Real coffee lovers know that coffee is about more than simply caffeine. Of course, we all may need a boost in the morning. But you may find yourself craving a delicious cup before bed, or maybe you’re just trying to avoid caffeine for health reasons.
If you’re looking for the best decaf coffee – and you don’t want to sacrifice on flavor or quality – you’ve come to the right place.
Here are our top picks for 2020, including detailed reviews of that pay special attention to everything that makes coffee so wonderful. And if you’re wondering about the decaffeinating process, take a look at our buyer’s guide. Now it’s time to start shopping!
|LifeBoost Organic Decaf Coffee Beans|
|Kicking Horse Decaf Swiss Water Process Coffee||Dark||4.60/5|
(Best Decaf Espresso Beans)
|Verena Street Swiss-Water-Process|
(Best Decaf Ground Coffee)
|Café Don Pablo Decaf Swiss Water Process Colombian Coffee||Medium-Dark||4.30/5|
Our top pick is from LifeBoost, and we especially love it because of the fact that it’s Fair Trade sourced. This means that the relationship between the roaster and the farmers has been certified as being equitable and mutually beneficial. For more information about this designation, take a look at this helpful guide.
When you sip this coffee, you’ll notice a pleasing lack of acidity and a big, rich coffee flavor. Expect some hints of fruit and even a hint of bitterness.
This coffee isn’t produced using the Swiss Water method – rather, LifeBoost is pretty open and upfront about their use of chemical solvents. They argue that this more intense and efficient method actually preserves more of the natural flavors in the beans and allows for smoother roasting. There’s no reason to worry about safety concerns and it’s true that their method does stand above similar preparations when it comes to presenting a bold and crisp flavor.
It’s for this reason that we’re choosing this as our top pick – but we do also love the great value of this option.
While our top choice eschews the Swiss Water process in an effort to preserve flavor, we don’t think that this next option from Kicking Horse really misses much at all – and it’s for this reason that we’re picking it as our runner-up.
This is a dark-roast with definite notes of nut and fruit. This means that it’s a great option for anyone who’s not afraid of something bold, and it’s sure to pack a punch. Kicking Horse makes sure to let customers know that this coffee was roasted in the Rocky Mountains – there’s no real reason that this should affect the flavor. But it is worth knowing that these beans come from Central and South America.
If you’re looking for a classic Italian flavor, this is a great option to explore. These beans have been roasted in the traditional Italian style – and this means that they are uniquely dark and rich. They are most well suited for use in an espresso machine – but if you grind them properly, they’ll do well with any other brewing method also.
We love that Lavazza has been able to roast these beans to peak flavor, while also ensuring that they do not become too oily. In general, oil is a good feature of well-roasted beans – it helps to produce great crema – but excess oil can be annoying and may clog up your machines. So it’s always wonderful to find a bean like this one.
Next up, is our top pick for pre-ground decaf coffee. Not only is this Verena Street roast conveniently pre-ground, it is also decaffeinated using the Swiss Water process – which is one of the most natural and gentle processing methods. There are no complicated solvents used in the production of this bean, and for this reason, we think this is a great choice for anyone who needs the convenience of pre-ground, but doesn’t want to sacrifice any careful preparation.
Verena Street is a small roasting company based in Iowa – and this particular roast does well in replicating some Midwestern type of simplicity. Expect some notes of vanilla, but mostly just a good solid cup of coffee.
Considering all of that, if you don’t love dark roasts, then this may not be the best choice for yourself. Though advertised as a medium roast, this coffee from Verena Street pours on the darker range.
This is another coffee processed using the Swiss Water method. And this means that it too retains some of its most delicate notes. Expect to taste a smooth flavor with some acidity and a little bit of citrus.
We especially love that Don Pablo makes such an effort to roast-to-order. This means that beans aren’t roasted on a set schedule and then warehoused – rather, beans are roasted to meet specific orders, and this cuts down on time between roasting and brewing. This attention to detail is wonderful, and the notable freshness shines through in the finished product.
We think this is a great choice for anyone who is looking for an authentic South American roast and who doesn’t mind splurging a little bit. You’ll enjoy this bright Colombian bean and the wildly fresh roasting.
When San Francisco Bay Coffee introduces this roast, they’re quick to make jokes about all the wimpy decaf coffee out there – but they may be getting a bit ahead of themselves. While this is supposed to be their answer to this problem, the end result is actually also not particularly strong – even a little bit wimpy itself.
This coffee has definite notes of nuttiness and some darker flavors – but in general, many customers report that there simply is no taste beyond that. In fact, many people complain about a lack of aroma or aftertaste. If these are crucial factors to you when thinking about your coffee, then this may not be the best choice out there.
All that being said though, this is definitely a solid choice. San Francisco Bay Coffee is a reliable company and this will be a nice option to serve guests who all may have varying preferences. It’s for this reason that we’re still including it as one of our picks.
This next choice from Starbucks is a great option for anyone who already has an affinity for the brand. While there’s something to be said for exploring more interesting options and finding some unique flavors, there’s nothing wrong with going for the trusty option.
Starbucks does a remarkably great job of transforming their classic roasts such as this Café Verona into a decaf equivalent. Unfortunately, they use a process which relies on relatively intense solvents – but the end result is a product which still tastes pretty great and is not overpowered by any chemical effect.
We love the consistency of this choice but we are a little bit less-than-excited about the freshness. Because Starbucks is so large, they roast batches on a certain schedule and then warehouse the beans before filling orders. These does keep costs down, but this also means that you may be getting super fresh beans. It still may be worth trying your luck – but this is a factor to keep in mind.
This next option is our top pick for anyone who loves a Keurig machine. It’s hard to beat the simplicity of this brewing method – and this can especially come in handy if you’re entertaining guests. You may want to make some caffeinated coffee, while also accommodating guests who prefer decaf. This ability to brew one-off cups is quite convenient.
Much like our previous pick from Starbucks, this coffee from Peet’s comes along with the great feature of familiarity and consistency. Because they’re such a standardized brand, you’ll know exactly what you’re getting. If this is already a favorite for you, then you can dive in with confidence to this decaf alternative.
This dark roast has definite notes of caramel and wheat, with a hefty amount of bitterness. Overall, this is a great option for anyone looking for simplicity and a good deal.
While many of our above choices have been processed using the Swiss Water method (or similar wet-processing procedures) – this next pick from Coffee Bean Direct is actually prepared using the Co2 method. This alternative decaffeination procedure is relatively new in the world of craft coffee and this is an exciting chance to give it a try.
Proponents of this technique will argue that it preserves flavors, while detractors claim that that it’s simply more of a gimmick. Give it a try for yourself and see what you think.
In general, this roast is a great choice for anyone who likes darker coffee, but who is happy to find something that is shy of bitter. Coffee Bean Direct has done a great job roasting this to draw out taste, while not going too far and simply making it all bitter.
And lastly, we have a crowd pleaser. While many craft coffee lovers may scoff at Folgers brand coffee, this is surprisingly satisfying, and often the best choice for supplying an office, bringing on the go, or just pleasing a large family.
We love such a great deal and we love the Folgers consistency. Don’t expect any particular standout flavors, but do take comfort in knowing that every sip of this coffee will be satisfying.
The Black Silk roast is notable for its darker flavor – but also its smooth qualities. Overall, it’s a real pleasure to drink.
No matter your reasoning for purchasing decaf, you’re likely not looking to sacrifice on flavor. Of course, we all know what we like when it comes to regular coffee, so why not carry those expectations into the decaf world?
What to Look For
The crucial considerations in making your choice should be flavor and processing method. Flavor is personal, and so this is really best left up to you. You will want to look for decaf coffee that maintains strong, complex flavor.
Processing can vary endlessly. This may be the most important factor when it comes to choosing a decaf brand.
The most common processing method involves soaking the beans in water and adding a solvent like methyl chloride. This inexpensive method draws out caffeine compounds – but there are some concerns about health effects.
If your priorities are health and flavor, you may prefer the Swiss Water method. This less-common practice is generally more costly but doesn’t involve chemicals and is known to leave better flavors in the beans.
If you prefer decaf coffee, we have great news for you: there are quite a few delicious options on the market, so you won’t have to sacrifice flavor or put a strain on your wallet. We hope this guide, complete with in-depth reviews and a handy buyer’s guide, has been helpful in guiding your choice of decaf coffee.
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