How much caffeine in a cup of coffee?
This is a question we get asked regularly when discussing decaf coffee and the average amount of caffeine found in coffee. Generally, the average cup of filter or drip coffee contains around 100mg of coffee. Similar to the amount found in two cups of tea.
For those fellow coffee-lovers who are mad about the flavour, but don’t get the appeal of getting all wired up on caffeine (or just want a good night’s sleep), you’ll certainly welcome the rise of quality decaf options.
Long gone are the days where you ask for a caffeinated drink at a cafe and they present you with a mint tea.
One of the latest additions to the menu board of a speciality cafe is a good quality blend of decaffeinated coffee (that can then be transformed into all of your favourite staple brews). It may come as a surprise to learn that, according to research undertaken by Allegra Strategies, 6% of cafe-goers regularly choose a decaf coffee.
This rising trend has influenced the practices of speciality coffee roasters. Now - rather than offering caffeine-only beans, or some dodgy cheap machine-made variety - you can buy a speciality coffee that’s been made using proper beans, that have retained the full breadth of their sensational flavour profile, just minus the caffeine hit.
But what does a decaffeinated coffee bean entail? How does removing the caffeine from coffee even work? In this blog post, we’ll cover the decaffeination process, our speciality decaf beans, and the benefits that come with opting for a decaf coffee every once in a while.
Producing a decaf coffee
In this process, the beans are stripped of *almost* all of their caffeine. European law dictates that, in order to class as a decaf coffee, the roasted beans must have a caffeine content of no more than 0.1%.
This process happens while they are still green - if you were to try to decaffeinate a roasted bean, you’d be left with a straw-like, dry coffee of a super unpleasant texture.
The process of decaffeinating a coffee bean basically involves first swelling the green beans (this is done using either water or steam), extracting the caffeine, then drying the now-decaffeinated beans.
During the extraction process, the caffeine is released from the beans through the use of either water, a solvent, or an activated carbon. The most popular solvents to be used in this process include ethyl acetate, methylene chloride, or supercritical CO₂. These solvents are circulated around the beans, which acts as a trigger for the caffeine to be withdrawn from the beans. The extracting vessel is then drained, and the process is repeated a few times until the beans possess the minimum amount of caffeine possible.
Ludwig Roselius invented the very first decaffeination process. Since then, the process has evolved somewhat. Although the chemical solvents from this first version of the process are still used today, our conscious coffee-loving consumers have encouraged the use of more natural, chemical-free methods.
These new, innovative and gentler methods include The Swiss Water Process and The CO₂ Process. Alongside being a more natural option, also bring the added benefit of better preserving the coffee beans’ flavour. So, the next time you’re on the lookout for a decaf coffee, try to keep an eye out for these particular methods, as it means that the coffee’s rich flavours and aromas have been far less compromised.
To give a bit more detail about these methods, The Swiss Water Process involves soaking raw green beans in a solvent made from caffeine-free green coffee extract. As the beans are soaked in this liquid, the caffeine is withdrawn from the beans and remains in the liquid.
For The CO₂ Process, this differs in that the raw green beans are soaked in water, in a sealed tank. Then, high pressure of CO₂ is pumped into the beans. This pressure forces out the caffeine while leaving the molecules that provide the coffee’s taste safely behind.
Although neither method provides you with an absolutely perfect flavour of coffee that’s been entirely unaffected, there’s no disputing the fact that the decaf coffee industry has come on in leaps and bounds in a few decades. It’s certainly a tricky bit of chemistry, but we have high hopes that the process will advance even further in the next few decades.
How much caffeine in a cup of decaf coffee?
In answer to the first question, decaf coffee is not 100% absolutely caffeine-free. Usually, decaf coffee contains about 3mg of caffeine in each cup. So, if you absolutely want to cut all caffeine out of your diet, your best bet is to choose a drink that never had any caffeine in it from the start.
How much caffeine in a cup of regular coffee?
Regular coffee can contain around 70-140mg of caffeine, so you can see that the amount has been hugely cut down. It is recommended that a healthy adult should not drink more than 400mg of caffeine in a day. Decaffeinated coffee is defined as coffee beans that have had a minimum of 97% of their original caffeine levels removed.
The benefits that ordering your coffee minus the caffeine include:
● It’s a safe option for women who are pregnant or breast-feeding
● Decaf is a recommended choice for any individuals with high blood pressure
● It puts a stop to caffeine’s anxiety-inducing effects
● Unlike caffeinated coffee, decaf won’t cause you any tummy trouble
● Depending on coffee to keep your energy levels up can cause erratic patterns in your energy
● It will help you sleep better
● Decaf coffee still boasts coffee’s high antioxidant and nutrient (including magnesium, potassium and vitamin B3) properties
● Regular coffee drinkers (of decaf and regular stuff alike) are less likely to suffer from type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some forms of cancer
● Coffee is actually the Western diet’s most significant single contributor of antioxidants
With all these benefits on offer, it’s easy to see why many of us are seeing the pros that going caffeine-free has to offer us. If you are tempted to try cutting out caffeine from your diet, cold-turkey is a good way to go. Although you might be a little bit grouchy, tired and headachy for a few days, this should wear off after three days or so.
Where can I get my hands on some divine decaf beans?
For those of you who are firmly sold on the idea of going decaf - at least for one of your daily coffees - we can set you up with some excellent decaf beans, that possess the sensational aroma and flavour profile that you’d expect from a Horsham bean, just minus the caffeine hit.
Our decaf coffees are traceable, chemical-free and have been made using single-origin beans of the finest quality from small-hold farmers. We offer two varieties of decaffeinated beans: our Colombian Decaf Coffee Beans, and our Peruvian Organic Decaf Coffee.
For our Colombian decaf coffee (also available on subscription), we decaffeinate the beans at the E.A. Sugarcane facility in Colombia, using locally-grown sugarcane in the process. The innovative sugarcane process works by using a natural solvent to strip the beans of their caffeine, which comes from fermenting sugarcane. Thanks to the excellent quality of the beans used, despite the fact that it’s a decaf option, you can still taste the full-bodied flavours of chocolate, peach and stone fruit notes - with this coffee, even the pickiest of drinkers will be happy that they opted for a caffeine-free brew.