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“What’s his problem?”

“Decaf.”

Coffee is one of the World’s most sought after beverages and it also has the potential to be extremely caffeinated. With that being said, it comes as no surprise that many people find themselves reaching for a cup of decaf later in the afternoon in order to avoid the effects of caffeine. Decaffeinated coffee is just like coffee except for the small fact that the caffeine has been removed making it an excellent alternative for those who choose to limit their daily caffeine intake.

Decaf coffee is coffee from beans that have been stripped of 97% of their caffeine content. (97% is the international standard for decaffeination, but the European Union’s standards require no less than 99.9% of caffeine to be removed from the beans.) There are a few ways to remove the caffeine from the coffee beans, most of which include some form of soaking in water, organic solvents, or carbon dioxide.

The decaffeination process

In order to strip the beans of their caffeine, the beans are soaked in the water or solvent that allows the caffeine to leach from the beans. The remaining liquid is then passed through a filter to separate the caffeine from the other beneficial compounds. Then the caffeine deficient solvent is reintroduced to the beans and the beans reabsorb those flavors. It should also be noted that the beans undergo the decaffeination process before being roasted and ground. The nutritional aspects of decaffeinated coffee are quite identical to regular coffee, aside from the obvious almost non-existent caffeine content. The only things that may appear different are the distinct tastes and smells of decaf and regular coffee. Decaffeinated coffee may provide a milder scent and flavor as well as a color difference depending on the decaffeination method used.

As I have mentioned before, decaffeinated coffee is never 100% caffeine free. Even though it comes pretty close to that 100% mark, decaf usually contains about 3 milligrams per cup. This is a miniscule amount when compared to the 70-140 milligrams of caffeine in a regular cup of coffee.

Health benefits

It’s also no secret that coffee has many nutritional perks; Coffee is said to be the largest source of antioxidants in our diets. Antioxidants are effective at reducing oxidative damage and they are also said to be associated with the prevention of heart diseases, type II diabetes, and even some types of cancer. (There’s no way to test this, but there are links between drinking coffee and prevention of these diseases.) Decaf typically holds levels of antioxidants that are similar to the levels of regular coffee, but sometimes it can contain levels that are up to 15% lower than the normal amount. This loss of antioxidants usually occurs during the decaffeination process.

On top of containing its fair share of antioxidants, decaf yields small amounts of important nutrients. One cup of decaf provides 2.4% of the recommended magnesium per day, 2.5% of vitamin B3, and 4.8% of potassium. It doesn’t seem like much, but it adds up rapidly if you drink 2-3 cups of coffee per day! With that said, go drink some of your daily nutrients! (Caffeinated or decaffeinated. It’s your choice!)

Happy Cold Brewing!

-Tawnie

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