Genuine Decaf Coffee Reviews by Coffee Industry Veterans
✔ We’re from a British coffee roastery called Decadent Decaf Coffee Company - our forte is roasting decaffeinated coffee and understand the intricacies of decaf coffee like no other.
✔ We've sourced a wide range of American decaffeinated coffees and put them through rigorous tests at our British coffee laboratory.
✔ We individually purchased all the decaffeinated coffees and didn't receive any free samples from the brands we opted for review.
✔ The Decadent Decaf team, comprised of Guy, Clara, Richard, and Greg, undertook the assessments. Together, they have an impressive 60 years of experience in the coffee industry including cupping, importing, and roasting.
Each decaf was sampled in a consistent manner as follows:
For AeroPress – 16g decaf coffee to 200ml filtered water
For V60 Filter – 15g decaf coffee to 250ml filtered water.
The Best & Worst Roast Decaffeinated Medium Roast Coffees Ranked In Order:
Onyx Coffee Lab – Best Third Wave Medium Roast Decaf
Onyx Coffee Lab, indie roasters from Arkansas, was probably the most interesting decaf we’ve cupped so far – Colombia Huila decaffeinated using the Sugarcane decaffeination process or Ethyl Acetate method as it’s called in the industry, which uses compounds made from cane sugar to decaffeinate the beans.
V60 Notes: We found this decaf bursting with flavour - sweet shop flavours, think lemon, grapefruit, sour apple - very light tea-like body – on the lighter side of medium roast – a thin mouthfeel. For those who are looking for their third wave indie coffee fix, this decaf would very much fit the bill.
Aeropress Notes: We expected a more intense citrus experienced, but actually found it less pronounced and instead much more body, but still incredibly sweet with some lime notes and pear sweetness. Very nice indeed.
Counter Culture – Best Medium Roast Decaf For V60 Filter
Counter Culture, a groundbreaking coffee roastery, did not disappoint with their premium Swiss Water Decaf, a brew to truly appreciate and leisurely sip rather than hastily drink and dash off.
V60 Notes: This might not be your first pick for a morning brew, but perhaps more fitting for an afternoon indulgence. Reminiscent of Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee, Counter Culture's decaf showcases fragrant notes of fresh fruits like watermelon, complemented by hints of honey, transitioning to a raisin undertone, especially as the filtered coffee begins to cool. To elevate its intensity, consider using a bit more decaf.
AeroPress Notes: Quite unexpected for an AeroPress extraction, the brew is gentle and reminds one of tea, bursting with citrusy nuances. However, it feels a tad thin in body, lacking fullness in mouthfeel and overall roundness. Our impression is that this decaf resonates better with the V60 method.
Blue Bottle - Best All-Rounder Swiss Water Decaf coffee
Given Blue Bottle’s reputation, we expected good things and weren’t disappointed. We found that Blue Bottle’s Swiss Water Decaf was more versatile and could be used for both V60 and AeroPress depending on one’s preference during the day.
V60 Notes: As a filter, it brings out much more flavour than the AeroPress with surprising vanilla notes, juicy acidity and very little bitterness, which contrast to the very light aroma that does not hint at the surprising full flavour brew within.
AeroPress Notes: This brew is more mainstream and accessible than the V60, with a classic smooth profile, which makes for very easy drinking but with a long-lasting pleasant acidity at the end, little bitterness and syrupy and smoky molasses to finish.
Lifeboost Decaf Coffee – Best Medium Roast Decaf for AeroPress
The roast appeared deeper than anticipated for a medium decaf roast (taking into account that decaf tends to appear darker), yet Lifeboost Swiss Water Decaf coffee excelled in adaptability for both V60 filter and AeroPress, along with its taste characteristics:
V60 Notes: Subtle taste profiles with minimal bitterness; hints of amaretto cherry and raisin complemented by a smooth underlying sweetness and extended palate sensation. For a richer experience, consider increasing the amount used in brewing.
Aeropress Notes: With the AeroPress, there's a pronounced emphasis on mellow fruit and berry sweetness paired with hints of caramel. It's exceptionally smooth with no bitter taste, displaying some boldness and prolonged palate sensation. It might not cater to those seeking a robust dark roast, but it's an excellent decaf option!
Kauia Hawaii Decaf – Best Kona Medium Roast Decaf
OK, so there aren’t many decaf Hawaiian’s out there, but fortunately this decaf from Kauia, Hawaii pleasantly surprised us. Why surprised us? This decaf posed a mystery. It said it only had 10% Hawaiian and did not elaborate what the rest of the blend consisted of, nor the decaffeination process on the package, but we are fairly sure that it’s Swiss Water Decaf from researching on the internet.
V60 Notes: Pleasant sweet aroma, some classic Kona notes – that sort of winey, dark cherry fruit notes typical of Kona – remarkable given the coffee has very little Kona in it! Light body, with emphasise on higher acidity and sweetness, but more balanced than the Onyx decaf. This was one of our favourites of the cupping and we would recommend Kauai Hawaii as a good decaf daily all-rounder.
AeroPress Notes: A heavier brew, more in keeping with Kona coffee than the V60 method, and much more intensity with it – tasted like a darker roast and versatile enough for it to be drunk with milk. We tasted almonds, blackberry and milk chocolate tones, a longer mouthfeel and a more well-developed rounded flavour using the AeroPress method.
Eight O’Clock Coffee – Best Budget Medium Roast
No offense to Eight O’Clock Coffee, but we had low expectations when it came to this decaf. Why? We’ve never heard of Eight O’Clock Coffee, the packaging was dated and we kind of expected a cheap tasting decaf. Boy, were we wrong! It’s not half bad! We can’t find out what decaf process it is anywhere, so we’re presuming it’s decaffeinated using the cheap Methylene Chloride decaffeination method.
V60 Notes: This is not a terribly complicated decaf, but what it does, it does well. Really smooth, the kind of light acidity you get from a medium roast on the darker side, blackcurrant and caramel notes, very drinkable, everyday office coffee to be proud of, but not groundbreaking. Your much better than average decaf cup of Joe!
AeroPress Notes: In our opinion this decaf works better using an AeroPress – all the flavours synch together like a decaf symphony of smoothness – with more pronounced nuts and maple syrup notes and that ever present smoothness. If you’re looking for a consistently smooth classic decaf, maybe this is it?
Allegro Espresso Bel Canto – Commended For Fairtrade & Organic Certification
Fairtrade and Organic certified, Allegro’s Espresso Bel Canto decaf stands slightly lighter than its counterpart, the French Roast. It adapts well to an array of milk-infused beverages – be it flat whites, lattes, or cappuccinos. Whilst labeled as a medium roast on the packaging, our sample seemed to lean towards a much darker roast.
V60 Notes: We perceive it as a go-to daily choice for robust coffee that holds its ground even in milk-dominant drinks – offering a wine-like quality coupled with notes of dried fruits and a touch of nuts. Its bitterness and acidity are low, leaving behind a pleasant raisin nuance in the aftertaste.
AeroPress Notes: This is a solid pick for aficionados of potent dark roasts and those preferring coffees with subdued acidity. It boasts rich dark chocolate undertones, toasted grain hints, and a cerealy richness. The decaf works wonderfully in milk-infused brews and maintains a low bitterness profile.
And Um… The “Less Good” Medium Roast Decaf Coffees Ranked:
We bought a wide a range of Dark Roast Decafs and tried to have no preconceptions about the decafs we were cupping, however…Well…here’s our reviews of these decafs:
Amazon Fresh Decaf – Best For Mediocre Decaf
We couldn’t find out what decaf process this, neither on the packaging or online, so again we presume that it’s the cheapest method of Methylene Chloride, but we can’t be sure. On the plus side, it’s very cheap, so ideal for those on an extreme budget or without taste buds. It states that it is “medium roast”, but this is categorically incorrect – the bag we purchased was very dark indeed.
V60 Notes: Very dark roast – not quite as charred as the San Francisco, but getting there. There’s a hay or grassy taste, burnt, and with a long bitter aftertaste, though it undoubtedly displays some salted caramel sweetness. The V60 is, however, definitely better than the AeroPress.
AeroPress Notes: The AeroPress method really accentuates the burnt charred acrid taste and would need a bucket load of milk to rescue, so really only suitable for milky drinks. We regret to say that it’s hard to be very positive about this bitter brew. It’s most certainly not Italian style and you don’t feel like you’re sitting out at St Mark’s Square in Venice taking in the view. It’s also neither round nor smooth – just a bit dead on arrival.