How much caffeine is in decaffeinated coffee?

In decaffeinated coffee, caffeine content typically ranges between 2mg and 15mg. The precise amount is contingent upon the decaffeination method employed, the way it's brewed, the type of coffee, and its roasting degree.

When juxtaposed with regular caffeinated coffee, which boasts 120mg to 180mg of caffeine, the caffeine quantity in decaffeinated coffee appears trifling.

In reality, the primary determinant of caffeine content is the decaffeination method used.

The main decaffeination methods are:

  1. Methylene Chloride Decaf Coffee Technique
  2. CO2 "Sparkling Water" Decaf Coffee Technique
  3. Swiss Water Decaf Coffee Technique

Ranked from the least to the most caffeine:

The Swiss Water Decaf Method is recognised as being 99.9% caffeine-free, utilising only water and no chemicals to decaffeinate the beans.

The exact caffeine content of the CO2 Decaf Method remains unclear. Often dubbed the "sparkling water" technique, it employs CO2 to extract caffeine from raw coffee beans, eschewing chemical solvents. Unfortunately, definitive caffeine levels for the CO2 method remain elusive.

The Methylene Chloride Decaf Method achieves a 96-97% caffeine-free status, utilising a chemical solvent named Methylene Chloride to extract caffeine.

Predominantly, the Methylene Chloride method is the global favourite for decaffeination. If coffee packaging omits its decaffeination technique, it's generally safe to infer that Methylene Chloride was the chosen method.

But how much caffeine truly resides in decaffeinated coffee?

There has been media buzz surrounding decaf coffee, mainly because it still retains some caffeine. This revelation spurred several hyperbolic news outlets to dramatise the "revelation" that decaffeinated coffee isn't wholly devoid of caffeine.

One such website proclaimed:

"Even the most devout coffee aficionado might be oblivious to the fact that decaffeinated coffee isn't entirely caffeine-free. Shockingly, decaf coffee has caffeine!"

Such articles are hardly groundbreaking and they magnify the minimal caffeine content in decaffeinated coffee.

The Decadent Decaf Coffee Company specialises in roasting Swiss Water Decaf Coffee.

So, what's the caffeine content of Swiss Water Decaf Process beans?

Let’s delve deeper. Beans decaffeinated via the eco-friendly Swiss Water Process are guaranteed to be 99.9% caffeine-free. In fact, the Swiss Water Decaf Company provides a Certificate of Analysis (COA) for every batch of beans processed using its chemical-free water decaffeination technique, attesting to its 99.9% caffeine-free promise.

Comparatively, a standard 12oz cup of caffeinated coffee houses between 120 mg to 180 mg of caffeine. In contrast, a decaffeinated variant of the same volume contains a maximum of 2mg of caffeine with the Swiss Water Decaf method. This amount is almost inconsequential.

In sum, the caffeine content in a cup of single origin speciality Swiss Water Decaf is virtually nil.

Updated: October 2023

IMPORTANT: This information is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your doctor or healthcare professionals. Nothing in the content or products should be considered, or used as a substitute for, medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always talk to your health care provider for diagnosis and treatment, including your specific medical needs.

September 17, 2019 — Guy Wilmot

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