Authentic Tried & Tested Reviews by Decaf Coffee Experts
✔ We’re from a British coffee roastery called Decadent Decaf Coffee Company, we only roast decaffeinated coffee and know decaf coffee inside out.
✔ We imported a wide range of American decaffeinated coffees and tried and tested them at our coffee lab in England.
✔ We purchased all decaffeinated coffees ourselves and did not receive any free-of-charge samples from the coffee brands selected for evaluation.
✔ All decafs were evaluated by the Decadent Decaf team including Guy, Clara, Richard and Greg who together have 60 years of coffee industry experience including cupping, importing and roasting.
All the decafs were cupped in the same way:
For AeroPress – 16g decaf coffee to 200ml filtered water
For V60 Filter – 15g decaf coffee to 250ml filtered water
The Best & Worst Swiss Water Decaf Coffees Ranked In Order:
Lifeboost Coffee – Best Swiss Water Decaf for AeroPress
The roast level was darker than we were expecting for a medium roast decaf (even accounting for the fact that decaffeinated coffee always looks darker), but Lifeboost Swiss Water Decaf coffee ranked highest for its versatility for both V60 filter and AeroPress, as well as its flavour notes:
V60 Notes: Delicate flavour notes and almost no bitterness, amaretto cherry and raisin notes and underlying velvety sweetness with a long mouthfeel. For more intense flavours, we would recommend adding a few more grams to the brew dose.
Aeropress Notes: The AeroPress really accentuates the soft fruit and berry sweetness and caramel tones, very smooth, not bitter and some boldness and long-lasting mouthfeel, though not a “strong” coffee for the darker roast aficionados. A top decaf!
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.
Counter Culture – Best Swiss Water Decaf For V60 Filter
Counter Culture, another famed roastery, delivered the goods with this quality Swiss Water Decaf, which is a coffee to savour and sip rather than gulp down in a hurry.
V60 Notes: Perhaps not a morning coffee, probably better suited for Afternoon Tea, Counter Culture’s decaf is a coffee to savour and had a similar profile to Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee – delicate aromatic fresh fruit flavours, think watermelon and honey, but with a raisin finish, particularly as you let the filter coffee cool down. For more intense flavours, simply add a few more grams of decaf.
Aeropress Notes: Surprisingly delicate for an Aeropress brew, tea-like, lots of citrus notes, but very weak body, little mouthfeel and just not very rounded. We think this decaf suits V60 better.
Kicking Horse – Best Strong Dark Roast Swiss Water Decaf
A dark horse indeed, Kicking Horse is an undoubtedly strong decaf, but also a quality dark roast at that and more rounded and interesting than many other decaf dark roasts on the market (see our worst decafs at the bottom of this list!).
V60 Notes: Smoky, malty and strong - ideal for lattes - with some fruity notes at the end, but pretty one-dimensional – for those who like their coffee strong and dark – with some bitter and astringent notes.
AeroPress Notes: Better suited for AeroPress than V60, it was still strong and malty, but with a surprising lack of bitterness, notes of tobacco and dark chocolate and a lingering prune sweetness. Might convert even medium roast coffee fans to dark roast decaf.
Allegro French Roast – Best Low Acid Dark Roast Swiss Water Decaf Coffee
Allegro Coffee is a veteran in coffee, founded in 1977, it delivers a reliable, strong everyday decaf coffee that’s also Fairtrade and Organic. We found this decaf does the job very well for those looking for a low acidity decaf.
V60 Notes: We were surprised by this decaf – given the roast level – less bitterness and astringency than we expected – very low acidity – but still some both natural and caramelized sweetness.
AeroPress Notes: Definitely darker and stronger than the Bel Canto and a touch more bitterness, but it has nice round full mouthfeel, classic dark roast smoothness and hazelnut notes, peppery aftertaste and notes of cloves.
Allegro Espresso Bel Canto – Best Swiss Water Decaf For Milky Drinks
Another Fairtrade and Organic decaf, Allegro’s Espresso Bel Canto is a touch lighter than its French Roast equivalent and is versatile for a variety of milky drinks – flat whites, lattes and cappuccino. They call it medium roast on the packet, but our batch was darkly roasted.
V60 Notes: We found this to be an ideal everyday all-rounder for strong coffee that can punch through milky drinks – winey with some dried fruit nuts and little bitterness or acidity with a nice length and raisin aftertaste.
AeroPress Notes: Great option for those who like strong dark roast coffee and low acidity coffees, nice dark chocolate tones, toasted cereal and grain. It’s a good decaf for milk-based coffee drinks and it’s also not very bitter.
365 Whole Foods Market – Buzz Free Decaf – Commended For Fairtrade and Organic Certification
Ok, we’ll be honest. We’re not very keen on this coffee (and in British English, that kind of means we don’t really like this coffee), but it’s not awful and it’s Fairtrade Organic Swiss Water Decaf and that’s to be commended.
V60 Notes: Welcome to Marlboro Country - overpowering smokiness and woodiness, only really for milky drinks, almost no sweetness or acidity, and bitter mouthfeel, but for the strong coffee obsessives, this might be the one for you!
AeroPress Notes: For those who like their coffee super strong – this is for you – earthy and ashy, a touch of astringency in the mouth, very bold – we can only envisage this served with milk.
And Um… The “Less Good” Swiss Water Decaf Coffees Ranked:
We bought a wide a range of Swiss Water Decafs and tried to have no judgements or pre-conceived ideas about the decafs we were cupping, but…
Well…here’s our reviews of these decafs:
San Francisco Decaf Gourmet Blend – Best For Not Drinking Swiss Water Decaf
The blurb from San Francisco says it’s a “gourmet blend” created by “our president - a decaf drinker who became tired of all of the wimpy decafs out there”. Well, what can we say, but mission accomplished! It’s definitely not for wimps, but we would also venture that tough guys may also shudder when drinking it.
V60 Notes: The overwhelming feeling is something is on fire - burnt rubber, acrid, lingering petroleum mouthfeel, which was even more intense with V60 over AeroPress. The aftertaste stays with you and not in a good way. This might be the stuff they use to brew decaf in gas stations?
AeroPress Notes: The brew colour is blackest of blacks – like the coffee equivalent of a black hole – and proved to have a very intense “knock your block off” taste, which might suit a large amount of milk, but it really was hard to take any pleasure out of this experience, though if we had to make a choice, we prefer the Aeropress.
Organic Coffee Co Decaf Hurricane Espresso – Joint 1st With San Francisco For Undrinkable Swiss Water Decaf
They say there’s no such thing as bad publicity, so we would like to publicize this decaf to avoid. What’s incredible is they work hard to source Certified Organic Swiss Water Decaf coffee and then talk about elevations (1200-2000 metres, by the way) and varieties (Bourbon, Parainema and Caturra) and say this is “medium dark roast”, then this charred bag of “coffee” arrives. It’s confusing.
V60 Notes: We are trying to be neutral observers, but the words “wretch” and “gag” come to mind. If we’re being positive, it’s like settling down by a campfire next to Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven – an acrid aroma - burnt stew profile - very smoky, burnt wood, some chemical overtones (despite being organic), who would drink this even with a gallon of milk?
AeroPress Notes: Marginally better than the V60 – smoother and with milk might be drinkable, but still a heavy bitterness, brothy pungent and burnt rubber and ash.