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Do you still get the health benefits of coffee if you switch to decaf

If you enter the word “decaf” in the Instagram search bar, one of the first and most successful hashtags is displayed: #deathbeforedecaf (as if to say: I'd rather die than drink decaffeinated coffee) with over 146,000 posts.  
If you look at the articles, you will see many 'but first coffee' stickers, mugs and t-shirts, memes, inspiring caffeine & motivational quotes and of course endless selfies with coffee cups, coffee grinders and fancy coffee machines. 

decaf coffee

For someone who hasn’t done their research this leads to one conclusion: if you love coffee, you have to hate decaffeinated coffee.
Is this view correct?
The answer is: no!
But why are so many people prejudiced against decaffeinated coffee?
This is exactly the subject I want to deal with in this article and see what advantages there are and whether decaffeinated coffee can be healthy and tasty after all.
But first let’s talk about the effects of caffeine in our body!

The effects of caffeine in our body

Most of us start our day with a cup of coffee and that has a lot to do with our desire for caffeine. Caffeine is the most popular stimulant in the world, it blocks adenosine receptors in the brain, which means that our alertness is increased. It’s also responsible for enhancing attention and reducing tiredness.

Some evidence also suggests that consuming caffeine may protect us from dementia!

But it is recommended to watch our daily intake of caffeine as each individual has different needs.

decaf coffee

The recommended daily intake of caffeine is 400 mg for adults, which corresponds to 3-4 cups of coffee per day. If you feel in any way anxious, worried or if you have an increased heart rate and can’t sleep, then you might want to consider lowering your daily caffeine intake.

The right dose can help us take advantage of the caffeine properties but what about decaffeinated coffee? Does it have any health benefits?

And is the decaffeination process safe? Let’s find out!

How was decaffeination invented?

Decaffeination dates back to 1903. At that time, the Bremen coffee dealer Ludwig Roselius attributed his father's death to excessive coffee consumption, among other things.

That is why he developed a process in which the whole bean is first soaked in salt water and then the caffeine is extracted - then with the help of benzene. This method is also called the Roselius method. Today, however, it is no longer used because benzene is considered carcinogenic.

Instead, we now have the equipment and methods to decaffeinate coffee in a natural way that also contributes to our health.

Decaf Myths Busted

Let’s address some of the most common decaf myths:

Decaf coffee is only for older people

According to a 2017 US study, it is actually Generation Z (18-24) and millennials (25-39) who drink the most decaf.

black coffee bean

But if there are actually a lot of old people who prefer decaffeinated coffee, there can be very good reasons:

  • Many elderly people have to take medication. Some of them are strengthened by caffeine (e.g. some pain relievers, thyroid medication, stimulants, etc.), while others are weakened or even poorly absorbed (e.g. iron supplements or vitamins).
  • Studies have shown that older people suffer more from the effects of caffeine on sleep than young adults

Decaf is only for pregnant and breastfeeding women

Actually, decaffeinated coffee is really something for everyone. However, it is recommended for pregnant women, those who want to become pregnant, and breastfeeding women actually prefer decaf to caffeinated coffee. After all, scientists still do not agree on whether and how much coffee is safe for these women.

Coffee doesn't taste good without caffeine

Back in the 1970s, decaf coffee got a reputation for being bitter and watery and simply not tasting good.

On the one hand, this was due to the decaffeination process used at the time. On the other hand, the bad reputation of the decaf ensured that producers wanted to spend as little money as possible on production and, for example, used old beans for production.

So it was kind of a vicious circle. People had a bad opinion of decaffeinated coffee, so the producers kept producing inferior products until decaffeinated coffee was really poor quality and didn't taste good at all.

But this is no longer the case today! New decaffeination processes and high quality coffee beans now ensure that decaf tastes as good as caffeinated coffee.  Some nutritionists have even conducted blind tastings, where the test subjects could not distinguish between decaffeinated and caffeinated coffee.

Decaffeinated coffee is toxic, unhealthy, and full of chemicals

It’s a fact that there are different decaffeination processes. In fact, not all of them are safe; especially those who work with chemicals like dichloromethane and could be carcinogenic.

But all decaf coffees that are decaffeinated using the Supercritical Carbon dioxide method, the Swiss Water Process or our very own decaf coffee using the Liquid Dicarboxylic Acid Caffeine Extraction method are neither toxic nor full of chemicals.

If you want to learn more about the different decaffeination processes then this article is for you. We chose the Liquid Dicarboxylic Acid Caffeine Extraction method because it is the only method that encapsulates the taste and aroma of the original coffee.

Is decaf coffee healthy then?

If we look at the current health studies, we can actually say: yes, decaffeinated coffee is healthy.

For one thing, it is definitely not harmful to health. On the other hand, scientists have found many positive effects of coffee on health in recent years.

A 2017 clinical study shows that decaffeinated coffee can reduce the risk of developing the following cancers:

  • Prostate cancer
  • Skin cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Endometrial cancer
  • Oral cancer

decaf coffee

The same clinical study found an association between consumption of decaffeinated coffee and a reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.

Plus, decaffeinated coffee is more tolerable for people who suffer from stress, especially for people who are sensitive to caffeine, consuming caffeine can overload the central nervous system.

Caffeine ensures that more stress hormones are formed in the body. Therefore, it is advisable for people who are stressed and tense to switch to decaffeinated drinks.

Coffee without caffeine is better for people with a sensitive stomach or stomach diseases (such as irritable stomach, gastric mucosal inflammation, etc.) because not only the acid in coffee is a factor, the caffeine in regular coffee also ensures that the stomach produces more acid, which can also be a trigger.

Final Thoughts

Now you've learned a lot about decaffeinated coffee and whether it's healthy, and hopefully we've cleared up some of the prejudices for you.

More and more young people are turning to decaf, especially if it comes from very high quality coffee beans, it is properly decaffeinated and gently roasted.

And it does not only taste good, you still get all the health benefits of coffee!

Buy Premium Decaf Coffee


This post was first published in 2021 but it was updated in 2022 just for you. 

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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.

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