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How Much Caffeine is in Decaf Coffee? 

Drinking decaf has become a whole lot more popular in recent years, as many coffee lovers have become more conscious about their health. 

Whilst drinking regular, caffeinated coffee does actually have quite a few health benefits, decaf can be used as a tool to reduce overall caffeine intake. Not everyone can handle 3 or 4 cups of coffee per day, but may still want to enjoy that great coffee taste without risking getting the jitters! 

However, when we say decaf, it is important to remember that it is not actually 100% caffeine free. There is in fact a small amount of caffeine, around 2-4mg, that will be in every cup of decaf. This is because the U.S. standard for classifying decaffeinated coffee is for 97% of caffeine to be removed, whereas in Europe it is 99%.  

What is Decaf Coffee?

Decaf coffee is actually not that different from regular coffee, except that it is processed for a few more steps in order to remove the caffeine. This can be done in a number of different ways, but in essence green (unroasted) coffee beans are generally submerged into a substance of some description that then dissolves the caffeine molecules away. 

This is done through the Swiss Water Method, through Direct or Indirect Solvents, or by using Liquid Carbon Dioxide. 

Why Do People Drink Decaf Coffee? 

Decaf coffee is not just reserved for those that have an intolerance to caffeine. 

There are a number of reasons why coffee lovers may opt for decaf, including: 

  • Caffeine intolerance
  • Severe caffeine sensitivity
  • Anxiety
  • Coffee jitters
  • Using alternative caffeine-based substances or medication i.e. pre-workout
  • Insomnia
  • High blood pressure
  • Diarrhoea
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Acid reflux
  • Heartburn
  • Dehydration issues. 

How much Caffeine is in Decaf Coffee? 

Like with any cup of coffee, the brewing method, beans type and volume of coffee will determine how much caffeine is actually in the cup. 

This is still the case even with decaf, but of course just on a much smaller scale. 

For example, most Robusta coffee beans will contain around 2.7% caffeine (nearly double that of the most popular Arabica). This amounts to 200-250mg per 100 ml in a typical serving. However, there are some very highly caffeinated beans such as Black Label Coffee and Very Strong Coffee that can contain up to 1,500mg of caffeine per serving! This is over 10X the amount of a regular cup of coffee, so is definitely not for the faint-hearted. 

However, given that decaf coffee can only ever contain 3% caffeine, even a strong Robusta bean that has been decaffeinated would only ever contain around 8 mg of caffeine. This is such a small amount, when you consider a cup of instant coffee (generally considered the least caffeinated form of drinking regular coffee), containing around 80 mg of caffeine. 

In reality, the vast majority of decaf coffee out there on the market today, be it beans, pre-ground or instant, will contain less than 5 mg of caffeine per serving. 

Can You Drink Decaf Coffee at Night? 

Yes, drinking decaf coffee at night won’t actually disrupt your sleep. 

Many people may experience a disruption to their sleep or have a hard time falling sleep if they drink caffeinated coffee later in the day. Since caffeine has a half-life of around 12 hours, if you drink coffee post-midday, you’ll still have a significant amount of it circulating in your system at midnight. 

However, since decaf coffee contains such a minuscule amount of caffeine, the vast, vast majority of the population will be able to drink it well into the evening without it causing any disruption to their sleep at all. 

Are there Side Effects of Drinking Decaf Coffee?

Most people that drink decaf coffee don’t experience any health-related side effects, other than a reduced caffeine intake! 

However, as with all food and drinks, there are always exceptions to the rule. 

Scientific tests have shown that coffee that is decaffeinated through natural methods, such as the Swiss Water Process, French Water Process or liquid carbon dioxide, poses no threat to someone’s health. 

However, mass-produced decaf coffee that is decaffeinated using chemicals such as methylene chloride and ethyl acetate can be seen as ‘unnatural’ due to their use of exogenous substances. 

Luckily for coffee lovers that want to lower their caffeine intake, the FDA has very strict regulations in place which limit the amount of methylene chloride (the more controversial of the two chemicals), to 0.001% of the coffee produced. Back in 1999, it was concluded by the FDA that consuming this trace amount of methylene chloride poses no health risks to humans – Planet Coffee “Is decaf coffee safe to drink?” (04/12/2017). 

Therefore, there are no negative side effects to drinking decaf coffee. 


Overall, there is such a trace amount of caffeine in decaf coffee that it hardly bears thinking about. Yes, there is a very small amount of the stimulant even in coffee that is labeled as decaf, but it is important to remember that it is virtually impossible to entirely remove all caffeine from coffee. 

However, the 97% caffeine-free threshold used in the U.S. for instance, means that even if you are intolerant to caffeine or simply want to reduce your overall caffeine intake throughout the day, drinking decaf can help you out! 

Decaf coffee doesn’t have to taste bad either, with so many great quality specialty coffee roasters out there nowadays, there are plenty of great-tasting decaf options to choose from! 

Related Questions

Is Decaf Worse than Caffeine?

No not at all! While there is often a stigma attached to decaf coffee, it is completely unfounded. 

Decaf coffee is not any worse quality than regular, caffeinated coffee, particularly if a natural method such as the Swiss Water Process is used. 

Can you Feel Caffeine in Decaf Coffee? 

Unless you have an extremely acute sensitivity to caffeine, no. 

There are such small amounts of caffeine in decaf coffee that it would be a very rare case for someone to feel any sort of effect from drinking it. 

Does Decaf Coffee Raise Blood Pressure? 

No, in fact, it lowers it! 

Whilst the impact is not huge, many studies have shown that switching to decaf coffee can cause a measurable decrease in blood pressure. 

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