Caffeinated vs decaffeinated coffee? Which should I choose?

Zoe | April 28, 2022

For many of us, our days are best started with a cup of hot coffee, whether that’s when we wake up, on our way to work or in the office. So whether you’re making, buying or ordering your coffee, do you opt for regular or decaffeinated coffee? Decaffeinated coffee has in recent years been growing in popularity as more and more of us make the switch. But what’s right for you and your office? We take a look at the benefits of both caffeinated and decaffeinated so you’ve got all the facts.

What is decaffeinated coffee?

Decaffeinated coffee or decaf coffee is almost the same as regular coffee, but as you’d expect, has a majority of the caffeine removed. Interestingly, decaf coffee doesn’t mean completely caffeine-free. At least 97% of it is removed but a very small amount of caffeine will still remain. Decaf coffee has less caffeine with around 7 mg per cup compared to regular coffee which has at least 70 mg of caffeine.

The process of commercial decaffeination was first patented back in 1906 by a German coffee salesman, Ludwig Roselius and the process hasn’t changed all that much since.

There are several ways to decaffeinate coffee but the most prevalent is to soak green coffee beans in a solvent – usually methylene chloride or ethyl acetate. For a chemical-free decaf experience, you can opt for what’s known as Swiss water-processed coffee. This involves extracting caffeine from green beans using only water and charcoal. Decaffeination processes require expensive equipment so as a result, nearly all decaffeinating is done by specialist companies based in Colombia, Mexico, Brazil and Canada and not here in the UK.

Historically decaf coffee has had a bad reputation for its poor taste and weaker flavour, but things have come on a long way in recent years. More and more people have come to expect a barista-style, quality coffee experience and coffee producers have certainly stepped up their game to improve decaf. In fact today, most people would be hard-pressed to tell the difference between a good quality decaf and a regular caffeinated coffee.

Why are people switching to decaf coffee?

One in five coffee drinkers now regularly opt for decaf, according to a report by Mintel. There are health benefits to both caffeinated and decaf coffee. Caffeine is a stimulant, an appetite suppressant and it can reportedly improve memory, decrease fatigue and improve your mental functioning.

The darker side of caffeine is that in some people, it can also cause anxiety, insomnia, a racing heartbeat and stomach issues. Overall, 18% of Brits worry about being too reliant on caffeine, while a confused 46% say it’s difficult to know how much caffeine is safe to drink. Health authorities in the US and around the world have concluded moderate caffeine intake can be part of a healthy diet for most adults – generally up to 400mg per day, or about 4-5 cups of coffee.

If you drink a lot of regular coffee, taking it away can actually give you short term withdrawal symptoms that can include headache, fatigue, low energy, irritability, anxiety, poor concentration, depressed mood and tremors. If you consume lots of coffee and you plan to make the switch to decaf, you might want to cut down rather than stopping abruptly so you avoid any unpleasant side effects.

What type of coffee is right for my office?

If you’re a facilities manager, business owner or office manager responsible for selecting coffee for you and your team in the office, you might be wondering which option is best. Whilst the majority of people are still opting for regular coffee, there may be some people in your team that prefer decaf.

It’s a good idea to survey the team to understand their preferences before making your decision. Another option is to get an office coffee machine that has dual bean hoppers. This means you can have one hopper for regular, and one for decaf giving your team a choice. Remember that you’re going to want to opt for a more premium decaf so you have the same quality taste you get for regular, but there are loads of great decaf coffees out there now.

Get in touch

If you need any help in defining your and your office’s coffee requirements, just get in touch with a member of our team.