What Is The Difference Between Decaf And Regular Coffee?

Coffee is arguably one of the most popular beverages in the world. Many people love its aroma and taste, but want to restrict the caffeine intake due to some side effects. In this case, decaf coffee can be a great alternative. So, what makes this special type different from other regular coffee? This article takes a look at various aspects to give you a clear answer.

Caffeine content

The most obvious difference between decaf and regular coffee is the caffeine levels. Through the decaf process, at least 97 per cent of the caffeine can be removed from the beans before they are roasted and ground.

An average cup of decaf coffee contains between 5 and 10 milligrams of caffeine. On the other hand, a typical cup of regular coffee has around 70 to 140 milligrams of caffeine.

The exact amount can vary, depending on the brands, cup sizes, types of coffee beans, and processing or brewing methods.

Antioxidant and active substance levels

what is the difference between decaf and regular coffee

Most of us do not know that coffee is a great source of antioxidants in the diet. These substances can help reduce oxidative stress and minimize free radicals, which reduces the risks of many health issues like heart disease.

With or without caffeine, coffee is fully filled with many biologically active substances. These include hydrocinnamic acids, polyphenols, ferulic, chlorogenic acid, caffeoylquinic acid, and caffeic acid, and. They provide many health benefits as well as contribute to the aroma, taste, or colour of the drink.

There is no significant difference in the antioxidant levels between regular and decaf coffee. Both types suffer from a small loss in their antioxidant substances during the roasting or decaffeinating process.

Nevertheless, when you make a precise calculation, the loss in decaf coffee is usually higher, more or less 15 per cent. This is simply because the removal of caffeine might also cause these components to dissolve in water or solvents.

When it comes to the presence of antioxidants and active substances, caffeinated coffee is a better option than decaffeinated coffee.

pH levels and acidity

Another difference that many people are not aware of is that the levels of pH in decaf coffee are often lower than regular coffee. The change occurs during the soaking procedure. Most decaf products have pH levels between 4 and 5.

This suggests a high level of acidity that would lead to several side effects. Therefore, you should go for regular coffee in case you do not like the acidic taste or want to avoid a few digestive issues that are prone to acidity.

Keep in mind that the levels of acidity also depend on the types of coffee beans. Robusta beans are the most acidic category with higher caffeine content than Arabica beans and other categories. Therefore, they are able to hold more aroma and taste after the decaf process.

Too much acidity can be harmful to the body. It is linked to a few health conditions like high levels of cortisol, mineral loss, osteoporosis, or gastrointestinal disease. So, if you think that your body cannot handle these problems, it is better to restrict the consumption of decaf coffee to reduce the risk.

Taste and aroma

what is the difference between decaf and regular coffee

When it comes to taste, decaf coffee and regular coffee are not the same. Many aficionados consider decaffeinated products to be unnatural.

During the decaf process, coffee beans are soaked in water or solvents. This can extract most of the caffeine content. Since this component contributes to the bitterness of the drink, decaf coffee will not have the typical bitter aroma or taste like regular coffee.

But along with caffeine, many other components in coffee beans can be extracted during the decaffeination. They decide the aroma and flavour of the coffee. Therefore, the resulting cup can be a bit different.

While the opinions are mixed, many people agree that the difference can come from the low pH levels in decaf coffee, which results in a lack of acidic nature. Indeed, many people recognize a cup of hot coffee thanks to the acidity.

So, if you are a heavy drinker and love the strong taste of coffee, decaf products can be a shame. Which one is better can be a personal matter. But for me, regular coffee is definitely the winner in this competition.

Watch the following clip to see whether people can differentiate between regular and decaf coffee based on their tastes:

Decaf coffee versus regular coffee – which is better?

When it comes to lowering the hypertensive effects of regular coffee, decaf seems to be a great solution. With minimised caffeine content, you would still enjoy a tasty and flavorful cup without palpitations, digestive issues, anxiety, or restlessness.

Overall, decaf coffee is better for people with a low tolerance for caffeine. Also, those people with some medical conditions that require a caffeine-restricted diet can try it. This helps reduce the risk of interaction between the substance and prescription medications.

Additionally, decaf coffee is safe for breastfeeding and pregnant women, as well as people suffering from trouble sleeping or anxiety.

However, regular coffee offers some advantages over decaf coffee. The stimulant effects of caffeine can decrease tiredness and increase alertness. Also, studies have shown other benefits, including:

  • Improved athletic performance
  • Boosted fat burning and metabolic rate
  • Better mental function, memory, reaction time, and mood
  • Reduced risk of end-stage liver damage and cirrhosis
  • Lower risk of suicidal thoughts, anxiety, and mild depression

Depending on your conditions and preferences, each type of coffee has its own pros and cons.

The bottom line

To sum up, decaf coffee and regular coffee have approximately the same nutritional value. The main difference comes from the caffeine content. You might also expect some variances in colour, smell, and taste. This makes the decaf version a better choice for those who want to limit their caffeine intake.


  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10516914/
  2. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/decaf-vs-regular-coffee-taste_n_3430681

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