What to Know About Decaf Coffee

Medically Reviewed by Christine Mikstas, RD, LD on July 08, 2023
3 min read

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.

If you like the taste of coffee or are comforted by a cup of joe in the morning but can’t have caffeine, there is another option for you. Decaf coffee has its own benefits and is a good option for people who need a caffeine alternative. 

There are many reasons you might need to avoid caffeine. That doesn’t mean you have to avoid coffee. If you are sensitive to caffeine drinking, it may have negative side effects like: 

Black decaf coffee has more health benefits than any coffee with extra ingredients. Lattes, milk, syrups, and sugar can add extra calories and reduce the benefits of decaf coffee.

Like caffeinated coffee, decaf coffee has also been shown to impact your mood and overall attention span positively. It’s not in the same way that caffeine makes you alert. But, the study reported that other chemicals in coffee could impact your daily performance. 

Another benefit that decaf and caffeinated coffee share is their impact on your liver. The chemicals in both types of coffee have been shown to increase your liver enzyme levels and have a protective effect on your liver. 

Decaf coffee is a good choice for people who enjoy coffee but don't want the side effects of caffeine. This makes decaf a great choice for having it as in desserts or an accompaniment for late-night conversations or for giving to children who want to try coffee. 

A common concern that decaf coffee drinkers have is that there’s caffeine in their coffee. New research has shown that there are small amounts of caffeine in your decaf coffee

The decaffeination process removes about 97% of the caffeine from the coffee beans. So, your average cup of decaf coffee has about 2 mg of caffeine, while your average cup of regular coffee has about 95 mg of caffeine in it. 

The small amount of caffeine doesn’t typically affect most people trying to avoid it. Certain conditions, like caffeine sensitivity, may make you feel the effects of even the smallest amount of caffeine. 

If you have a condition that requires you to avoid caffeine completely, you should ask your doctor before trying decaf coffee. Since there are small amounts of caffeine present, you may need to avoid decaf coffee as well, unless your doctor allows it.

Besides wanting a noncaffeinated coffee option, you may need to try decaf coffee for health reasons. You might need decaf coffee if you have any of the following conditions. 

Blood pressure problems. If you struggle with controlling your blood pressure, you might be advised to try decaf coffee. That way, you can still get your routine morning coffee without the negative side effects.

Pregnancy. If you’re pregnant, your OBGYN may recommend you have less than 200 milligrams of caffeine in a day — which is the amount of caffeine in two cups of regular coffee. If you’re craving the taste of coffee, decaf coffee’s low caffeine levels make it a safe alternative. 

Caffeine can have harmful effects on pregnant women and their babies. Caffeine goes through the placenta and to your baby. The negative effects include pregnancy loss and low birth weight. 

Caffeine sensitivity. If you have caffeine sensitivity, you might have negative effects every time you drink a cup of regular coffee. By drinking decaf coffee, you might avoid feeling jittery or anxious. 

Certain prescription medications. You should talk to your doctor about certain medications, like some anti-anxiety drugs, that might have interactions with caffeine.

Talk to your doctor if you’re having negative reactions to caffeine. They may recommend decaf coffee as an alternative. Even if you don't need to give up caffeine, decaf coffee is a good option in the afternoon and evening.