it contains.

Caffeine has no flavor and so, when a decaffeination process removes 97% of a bean's flavor, a cup of brewed coffee made from these beans will not taste nearly as rich or complex as a cup of regular coffee. Choosing coffee that is naturally low in caffeine can eliminate this problem.

There are however some decaffeination methods that do not strip coffee of its natural flavor and aroma, like the one we use at Japanese Coffee Co. This is exactly the reason why our Premium Decaf Blend is so popular.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking to cut back on caffeine, there are a few great coffee varietals with naturally low levels of the stimulant. I should however warn you that they are not as easy to find, so you might have to do some research first.

All in all, the most popular alternative to high caffeine drinks is decaf coffee. I actually wrote an article about the 10 Surprising Things about Decaf Coffee, so go check it out, you will definitely be surprised!

Related Articles You May Be Interested

Everything you need to know about Caffeine and Coffee

What Makes a Cup of Coffee Strong?

Everything you need to know about Decaf Coffee

How to Select Good Decaf Coffee from Bad Decaf Coffee? - Coffee Quiz

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Japanese Coffee Blog is a collection of articles related to the Japanese Coffee and Charcoal Roasted Sumiyaki coffee which is unique roasting only found in Japan. Coffee culture in Japan has evolved isolated from around the world and has much uniqueness not found in the rest of the world.

Authored by popular Japanese Tea Blogger Kei Nishida, he hopes to reveal the wonderful world of Japanese coffee from a different angle to educate and entertain people who love Japan, Japanese Tea, and now Japanese Coffee.

Author: Kei Nishida

Kei Nishida

Kei Nishida is a writer, a Japanese Green Tea and Coffee enthusiast, and the founder and CEO of Japanese Green Tea Company and Japanese Coffee Company.

His popular Japanese Green Tea and Health Blog has been the go-to place for anything related to Japanese tea.

He is an author of multiple books, and you can find his work in multiple publications and magazines.

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