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    What is decaf coffee? Benefits and difference with regular coffee

    Home / News / What is decaf coffee? Benefits and difference with regular coffee

    Coffee is one of the most loved and consumed beverages in the world: at the bar, at home after a meal or on any convivial occasion. However, for various reasons, many people cannot enjoy the benefits of this well-known and ancient beverage. Precisely for this reason, the production, study of the effects and sale of decaffeinated coffee is becoming increasingly popular as a valid alternative for those who wish to enjoy the taste of coffee without the stimulating effects of caffeine.

    What is decaffeinated coffee and how is it produced?

    Decaffeinated coffee originated in Europe and spread everywhere around the early 1900s. It can be considered a ‘light’ coffee, i.e., a type of coffee that is processed and deprived of its famous natural excitant: caffeine.

    According to current legislation, one can speak of “decaf coffee” if the percentage of caffeine is less than 0.3% considering the dry product[1]. The techniques for reducing the presence of this alkaloid in coffee – always practised before the beans are roasted – differ mainly in the substances used. Here are the most common:

    1. Chemical solvent: this system involves soaking the coffee beans in water and solvents, such as methylene chloride or ethyl acetate, to dissolve the caffeine without significantly altering the flavours. Subsequently, the beans are rinsed and dried. This traditional method is now replaced by processes that are considered safer from a health point of view.
    2. Water: this process involves immersing the green coffee beans in heated water, which is then filtered with activated charcoal to block the caffeine while allowing the other substances to permeate. This is the simplest method, but also the most invasive, as the hot water reduces the organoleptic richness of the coffee and its aromatic substances.
    3. Carbon dioxide: this method uses carbon dioxide in supercritical form (a phase between liquid and gas) to extract caffeine, which is then reused in the chemical, food, and pharmaceutical industries. The advantages of this approach, which is the most widespread today, are considerable: no solvents are used, and the original aromas of the coffee are not compromised.

    Features of decaffeinated coffee

    Decaffeinated coffee retains much of the flavour, aroma, and beneficial compounds of traditional coffee, but this is a coffee with a significantly reduced caffeine content. The quality of decaffeinated coffee depends greatly on the decaffeination method used and the beans used. Compared to traditional coffee, it may present slight variations in taste, and is often perceived as more delicate or less intense.

    As already explained above, the main difference between decaffeinated and regular coffee lies in the caffeine content, which ranges from 70 to 140 mg in traditional coffee and drops to less than 5 mg after decaffeination. This is why decaffeinated coffee is an ideal choice for those who are sensitive to caffeine or wish to limit the consumption of stimulants, such as pregnant women, people with anxiety problems or those suffering from insomnia. You can read more about all the differences between decaf coffee and regular coffee on De Roccis, where you can find decaffeinated coffee pods.

    Benefits of decaffeinated coffee

    Decaffeinated coffee has excellent nutritional values and is rich in antioxidants, which help fight free radicals and improve glucose metabolism, helping to prevent type 2 diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.

    It is also a natural painkiller and analgesic and is combined with other benefits such as improving liver function and digestion.

    Being a low-calorie drink, it is perfect for people on a strict diet. Moreover, since it contains a minimum percentage of caffeine, it does not cause tachycardia, heartburn, or acid reflux.

    Pitfalls and myths to dispel about decaf coffee

    Despite its many benefits, decaffeinated coffee may present some side effects, such as gastric sensitivity due to the acids present in coffee, regardless of the caffeine content. In addition, decaffeination methods may leave minute traces of solvents in the coffee beans, although in amounts considered safe for consumption, and may remove other beneficial compounds besides caffeine, slightly affecting the nutritional profile of coffee.

    In general, although doubts about its healthiness are quite widespread, decaffeinated coffee is not bad at all. No public health body has ever highlighted any significant epidemiological or health problems and the contraindications of this drink are almost the same as those of normal coffee.

    So green light but always in moderation

    Although it may present slight differences in taste and some rare side effects, the benefits of decaf coffee make it an excellent alternative for many consumers wishing to reduce their caffeine intake. As always, the important thing is the ability to choose quality products and regulate consumption. All it takes is a pinch of attention and common sense to continue to indulge in this small daily pleasure.

    [1] Source: Italian Presidential Decree of 16 February 1973, no. 470 (ispettorisanitari.it)

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