Quick Summary: The Best Decaf Coffee Beans
So it finally happened. You’ve decided to lay off the caffeine for a while until your blood pressure gets back to normal. It’s a fate worse than death, right? A few years ago, we would have wholeheartedly agreed with you, but things have changed, and now decaf no longer tastes like feet. In fact, there are plenty of decent options. Some are so good you wouldn’t have known they were virtually caffeine-free. Excited already?
Here’s a sneak peek at our magnificent seven decaf coffees that won’t make you want to lick a cheese grater after a cuppa.
Before we dive head-first into the specifics, let's consider the contenders at a glance.
Best Caffeine-free Coffee in 2021: Everything You Need to Know
The sad truth is decaffeinated coffee is over a hundred years old. Back in 1905, Ludwig Roselius used a bit of water and a whole lot of benzene to extract caffeine from coffee beans. Don’t even try to imagine how that tasted aside from being carcinogenic.
Over the decades, humanity never let go of the dream of decaf, so new chemicals were added into the mix, with methylene chloride and ethyl acetate being the two most commonly used till recently. As you would imagine, neither of these is very healthy. What’s worse, they are responsible for the horrible reputation of decaffeinated coffee. Despite the producers’ best efforts, they could not extract the leftover chemicals from the beans, and brews tasted awful. No amount of sugar and cream could make it better.
Luckily for those of us with stressful jobs (so, for all of us), the Swiss water process replaced the chemical processing. It uses only pure water to get the caffeine out of the beans and return the flavor and aroma. No chemicals are used, so decaf is safe and delicious. The only downside is that this method is costly. So don’t be surprised to see decaf price tags above your usual price range.
You’ll notice all of the products on this whole bean decaf coffee shortlist are processed via the Swiss water method. But there’s an even better way to get decaf without ruining coffee flavor and aroma. The CO2 method is even more expensive, but it’s safe, and it affects nothing but caffeine within the beans. As a result, you get a perfect cuppa that tastes the same, but with no harmful effects on your blood pressure. This method is still a rarity, but hopefully, more producers will start adopting it to drive the prices down.
Now that you’re all caught up on the dirty details of decaffeination, it’s time to face the hard truth. Regardless of the promises, even the best decaffeinated coffee
- Still contains caffeine. In the US, you can expect as much as 3% of the original caffeine content to remain. In the EU, the number is as low as 0.3%. Sure, this amount of caffeine is nothing compared to the real deal, but if you’re set on going cold turkey, remember there’s no such thing as caffeine-free coffee. You’ll have to switch to herbal tea to be sure your caffeine consumption remains at zero.
- Tastes a bit different. While most of the difference is honestly in our heads, some alterations to smell and flavor are expected. Hundreds of natural chemicals make up the beans’ taste, and dissolving them in water before infusing the coffee back is bound to cause some losses. You might need to switch to another brand or blend to get the flavor profile you’re used to.
- May still upset your stomach. If you suffer from acid reflux, GERD, or heartburn, switching to decaf will not solve these problems. While caffeine is responsible for some of them, chlorogenic acid is the main culprit. Look into low acid decaf options if you want to get rid of blood pressure and stomach issues in one fell swoop.
With your eyes wide open, let’s plunge straight into the best decaf options we could find. You should start your decaffeinated experiments with one of these and avoid box store brands like the plague. They might be cheaper, but a single sip might turn you away from decaf for life. Try to keep an open mind and don’t focus on the fact your coffee comes mostly free of caffeine. Enjoy the smell and taste, and you might not notice the difference.
Our Top 7 Picks for Low Caffeine Coffee
We’re all different, and our tastes are even more so. That’s why this list has seven entries instead of being a long-winded love letter to a single coffee variety or another Kicking Horse coffee review. We’ve scoured the web for info and reviews, taste-tested these and other blends, and are now proud to present the seven that made it to the top. If you feel like we’ve missed a brand that’s worthy of being among the best decaf options, let us know.
Volcanica House Blend Decaf Review
- Swiss water process with zero chemicals
- Central and South American Arabica blend
- Medium roast with a full body and bold flavor
If you want your coffee to taste awesome without the caffeine hit, this is the right choice for you. Volcanica blends and single-origin beans are notorious for their bold flavor and rich body, as the beans grow on volcanic soil, enriched with all the right elements. This blend of South and Central American Arabica is no exception. Besides, the Swiss water processing to remove the caffeine is the safest option, so you can enjoy as many cups a day as you want without risking your health one way or another.
You’ve got to love Volcanica for their dedication to customer experience. Instead of being stuck with a whole bean version and no grinder, you can actually order your coffee already ground to perfect fineness for your espresso machine, French press, or drip coffee maker. Besides, if you fall in love with this variety, ordering in bulk will save you up to 10% off the order. What’s not to love?
Most buyers are happy with this blend, as it provides the right balance of sweetness, acidity, and bitterness to hit every coffee-lover’s sweet spot. Still, we’ve found one or two reviews claiming the roast was too dark with excessive bitterness. Give this blend a try and see for yourself if it offers the right flavor palette for you.
Cafe Don Pablo Colombian Decaf Review
- Medium-dark roasted Arabica
- Swiss water processed, GMO-free
- Smooth and rich taste with notes of cocoa and caramel
Who hasn’t tried Don Pablo’s coffee at least once? It’s an embodiment of everything great about Colombian java–smooth, rich, full-bodied, with a lasting finish. Luckily for us, all these great qualities do not rely on caffeine alone, and the decaf version is just as delicious as the one you’re used to. Its medium-dark roast complements Arabica beans grown in Colombian mountains, and the caramelization of the natural sugars provides a pleasantly sweet aftertaste with none of the acidity or bitterness. And the price tags for 2-pound and 5-pound bags are ridiculously affordable!
We’ve seen some confusion around the decaffeination process in the review section, and we’re here to put your mind at ease. Despite some outrageous claims, Don Pablo relies exclusively on the safe and chemical-free Swiss water process that does not require any solvents. We believe the confusion was caused by the lack of the logo on the bag. However, the company responded to negative reviews and added the SWP logo at the end of 2019, so your packaging should come with the blue seal on the front or the back.
Once you look past a couple of dramatic reviewers, most buyers are extremely happy with this coffee. It might not boast the caffeine boost of the original, but it delivers an outstanding taste that will trick your brain into believing you drink the real deal. You might want to experiment with different brewing methods to find the perfect one for you. Some buyers prefer to use drip machines, while others claim this coffee tastes divine straight from AeroPress. Considering the darker roast, cold brewing is also a viable option.
While we love Volcanica for its endless variety of decaffeinated single-origin beans and LifBoost for its dedication to healthy and clean coffee, Don Pablo is our top recommendation. The price, the taste, and the staggering amount of positive reviews make this variety a must-have for every coffee-loving household.
LifeBoost Organic Decaf Review
- Shade-grown Nicaraguan Arabica
- Non-GMO, mycotoxin-free, Swiss water processed
- Medium body with cocoa and fruity notes
If you are a coffee lover and haven’t heard of LifeBoost, you must have been living under a rock. It is considered one of the cleanest and safest coffee options on the market, as the beans are carefully cleaned, dried, and processed to avoid the development of mycotoxin that’s present in most varieties. This Nicaraguan shade-grown Arabica is Swiss water processed to preserve its mild body. At the same time, the hand-picking and drying in the sun help the beans develop a more complex flavor palette with subtle notes of fruit and cocoa. Low acidity and sweet aftertaste make it a perfect choice if you take your coffee black.
You can get your hands on a tiny 12 oz bag, but setting up a subscription may be a better option, considering you save 30%. Aside from the whole bean version, the ground coffee is available for order, but it may be too coarse for your espresso machine. The grounds are better suited for a drip coffee maker or a French press. Cold brewing is also an option if you have twelve or more hours to spare.
The price may seem a bit over the top, especially for a 12 oz bag. But it’s the cost of drinking gourmet coffee free of mycotoxin, pesticides, and other nasty chemicals that can make it to mass-market bags. Of course, some buyers complain about the flavor being too bland, but most find it delicious and worth the extra expense. Even if you don’t go for the subscription, it’s definitely worth adding to your grocery shopping list at least once.
Volcanica Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Decaf Coffee Review
- Medium body with intense chocolatey and fruity notes
- Swiss water processed Arabica beans
- Well-balanced taste for enjoying it black
Tired of the same old de caf coffee beans? Try this unique single-origin variety harvested mostly from wild Arabica trees in Ethiopian mountains, and you’ll never look back. The unique nature of this coffee is reflected in its complex flavor profile, chock-full of chocolate, strawberry, and guava notes. A single whiff will get your head spinning with strong aromas of lavender and cedar. The rich flavor comes with a mouth-tingling acidity that’s hard to find among the decaffeinated varieties. You will never guess this comes without caffeine if you don’t look at the package.
As with most Volcanica blends and single-origin beans, you’ve got plenty of options to fit your discerning brewing taste. If whole bean java doesn’t float your boat, go for a ground version for a drip coffee maker, espresso machine, or French press. The latter is also perfect for a cold brew if you were wondering. The standard bag is 16 oz, but if you’re in love, go for a 3-pack or a full-on 5-pound pack.
We might have found a unicorn in this coffee. There are almost no negative reviews! We love the complex taste without the caffeine hit, and so do most reviewers. Some are on the fence about the fruity notes or wish for a stronger chocolate flavor, but that’s a matter of personal preference. We’ve enjoyed this variety black, and have to say the bright acidity is something else!
Volcanica Colombian Supremo Decaf Coffee Review
- Single-origin Colombian Supremo
- Medium roast with fruit and cocoa notes
- Swiss water processed with zero chemicals
Who doesn’t love a good Colombian Supremo? It’s bold, punchy, and mouth-watering. Volcanica delivers on all fronts while making this variety safe for your heart by removing the caffeine. The medium roast brings out the vivid taste and bright notes of chocolate and fruit, making it a perfect option for a black coffee. Smooth, slightly acidic, and perfectly safe, this coffee will make you crave more and let you have a third and fourth cuppa without second-guessing yourself.
Though this variety is a bit more affordable than other Volcanica decaf options, it’s still more expensive than your average blend, and some buyers cannot help but point it out in their reviews. Still, if you’ve got to drink decaf, you better do it right, and there’s no better option than a single-origin Colombian Supremo that’s Swiss water processed with no chemicals to interfere with the flavor and the aroma.
Besides, if you try it and don’t like it, Volcanica is very good about refunds and exchanges. The company is committed to making every customer happy, so there’s no harm in trying this product, especially if you love true Colombian java.
Volcanica Costa Rica Decaf Tarrazu Coffee Review
- Single-origin Tarrazu Arabica from Costa Rica
- Smooth body with mild acidity
- 100% chemical-free Swiss water processing
If you haven’t realized it by now, we’re in love with the Volcanica decaf lineup, and this delicious single-origin bean is yet another mouth-watering discovery. It’s incredibly smooth with a full-body, bright, yet manageable acidity, and sweet aftertaste. Like many other entries on this shortlist, it’s a perfect choice if you’re a black coffee person.
The Tarrazu-grown Arabica beans go through the Swiss water process to eliminate the caffeine and make them safe for your cardiovascular system: no more migraines and heartburn, just quality coffee flavor and outstanding aroma without the painful side effects. The reviews are almost unanimously glowing, considering the beans are freshly roasted and packaged for your maximum enjoyment.
Is it too expensive? We don’t believe so, especially if you’re willing to buy in bulk. Besides, the flavor is worth it!
Volcanica Sumatra Mandheling Decaf Coffee Review
- Single-origin Sumatra Mandheling Arabica
- Full-bodied with notes of wine, fruit, and brown sugar
- Medium roast with mild acidity and syrupy finish
If you love the sweet, syrupy deliciousness that’s Sumatran Arabica, but cannot handle the caffeine anymore, this variety will be right up your alley. It’s medium-roasted to preserve those fruity and winey notes and the complex aroma full of cocoa and spice notes. The balanced cuppa is perfect after a French press, a drip machine, or an espresso maker, so you’ve got a wide selection of brewing methods to satisfy any mood. And if you’ve no time for grinding the beans, go for a ground version.
The only outright negative review we’ve found was the one from a self-appointed Sumatra connoisseur comparing Volcanica to Starbucks. Do we need to tell you more? Other buyers are happy with the freshness of the beans, the powerful aroma, and delicious flavor. Still, if this coffee isn’t to your taste, contact the company for a refund or replacement. Their satisfaction guarantee actually works!
The Verdict. What Are the Best Decaf Coffee Beans?
Hopefully, you’ve realized by now that decaf beans are not created equal, and quality varieties do not deserve the bad rap decaffeinated drinks have accumulated over the years. Choosing the best among the seven outstanding options on this list was a challenge, but we believe Don Pablo Colombian Decaf is worthy of our high praise. It’s a great choice if you’re only now switching to decaf or have been burnt before. Give it a try, and you’ll finally be able to enjoy your cuppa guilt-free and without the nasty caffeine side-effects.
Is Decaf Cold Brew Any Good?Most of the entries on our list are, as they come with distinct flavors that translate into a gorgeous cold-brewed cuppa. Don’t go for a box store brand coffee or a mild blend if you want to cold-brew it, as the taste will be even weaker because of low temperature, even if you steep it for 24 hours or longer.
How Do I Find Organic Decaf Coffee?Avoid any bag that doesn’t come with the Swiss water process or CO2 process logo on the bag. The cheaper decaffeination methods involve harmful chemicals that are in no way organic, even if the beans themselves are grown free of herbicides and pesticides. Look for a USDA seal and other organic certification logos on the pack, do your research, and stay safe.
Does Dark Roast Decaf Coffee Taste Better?Better is a subjective term. But if you’re looking for an extra powerful flavor with just a hint of bitterness and lower acidity, the dark roast should suit your taste well. Besides having lower caffeine content, dark roasts are usually easier on the stomach, so you can say goodbye to acid reflux and heartburn if you go this route.