Decaf Coffee: what are the benefits and is it any good?
The world has a bit of a love-hate relationship with caffeine.
Athletes and sleepy heads love it, swearing by its get-up-and-go goodness, while others are more wary of the potential side effects. Like many of our favourite foods, caffeine has had its fair share of fads and scare stories. So, let’s sift through the waffle and ask the key question: why might you choose to drink decaf?
What actually is caffeine?
Caffeine is a natural compound. That’s the first thing to make clear. It does have a chemically looking formula (C8H10N4O2, just in case you were wondering), but it is an entirely natural product both made and used by plants. In the wild, caffeine helps plants to repel pesky insects and other dangerous species.
For us, the uses of caffeine are a bit different. We are most familiar with caffeine as a stimulant to boost brainpower, make us feel awake or help us recover after a workout. This is the caffeine boost we all talk about, which will hit about 15 minutes after that delicious first sip. Why does caffeine stop us from wanting to hit snooze again and again? It’s all down to the adenosine molecule (the ones that make us feel sleepy), which caffeine subdues once we drink something like coffee. So, you could say caffeine puts sleep to sleep. ?
There are many natural sources of caffeine, with coffee, tea and chocolate amongst them. In fact, there are over 60 plant species in which caffeine naturally occurs.
Decaffeinated coffee is … not coffee without any caffeine.
You didn’t expect us to say that, did you?! All decaffeinated coffees will contain some caffeine because it’s virtually impossible to remove every last caffeine molecule. To be classified as decaf, a coffee must have had at least 97% of its caffeine removed. So, decaf coffee is coffee with most of its caffeine extracted.
There are many ways to say cheerio to a coffee’s caffeine content. At Two Chimps, our coffees are decaffeinated via the Sparkling Water or the Swiss Water processes. We only look for these two methods because they result in the highest quality, best-tasting decaf bean.
The Sparkling Water Decaffeination process was developed in 1967, and it is the method used to remove the caffeine from our current decaffeinated coffees. The method is pretty complex, as it preserves every last smidgen of coffee flavour and aroma, but the idea is easy to grasp. Essentially, this organic process sees water combined with carbon dioxide from underground lakes. This creates a sparkling water solution that ‘washes’ the beans and allows the carbon dioxide to gently extract the caffeine without affecting the flavour.
Other decaffeination methods can lead to flavour loss. With the Sparkling Water process, however, all the lovely flavours are kept locked in and ready for roasting.
Wealth of health
It’s not as simple as ‘it’s healthier.’ Regular coffee – coffee still containing all its caffeine – has lots of health benefits. It is one of the best sources of antioxidants and has been found to lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Coffee is also super lower in calories and a good source of water too.
If you look at the nutrition info of regular and decaf coffee, you won’t find much difference. That’s because, nutritionally, they are pretty much like twins. There may be a small amount of antioxidant loss during the decaffeination process but, other than that, decaf coffee will give you the same health-boosting benefits as regular coffee. Minus that punchy caffeine hit, of course.
Why do I want decaf?
Most people opting for decaf will have done so to regulate their caffeine consumption. Caffeine is fine in moderation (most things in life are!), but we are not advised to have more than 4000 mg per day on a regular basis. Wondering how much 4000 mg is? It equates to around four cups of coffee.
Coffee drinkers might also cut out caffeine for lifestyle reasons: during pregnancy, for instance, or if they find that it gives them too much of a buzz in the evening. Many coffee fans, such as Laura here at Two Chimps, will go caffeine-free from lunchtime if they find that regular coffee keeps them awake at night. Others, however, will happily drink caffeinated coffee after dinner and still be sound asleep by 10 pm. It’s just a case of finding out what works for you.
Our current decaf coffees are perfect for night-time (and daytime, and morning-time, and anytime). We love Knitting Badger and How Many Llamas Did You Say Were in the Phonebox? Two decaf divas you don’t want to miss!
The takeaway? Coffees decaffeinated using the high-quality, chemical-free processes will taste just as good as regular coffees but won’t give you that bounce-out-of-bed caffeine buzz. Coffee, both in its standard and decaf forms, provides a stack of benefits to keep you happy and healthy.
So, whether you’re cool with caffeine or driven by decaf, keep on enjoying great coffee!
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