Decaf vs Regular Coffee; Which Is Better?

If you have been wondering about the differences between decaf vs. regular coffee, then this in-depth guide is for you.

In this article, we will cover how decaf differs from regular coffee in terms of the amount of caffeine, taste, acidity and how each type of coffee affects our health.

Most people drink coffee because it tastes good and has caffeine in it, but why would someone choose a decaf cup instead of the bold traditional cup?

Yes, it’s true that many people like to drink coffee, but they don’t want to get too much caffeine for personal or health reasons.

Decaffeinated coffee is a great option for such people.

The only difference between regular coffee and decaf coffee is that the caffeine has been removed from the decaf coffee.

Key Takeaways:

Decaf vs. Regular Coffee

  • Decaf or decaffeinated coffee comes from coffee beans that have had at least 97% of their caffeine removed. A standard cup of regular coffee has around 95 milligrams of caffeine while a cup of decaf coffee has around 2 milligrams of caffeine.
  • Decaf coffee allows you to enjoy coffee throughout the day without issues with jitteriness or other side effects of high levels of caffeine.
  • Decaf coffee tastes about the same as regular coffee.
  • Decaf coffee is less acidic than regular coffee, because the process of decaffeination removes some of the coffee’s naturally occurring phenolic acids.

Keep in mind that decaf coffee still contains a very small amount of caffeine (around 3 percent compared to regular coffee) since 100% of caffeine can never be removed completely.

Caffeine is something that is naturally found in coffee beans. Whether you choose decaf or regular coffee is always a matter of personal taste.

According to several studies, drinking coffee in moderation has been found to offer several health advantages.

But for people who are sensitive to caffeine, decaffeinated coffee might be a better choice.

Here’s a table that clearly shows the major differences between decaf and regular coffee.

Decaf vs. Regular Coffee

Decaf (8oz. serving)Regular Coffee (8oz. serving)
AcidityLess acidicMore acidic
TasteBold, strong, slightly sour.Bold, strong, rich flavor
Antioxidants15% less than regular coffeeFull of antioxidants
BenefitsImproves sleep, prevents diabetes, easy on the stomach, good for heartBoosts energy, good for brain, heart and liver, boosts immunity etc.
Side EffectsUnknowingly ingesting chemicals, Raises LDL cholesterol, causes headaches & drowsiness.Insomnia, nervousness and restlessness, stomach upset, nausea and vomiting, increased heart rate

How much caffeine is in decaf coffee vs. regular coffee?

Most of us know and love caffeine, the central nervous system stimulant that naturally occurs in coffee beans and gives our pour-overs and cold brews their energy-boosting magic.

But for those who are sensitive to caffeine or who wish to cut back on the amount of caffeine they consume may find that decaf is an excellent substitute. 

If you don’t want to completely give up the delightful flavor of coffee, decaf coffee is an excellent choice.

However, decaf is not 100 percent caffeine-free. There is some caffeine in your decaf.

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), an eight-ounce cup of regular coffee generally has between 95-200 milligrams of caffeine, but an eight-ounce cup of decaf coffee typically only contains between 2-15 milligrams of caffeine.

When compared to the amounts of caffeine in a regular coffee, the difference is substantial. Decaf coffee allows you to enjoy coffee throughout the day without issues with jitteriness or other side effects of high levels of caffeine.

There are no regulations specifying the maximum amount of caffeine that coffee can contain in order to be labeled decaf. 

However, as a general rule, the FDA has not objected to the use of the term ‘decaffeinated’ on coffee if at least 97 percent of the original caffeine has been removed.

The caffeine content also depends on the beans that were used. A Robusta bean typically contains twice the amount of caffeine as Arabica beans.

Does Decaf Coffee Taste Different than Regular Coffee?

Decaf coffee tastes about the same as regular coffee. Taste-wise, you can’t tell the difference between a cup of regular coffee and a cup of decaf coffee.

Some people may reject the mere idea of having a decaf coffee instead of their regular cup of joe, while others will gladly switch and not say a word. 

The tastes of decaf and regular coffee aren’t that different from each other. Most coffee lovers wouldn’t notice if someone switched their coffee by accident.

The only difference is that decaf coffee tends to have a slightly more sour taste. This is because of how the coffee beans are processed.

When you make decaffeinated coffee at home or order it at your favorite coffee shop, the likelihood is that you won’t be able to tell the difference in the taste of the coffee.

The taste of coffee is derived from the coffee bean as well as the method that is used to process it.

Before reaching a grocery store and eventually to your home, the coffee beans will have to go through a certain process first.

Coffee beans that are intended to be decaffeinated go through a little more involved process in order to extract as much of the caffeine from them as is possible, which ultimately results in a negligible sour flavor.

Is Decaf Coffee Less Acidic than Regular Coffee?

You may be a coffee lover, but if you struggle with gastrointestinal issues or acid reflux, you should switch to low-acid coffee options.

Ordinary coffee inherits its acidity during the roasting process, and different roasting durations and temperature leads to different levels of acidity.

In certain cases, you may notice increased amounts of acid, while in others, the acid has been totally eliminated because of the roasting.

When people say that coffee has an acidic taste, they mean that the acids in the coffee beans give it a certain flavor.

The ph scale is used to figure out how acidic a solution is. If a solution’s pH value is below 7, it is said to be acidic.

The exact pH value of decaf coffee depends on a lot of different things. These include the type of beans, the way they are roasted, how they are brewed, and the amount of coffee to water used for brewing.

However, many studies have concluded that decaffeinated coffee is in fact less acidic than regular coffee, because the process of decaffeination removes some of the coffee’s naturally occurring phenolic acids.

So we can conclude that decaf coffee is can be very beneficial to you if you’re suffering from sore stomachs, acid reflux, or even have a seriously bad case of the coffee jitters from time to time.

Is Decaf Better than Regular Coffee for Weight Loss?

Like regular coffee, decaf coffee is naturally low in calories if you drink it by itself, which can help you lose weight. But if you add a lot of cream or sugar, the calories will go up and the caffeine won’t help you lose weight as much as it could.

1. Caffeine & Weight Loss

Decaffeinated coffee has very little caffeine, as opposed to none at all. As we have already discussed, typically, 97% of the caffeine has been removed from decaf coffee through a variety of processes.

Since caffeine does help in weight loss, and because decaffeinated coffee contains some caffeine, it may provide some of the weight-loss advantages associated with caffeine, but to a lesser extent.

2. Calories & Decaf Coffee

Each 8-ounce serving of decaffeinated coffee contains 0 calories. This implies that drinking it instead of a higher-calorie beverage, such as a caffeine-free lemonade, will help you get into a calorie deficit, which can contribute to weight reduction over time. 

An 8-ounce glass of lemonade contains 99 calories, so replacing it with decaf coffee five times a week can result in you consuming 500-calorie less per week. Over the course of a year, this can result in a loss of about 8 pounds of body weight. 

3. Watch What You Add to Your Decaf

While coffee is essentially calorie-free, sugar, and cream substantially increase the calorie content. A teaspoon of sugar has 16 calories per serving, while a 1-tablespoon of coffee creamer contains 20 calories.

One of the most common coffee habits (and sometimes hardest to quit) is unknowingly adding large amounts of sugar to your morning beverage with syrups and sweeteners.

Moreover, coffee creamer too can add even more sugar, calories, and fat to your daily cup of joe. It’s important to limit the amount you’re using or find one with less sugar and fat.

So to help caffeine aid you in losing weight and minimize your risk of weight gain, try cutting out added sugar and high-calorie additives.

Health Benefits of Decaf Coffee vs. Regular Coffee

Coffee is a common morning drink that contains caffeine. Caffeine is also a drug that’s widely consumed around the world. Most people get their caffeine from coffee.

However, with more and more individuals becoming health-conscious, a number of consumers have started to question their caffeine consumption. 

Both decaf and regular coffee affect our health in many positive ways. Let’s discuss them one by one.

Health Benefits of Decaf Coffee

1. Lowers the risk of Type 2 diabetes

Several studies have shown that drinking decaf coffee may lower the chance of getting Type 2 diabetes. 

Antioxidants found in decaf coffee help to stop free radicals from causing damage. This cuts down on oxidative damage and can help keep diseases like Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer at bay. 

Magnesium, found in decaf coffee is also known to help protect against diabetes.

2. Less caffeine can help you sleep better and feel less anxious.

Caffeine is a strong stimulant that can make it hard for you to fall asleep and keep you tossing and turning in your bed. 

Transitioning to decaf can help you sleep better if too much caffeine is keeping you up at night. 

This will give you more energy in the morning. Getting rid of caffeine can also help reduce anxiety, particularly for people with anxiety disorders.

3. Decaf can detoxify your body.

Vitamin B-3 found in decaf coffee helps clean your body. It works to fight off free radicals and other foreign substances that are formed by stress and anxiety.

4. Decaf is lower in acidity & easy on your stomach.

The process of decaffeination not only removes caffeine but it also makes decaf coffee less acidic. 

People with chronic heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may find that shifting to decaf coffee and eating less acidic foods can help reduce acid reflux and other symptoms.

5. Improved cognitive abilities.

Polyphenols, which are found in decaffeinated coffee, are proven to increase cognitive function and alertness. It has also been shown that these polyphenols prevent cognitive disorders such as dementia.

Health Benefits of Regular Coffee

1. Prevent heart disease.

A daily intake of one to two cups of coffee may protect against heart failure, which occurs when a weaker heart has trouble pumping enough blood to the body.

2. Could support brain health.

Some research suggests that drinking coffee could help protect against Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and cognitive decline.

3. May promote weight loss.

Some research suggests that coffee could change how fat is stored in the body and help keep the gut healthy, both of which may help with weight management.

Moreover, coffee drinkers were shown to have a higher likelihood of being physically active, according to the findings of one study.

4. Helps protect your liver.

There is some evidence that drinking coffee might help protect your liver. According to the findings of certain studies, those who drink coffee are more likely to have liver enzyme levels that are within the normal range compared to people who don’t drink coffee.

5. Lowers the risk of depression.

According to the findings of a number of studies, drinking coffee may be associated with a reduced risk of clinical depression and may even be associated with a reduced risk of dying by suicide.

Is Decaf Better than Regular Coffee During Pregnancy?

Coffee is a stimulating beverage that pregnant women often crave. But since caffeine intake during pregnancy isn’t advisable, many consider switching to decaffeinated coffee while pregnant.

It is a good choice for pregnant women to satiate their coffee cravings. However, it’s important to note that decaf coffee still contains caffeine.

Since decaf coffee has a lot less caffeine than regular coffee, it is usually safe to drink while you are pregnant. But it’s important to drink it in moderation. 

You can have a cup of decaf coffee once in a while if you really want one, but it still has caffeine in it, so watch how much you drink. 

Keep in mind that small amounts of caffeine are also found in chocolate, soft drinks, tea, and energy drinks. 

If you eat or drink any of these things on the same day you drink coffee, your caffeine intake will go up, causing you to take in more caffeine than you planned.

Which Has More Antioxidants? Decaf or Regular Coffee?

It appears that it doesn’t matter very much whether coffee is decaffeinated or not. There’s not a major difference in the amount of antioxidants in regular or decaffeinated coffee.

Those who only drink coffee for its antioxidants should find it easy to switch to decaf because it still has the same antioxidants as regular coffee. 

But it’s important to note that decaf has a bit less of these antioxidants, presumably because of how the caffeine is removed during decaffeination.

The primary forms of antioxidants present in both of these coffees are called polyphenols and hydrocinnamic acids. These are responsible for the reduced likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease as well as type 2 diabetes.

How is Decaf Espresso Different from Regular Espresso?

The taste of decaf espresso is the same as the taste of a regular shot of espresso. The strong flavors of the espresso beans almost completely get rid of the slightly sour notes that espresso from decaf coffee can have.

Decaf espresso is a great substitute for your usual shot of regular espresso. You can enjoy a great-tasting espresso without the caffeine but with the same robust flavor notes of a regular espresso.

What are the Side Effects of Decaf Coffee?

Decaffeinated coffee is touted as a coffee replacement in a variety of health arenas. However, there are certain side effects that consuming decaf can have on your health.

1. You could be unknowingly consuming dangerous chemicals.

Decaffeination is a difficult process and is often done in unnatural ways.

The beans are soaked in a chemical solvent that leaches out the caffeine. Some of the solvents are the same ones used in paint thinner or nail polish remover.

Although the FDA has approved these chemicals in the decaffeination process, they still present a host of health risks.

2. Decaf may raise your cholesterol.

Bad cholesterol levels might go up in people who drink decaf coffee (LDL cholesterol). These effects were not seen with the consumption of regular coffee. 

A type of blood fat that is linked to metabolic syndrome was found to be higher in people who drank decaf coffee.

3. Decaf doesn’t give all the health benefits of regular coffee.

The decaffeination process turns decaf coffee into a highly processed food.

Decaffeination eliminates a significant proportion of the naturally occurring bioactive compounds that enhance your immune system.

4. Decaf may cause headaches & fatigue.

It’s possible that these are withdrawal symptoms. People who drink coffee on a daily basis may find that switching to decaf coffee causes them to endure frequent headaches, sleepiness, and even exhaustion.

Is Decaf Coffee Easier on the Stomach than Regular Coffee?

Acid reflux and heartburn are two common side effects of drinking coffee every day. Coffee has these negative effects because it lowers the lower esophageal sphincter pressure (LES).

However, unlike normal coffee, there is evidence that decaffeinated coffee has no negative consequences on LES function.

All of this suggests that caffeine is to blame for acid reflux or heartburn after drinking coffee.

As a result, for those who suffer from GERD, decaf coffee may be a good substitute for regular coffee.

Does Decaf Affect Kidneys in the Same Way as Regular Coffee Does?

Caffeine, an active ingredient in coffee, is not inherently bad for you or your kidneys. Overall, caffeine is not likely to damage your kidneys as long as it is consumed in small doses.

However, if you’re suffering from a certain kidney disease, try swapping out your regular coffee for decaf. 

According to the National Kidney Foundation, one to two cups of decaf coffee is perfectly acceptable for someone suffering from kidney disease.

How does Decaf Coffee Heart Health?

Many studies have concluded that caffeine from any source appeared to be associated with decreased heart failure risk, and caffeine was at least part of the reason for the apparent benefit of drinking more coffee.

However, decaffeinated coffee seems to have a negative impact on health as it raises the level of bad cholesterol, also known as LDL cholesterol.

This may adversely affect heart health.

Who Should Switch to Decaf Over Regular Coffee?

Although many people are able to tolerate higher levels of caffeine, there are certain people who should steer clear of it.

If someone consumes caffeine and then has symptoms such as sleeplessness, anxiety, headaches, irritability, jitters, nausea, or a rise in blood pressure, they may consider switching to decaf coffee if they choose to drink coffee at all.

Diets low in caffeine may also be recommended for those who suffer from particular medical issues, such as those who are taking drugs that have the potential to interact negatively with caffeine.

Some people are able to take significant amounts of caffeine without having any adverse effects, but others who are sensitive to the stimulant should choose decaffeinated coffee instead.

Moreover, caffeine has been recognized as a potential agent that might bring on heartburn symptoms. Because of this, those who suffer from heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may find that they need to limit the amount of coffee they consume.

Yet, it is essential to keep in mind that both disorders have the potential to be aggravated by coffee in general, regardless of whether or not it contains caffeine.

If you suffer from any of these ailments, it is recommended that you switch to drinking decaf dark roast coffee because it has less caffeine and is typically less acidic.

Also, it is recommended that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding cut back on their use of caffeine.

Written by:
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Amit Gupta

Hi, my name is Amit Gupta, and I am the owner and contributor at Cafeish. My obsession with coffee started when I received my first French press as a gift almost ten years ago. Since then, my love of coffee – and the number of coffee gadgets I own – has grown considerably.

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