The Truth About How Much Caffeine Is In Decaf Coffee

Despite its name, decaf coffee isn't completely caffeine-free. That's because the decaffeination process doesn't remove 100% of the natural caffeine from coffee beans (via Self). Although there are various ways to decaffeinate unroasted coffee beans, the most common method is by soaking them in a liquid solution containing methylene chloride or ethyl acetate. This process typically requires multiple rounds, and even so, it's still difficult to completely do away with the caffeine in its entirety.

As a result, regulations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stipulate that only 97% of the caffeine in coffee beans must be removed in order for it to be considered decaffeinated. While decaf coffee still contains small amounts of caffeine, the caffeine content in regular coffee is substantially higher. To put this into perspective, the U.S. National Library of Medicine states, "An eight-ounce cup of regular coffee typically has around 95 to 200 milligrams of caffeine" (via Medline Plus), while the same amount of decaf coffee only contains about 15 milligrams of caffeine at most.

Is decaf coffee healthy?

Much like regular coffee, decaf coffee is rich in nutrients and antioxidants and can provide many of the same health benefits. For example, nutrition and epidemiology expert Rob van Dam, M.D. tells Well+Good, "Decaffeinated coffee includes polyphenols, including chlorogenic acid and lignans." Polyphenols are micronutrients that naturally occur in plants. Packed full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, polyphenols can help protect your body against radiation, ultraviolet rays, as well as certain viruses and bacteria. They can also help reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, and other chronic illnesses.

In addition to polyphenols, coffee beans contain potassium and magnesium, two minerals that are essential to your overall health. Magnesium can improve cognitive function, while potassium can help muscle performance. Decaf coffee, in particular, can be beneficial to your health if you have a health condition that requires you to limit your caffeine intake, or if caffeine tends to make you antsy or jittery (via Women's Health). Other than that, however, both regular and decaf coffee are virtually the same when it comes to your health. Regardless of which one you drink, you'll still reap the benefits.