Science-Backed Facts About Decaffeinated Coffee

Science-Backed Facts About Decaffeinated Coffee

You don't have very far to look if you want to expand your knowledge on the facts about decaffeinated coffee. 

There’s a wealth of information available online, including scientific studies and peer reviews from others in the coffee industry. 

But, some information you'll find may not be the whole truth. In fact, some of it can be patently false.

but you can read this article here to give you a fine knowledge of how much caffeine is too much.

With that in mind, we've compiled a list of science-based facts about decaffeinated coffee for you, complete with sources for your perusal. 

The facts below are aimed to address some of the most asked questions about decaf coffee on the web.

Fact #1: Decaf Coffee Is Safe to Drink

Regardless of the method used to decaffeinate coffee beans, decaf coffee is perfectly safe to drink.

There are many concerns in the online world that coffee which is decaffeinated using chemical methods isn't as safe as natural methods. 

This belief stems from the fact that not all of the chemicals used in the processes are removed before roasting.

decaf coffee facts

Exposure to methylene chloride, for example, can cause some rather uncomfortable side effects like headaches, tiredness, or feeling irritable. 

These effects can happen even if exposure is minimal. The FDA, however, has cleared the usage of methylene chloride for decaffeinating coffee, so long as the levels don't exceed ten parts per million.

facts about decaffeinated coffee


The reason is these chemicals are not likely to reach the final product. Specifically, the KVW decaffeination method, which uses methylene chloride, leaves less than five parts per million in coffee beans. 

Since it is one of the most economical methods of caffeine removal and leaves most of the flavour intact, it’s very popular in the coffee industry.

Indeed, if some residues remain with the unroasted coffee beans, the roasting process is sure to destroy any leftover chemicals. 

The temperature needed to roast decaf coffee beans is over 425ºF, and the evaporation point of methylene chloride is around 170ºF. 

For this reason, it's improbable to find any chemicals in the coffee beans after this point.

Still, if someone wants to stay away from chemical processes, both the Swiss Water Process and Carbon Dioxide Process are natural forms of decaffeination. 

The former removes 99.9% of the caffeine, but takes some of the flavour with it. 

While the latter maintains most of the flavours, removing 97%. Unfortunately, the Carbon Dioxide Process is also the most expensive.

Decaf Coffee Is Beneficial to Our Health (2nd facts about decaffeinated coffee)

In addition to the safety of decaf coffee, it's also beneficial to your health. Many studies are available that back the claims that decaffeinated coffee can be a healthy addition to your diet.

Even though there are different types of speciality coffee, there are those that particular fancy decaf coffee.

And this is enough reason to dig into the facts about decaf to arm you with all the right knowledge.

Decaffeinated Coffee Facts


This study on mortality, for example, takes a look at death rates related to several illnesses.

Both regular and decaffeinated coffee positively affect the outcome of these diseases, as death rates seem to decline for those who drink about three cups a day.

If you search for the health benefits of decaf coffee, you'll also find studies specifically related to these areas:

  • Decaf coffee lowers incidents of certain cancers, including colorectal cancer
  • Decaffeinated coffee lowers the risk of stroke in adults
  • Decaf coffee and its effects on depression, anxiety and mental health
  • The effects of decaf coffee on sleep patterns

There are also studies on how decaffeinated coffee affects cholesterol. However, these observations remain inconclusive for now. Some research suggests decaf can raise LDL cholesterol.

In contrast, other studies show
no significant change in LDL when switching from regular to decaf. Thus, it's hard to say whether the decaffeination process specifically is to blame.

Decaf Coffee Is Less Acidic (3rd Facts About Decaffeinated Coffee)

Often, people who are exploring the world of decaffeinated coffee are doing so because of how their body feels when they drink regular coffee. The biggest culprits people suspect are caffeine and acidity.

decaf coffee acidity

Thankfully, the processes used to decaffeinate coffee reduce the amount of phenolic acid in coffee beans. For people who are sensitive to the acidity of coffee, this means less heartburn.

However, it’s important to note that both caffeine and acid play a role in acid reflux. Caffeine has a way of causing the muscles at both ends of the oesophagus to relax.

When this happens, acid from the stomach can more freely flow upward. So, it’s easy to imagine what might happen if you’ve just consumed a cup of regular coffee with high acidity.

Decaf Is Not a Synonym For “Caffeine-Free” (4th Facts About Decaffeinated Coffee)

Some coffee drinkers will tell you that decaf is just another way of saying “caffeine-free,” but this isn’t true.

Decaffeination methods remove
most of the caffeine from coffee, but not all of it. A typical cup of decaf coffee has 97 percent less caffeine than regular java

As mentioned previously, some decaffeination methods, like Swiss Water Process, can even remove more than 99 percent of the caffeine content. 

This is the rule of thumb for all decaf coffee drinks, including espresso. If a regular shot of espresso contains around 68 milligrams of caffeine, a decaf shot could still pack in up to 10 milligrams. 

Because of the residual caffeine content – no matter how negligible it may be – decaf coffee can’t be considered “caffeine-free.” With caffeine-free drinks or sodas, the manufacturer has used ingredients that naturally don’t contain caffeine.

There was no special process to remove the caffeine from true caffeine-free beverages, so there are no trace amounts of caffeine to worry about. 

While a few milligrams in decaf coffee might not be enough to give you a caffeinated kick, they can still be a concern for those with caffeine sensitivities or allergies. Minuscule amounts can also add up if you’re drinking a ton of decaf coffee each day.

Drinking five or more cups of decaf in one sitting could give you an unwanted jumpstart. 

So, as tempting as it may be to call decaf “caffeine-free,” it could cause some confusion since true caffeine-free coffee doesn’t exist. 

Fact #5: Decaf Coffee Can Have a Milder Flavor, but It Doesn’t Have To

When switching from caffeinated to decaffeinated coffee, some people will complain about a lack of flavour or a different taste. While flavour can depend on the coffee beans and the decaffeination process you’re working with, there is some truth to these claims. 

During the decaffeination process, it isn't just caffeine that's removed; some of the chemicals responsible for bean flavour can go missing too.

One study found some significant differences in the aromatic compounds, or pyrazines, in decaf versus regular coffee. So, when people describe decaf as milder or less flavourful, they’re not imagining things. 

Not to mention, decaf beans go through multiple processing stages before roasting. So, it’s possible to end up with a more fragile and brittle bean that's more difficult to grind evenly. The end result?

A more bitter or sour cup of coffee. 

However, this doesn’t mean decaf coffee will always taste more bitter than regular coffee. Depending on the skill with which it's roasted, a lot of decaf coffee doesn’t taste noticeably different from its caffeinated counterpart. 

Much like the taste of regular coffee can vary from bean to bean, the same can be said for decaf coffee. Grinding, decaffeination method and the type of coffee bean will all play a part in the flavour of your decaf.

Using high-quality coffee beans is one way to avoid dealing with bitter or mild-tasting decaf. 

Plus, milder coffee doesn’t have to be a bad thing. If you’ve got a stomach that’s sensitive to bold coffee, switching to a mild decaf could make a huge difference. 


In conclusion, FDA regulations and procedures ensure that chemical residue is not an issue when making decaf coffee. On top of that, decaf has several of the same health benefits as regular coffee without the adverse side effects of caffeine.

The fact remains that decaf coffee is a safe and healthy drink to add to your diet.

Check out Decaf Coffee: Methods to the Madness for additional information.