Can Espresso Be Decaf?
Can espresso be decaf? Nothing beats a delicious espresso, but it’s easy to have to much of a good thing. If you’ve ever wanted the rich taste and aroma of espresso without the jitters it can sometimes cause, you may have tried the decaf version of your favorite espresso.
However, the question immediately arises: can espresso be decaf in the sense that it has no caffeine at all? This post is dedicated to answering to this question in detail.
What is Decaf Coffee?
When people hear the words “decaf coffee”, most of them imagine a beverage that’s free from any caffeine. You’re probably one of these people! This is why most people switch to decaf when they feel like they’ve already hit their caffeine limit.
However, decaf coffee doesn’t necessarily mean that the coffee doesn’t contain any caffeine at all- it simply means that the caffeine content is much lower compared to regular coffee. Most importantly, the same holds true of espresso.
How Much Caffeine is in a Cup of Decaf Coffee?
So now the question is, how much caffeine does a cup of decaf coffee contain?
A regular 8-ounce cup of decaf coffee contains around 7 mg. of caffeine. Comparatively, an 8-oz cup of regular coffee will contain around 70-140 mg. of caffeine, depending on the type of beans and roast used.
This means that, yes, you can consume around the same amount of caffeine with decaf coffee as you would with regular coffee if you drink 5 or more cups of decaf coffee per day. It might sound like a lot, but some people do reach that amount especially if they feel less guilty drinking decaf.
How is Decaf Coffee Produced?
There are generally three methods used to produce decaf coffee.
The first two ways to produce decaf coffee involves soaking the beans in hot water or steaming them. During the heating process, the pores of the beans open. Once the pores are open, the beans are rinsed with methylene chloride, which bonds to the caffeine inside the beans.
Afterwards, the beans are washed in clean water. The longer the beans are soaked in hot water or exposed to steam, the more caffeine is removed from the beans. Most instant coffee manufacturers that make decaf versions of their products prefer these two methods because they are quick and cheap.
The third method is known as the Swiss method, and it is time-consuming and expensive. This method is generally preferred by higher-end coffee makers because it is said to produce a superior tasting product since there is no chemical addition in the process.
For the Swiss method, the beans are soaked in hot water for a longer period of time, then the beans are filtered using activated charcoal. The charcoal extracts the caffeine from the beans, resulting in decaf coffee.
So, Can Espresso Be Decaf or Not?
One of the most prevailing myths about espresso is that it’s a type of coffee with extra caffeine. This is probably why the term “decaf espresso” seems oxymoronic – how can espresso be decaf since it contains extra caffeine?
However, espresso is simply a method of roasting and brewing coffee, which is why it’s entirely possible that espresso can be decaf. You simply need to use decaf beans when making your espresso.
Simply put: yes, espresso can be decaf. Choose the type of decaf beans that you want and use them in the same manner as you would use regular coffee beans.
What About the Type of Bean and Roast?
The type of bean and roasting process that you choose will have an impact on the caffeine amount inside the coffee.
First, let’s tackle the type of bean. Arabica beans have a lower caffeine content compared to Robusta beans, which means that most decaf coffee blends that you find will probably be made from 100% Arabica beans. However, this does not mean that there aren’t any decaf blends made from Robusta. This simply means that Robusta beans need to be subjected to a longer process of removing the caffeine, and decaf coffee made with Robusta might be more expensive.
Next, we’ll have a look at the roasting process. During the decaffeination process, the beans undergo a physical change as well as a chemical change. Removing the caffeine results in beans that are lighter in color and weight compared to regular coffee beans, which in turn changes the way the beans respond to the roasting process.
Coffee makers who make decaf coffee beans tweak the roasting temperature of the beans to produce the dark roast that you want to make an espresso. However, don’t be surprised if decaf coffee beans seem to be darker in color compared to regular coffee beans; they’ll still make a delicious and rich espresso shot!
Is Decaf Coffee a Better Choice for You?
The decision to switch from regular coffee to decaf coffee is usually based on health. Those who constantly drink regular coffee may experience the side effects of becoming overcaffeinated, such as the jitters, insomnia, irritability, or increased blood pressure. Thus, they make the decision to switch from regular coffee to decaf.
If you are on medications that can interact negatively with caffeine, you might also consider switching from regular coffee to decaf.
Some people also have caffeine sensitivity, and even a single cup of regular coffee can cause them to experience stomach problems, heart burn, and acid reflux.
Finally, drinking regular espresso can lead to a caffeine crash, especially if you drink one is the morning. Here’s a common scenario: you drink your morning espresso shot before going to work, and up until lunch time, you feel energized and ready to go! However, during the afternoon, you start to feel lethargic and sluggish; that’s the caffeine crash! You either grab another cup of coffee or you try to power through it. Drinking a cup of decaf can give you a little bit of pep without getting you too buzzed.
Now you can stop wondering can espresso be decaf because the answer is YES! You can grab your normal drink in the morning, and if you still need a little pick-me-up in the afternoon, a nice decaf espresso shot is a great compromise.
For newbie enthusiasts in the brewing business, it can be a little intimidating to do a little experiment– well, unless you always have the budget to get another machine if your current one messes up. Can you use espresso to make regular coffee?