Have you ever paused to consider exactly how much caffeine is in your morning cup of coffee? If you're like most people, the answer is probably no—until you feel jittery, distracted, or unable to fall asleep hours later.


That's the tricky thing about coffee. It tastes incredible (to the point where mornings don't feel complete without a cup), but some of the effects of caffeine, and the resulting dreaded caffeine withdrawal, are less than ideal. For many people, caffeine can even be dangerous to their overall health.


Before you pour your second (or third) cup of the day, you should take a moment to consider what you're putting into your body and whether there's a healthier alternative.


Why You Should Care About How Much Caffeine You Drink


Coffee has an illustrious history dating back to 15th century Ethiopia—a country that still provides us with many of the world's most celebrated coffee beans. While historians can't agree on exactly why humans started drinking coffee, legend has it that a herder noticed his goats were acting energised after eating some berries (that we would later know to belong to the Coffea plant). The rest, as they say, is history.


Although we don't know why people started drinking coffee, we do know that after water, it's the most widely consumed drink in the world. However, despite its rich, mysterious history, more recent research on the world's most popular stimulant suggests that it may have several adverse effects.


Caffeine can cause insomnia, nervousness, restlessness, anxiety, nausea, headaches, and heart pain. People particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of coffee include children, pregnant women, those with anxiety or bipolar disorders, and those with conditions such as epilepsy, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, and high blood pressure.


Suppose you have no pre-existing conditions and drink a conservative amount of coffee daily. In that case, you probably have nothing to worry about—although there are proven benefits to living a holistic, healthy lifestyle free from stimulants.


If you've gotten into the habit of drinking coffee regularly more for the rich flavour than for its energising effects, why not try replacing your daily cup (or cups) with decaf coffee?


Measuring the Caffeine Content of Coffee


Getting to the bottom of exactly how much caffeine is in a cup of coffee is complicated because there are various coffee beans, and everyone drinks their coffee differently. For example, if you're a fan of an after-dinner Affogato once a week, your caffeine intake will be very different from someone who drinks multiple Espressos every morning.


The average cup of coffee generally has around 95mg of caffeine, but this can shoot up to 500mg in a stronger cup. Conversely, a cup of decaf coffee has very little to no caffeine.


Here are some of the factors that influence how much caffeine is in a cup of coffee:


  • The coffee beans: The four most popular types of coffee beans (Arabica, Robusta, Excelsa, and Liberica) each have very different taste profiles—and varying amounts of caffeine. The lowest caffeine content is found in Excelsa, with 1g of caffeine per 100g of beans, while the highest is Robusta, with 2.26g per 100g of beans.
  • The roast: The roast doesn't only dictate the flavour and colour of your coffee. It also affects the amount of caffeine it contains. Lighter roasts tend to have a higher amount of caffeine than darker roasts, even though darker roasts have a richer flavour profile.
  • The coffee type: The caffeine content can differ wildly based on whether you're drinking an Espresso, instant coffee, a coffee milkshake, or brewed coffee.
  • The cup: While the standard cup measurement is 250ml, anyone who's ever had an Espresso or large takeaway iced coffee knows that the measurement "one cup of coffee" is entirely up to the drinker's discretion.


Coffee vs. Decaffeinated Coffee


Back in the day, coffee connoisseurs would snub their noses at decaffeinated coffee. But, over the past few years, a slow and steady 'conscious movement' has begun to arise—one that champions exercise, self-care, mindfulness, and sustainability.


As our outlook on the world has evolved, so too have our tastes. Calorie counts have been introduced onto menus to help consumers become more thoughtful of what they're putting into their bodies, plant-based alternatives have given people a planet-friendly alternative to factory-farmed meat, no-alcohol adult beverages are easier to find than ever, and decaffeinated coffee is once again in the spotlight. Even among those who drink caffeinated coffee, 62% believe that limiting their intake is essential.


Decaffeinated coffee beans start their life much like regular coffee, but the beans undergo a decaffeination process. At Swiss Water, this process is wholly natural and free from chemicals—in fact, the star of the show during the Swiss Water Decaf Process is water, which removes 99.9% of the caffeine (resulting in a 12oz cup with 2mg of caffeine) without having any effect on the flavour.


Some of the benefits of decaf coffee include:


  • Reduced risk of rectal, colon, and breast cancer
  • Reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes
  • Decreased levels of anxiety
  • Higher quality sleep
  • Decaf coffee contains the same antioxidants as caffeinated coffee
  • The lower acidity of decaf coffee can reduce heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)


Should You Make the Switch to Decaf Coffee?


Like CrossFit, pineapple on pizza, and early-2000s trends coming back into style, there are staunch supporters and detractors on both sides of the spectrum regarding decaffeinated coffee. But ultimately, the choice of what to put into your body rests solely with you.


If you're pregnant or living with a condition that may be exacerbated by caffeine, there's no reason why you shouldn't try decaf coffee—and you're likely to see a rapid, marked improvement in your sleep, mental health, and physical health (that is, once you get over the caffeine withdrawal). On the other hand, if you don't have any health concerns but are simply curious about how good you might feel, there's no better time to try than now.


Think about it this way: Ten years ago, alcohol-free beverages were almost unheard of, and those who didn't want to drink alcohol were relegated to drinking water, juice, or soda. Today, major beer brands including Amstel, Heineken, Leffe, Corona, and Erdinger all offer alcohol-free options. In addition, countless other brands provide alcohol-free alternatives to spirits, and some aren't even trying to replicate the taste of alcohol, instead revolutionising the entire industry.


Much like the decaf coffee movement, the sober-curious movement was driven by people who wanted to celebrate their physical and mental health by leading a more holistic lifestyle. Of course, if you make the switch to decaf, it doesn't necessarily mean you can never drink caffeinated coffee again—but we're pretty confident that once you make the change, you'll see no reason to go back.


Craving coffee but not keen on caffeine? Try one of our seven freshly-roasted small-batch decafs, direct from our little roastery a mile from the sea in West Sussex. Our Swiss Water Decaf Process removes 99.9% of the caffeine, without compromising on the distinctive origin and flavour characteristics of the bean.

July 28, 2022 — Guy Wilmot

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