Best Decaf Coffee Beans in 2018

Decaf gets a bad rap in the coffee world.

Over the years, many of us have come to expect a flat, chemically-tasting coffee from decaffeinated beans.

However, thanks to the evolution of science and technology over the last 100 years, we are now able to happily enjoy a good cup of coffee without the caffeine.

We’ve rounded up our picks for the best decaf coffee beans this year, but first, let’s jump into to ‘Who, What, and Whys’ of decaf coffee.

How Do Coffee Beans Become Decaffeinated?

No decaf coffee is truly free of caffeine.

Depending on the method used to remove the caffeine from the beans, decaf coffee may have anywhere from 97%-99.9% caffeine content.

So while that is not a significant amount of caffeine at all, it’s good to be aware that it’s not technically caffeine-free.

There are four main methods of removing the caffeine from raw, green coffee beans:

Direct-Solvent Process

Indirect-Solvent Process

Swiss Water Process

Carbon Dioxide Process

How things have changed

Original decaf coffee was just “low-caffeine” and used only chemical methods of decaffeination, hence the bad reputation for a lack of flavor and bad aftertaste.

Over the years, the process of decaffeination has advanced enough that there are a few decaf coffees on the market that produce truly wonderful cups of coffee and rival some of the best regular roasts out there.

Most decaf coffee is produced using a solvent-based method, though most small-batch, artisanal roasters use the Swiss Water Process.

All of the coffees on our list and most decaf coffee are produced using Arabica beans because of their lower caffeine content.

Benefits of Decaf Coffee Beans

While we clearly believe that the coffee pros outweigh the coffee cons, we understand that high levels of caffeine intake are not good for everyone.

In fact, there a number of reasons why limiting your caffeine intake can be a good idea: sleep troubles, blood pressure issues, anxiety, upset stomach, etc.

Reducing caffeine consumption is particularly important for pregnant women. Decaf coffee is also lower in acidity than regular coffee, which is what causes heartburn or stomach pain in some people.

Taste and Brew Preferences

Keep in mind during your decaf coffee bean search that the ultimate factor in your decision is your personal taste (and health needs, if that applies to you).

Decaffeinated coffee beans are notoriously difficult to roast: they respond more erratically to heat than regular coffee beans and tend to roast faster and darker. This is one of the main reasons that finding quality-tasting decaf coffee is so difficult..

However, finding a decaf coffee that you enjoy should be much like finding any coffee roast that you enjoy. We’ve done the legwork for you, so read below to find out what we think are some of the best decaf coffee beans out there and why we think they’re so fabulous. 

The Best Decaf Coffee Beans in 2018

Cafe Don Pablo — Colombian Gourmet Coffee Decaffeinated

Don Pablo is a family-owned business with a heartwarming backstory that roast coffee beans in small batches for optimal freshness and quality.

While their beans are not fair trade, they do have their own Sharing Certified program and work closely with Colombian farmers.

This medium-dark roast has a full-bodied flavor with notes of caramel, cocoa, and a hint of citrus.

  • 100% Arabic beans decaffeinated using the Swiss Water Process
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    Single-origin, whole beans from Colombia grown in volcanic soil
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    Medium-dark roast, though some drinkers perceive it to be more of a dark roast
Jo Coffee—No Fun Jo Decaf

This is a USDA Organic Certified and Fair Trade Certified coffee with a full, rich flavor.

It’s a gourmet coffee made with Arabica beans and is an excellent choice for a chemical-free coffee that is good for the environment and for coffee farmers around the world.

No Fun Jo has notes of blueberry and milk chocolate and should be almost indistinguishable from regular coffee. It’s also a great option for anyone looking for a coffee that is lower in acidity.

  • Fair Trade Certified
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    Certified Organic (USDA)
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    Decaffeinated with Swiss Water Process
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    A little on the pricey side per bag (expected with artisanal coffee)
Fresh Roasted Coffee, LLC—Sumatra Decaf Organic

This is another great coffee out there proving that coffee can be decaf, organic, environmentally friendly and still have a full body and satisfying taste.

Fresh Roasted Coffee, LLC goes to a lot of trouble to ensure that their coffee is grown in harmony with nature and with justice to the farmers who work the land. The result is a bold medium roast with cupping notes of earthy, creamy, and baker’s chocolate.

  • Fair Trade Certified and USDA Organic
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    Swiss Water Process
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    Single origin from Bener Meriah Regency of Sumatra
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    No bitter aftertaste
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    A bit darker than a medium roast to many drinkers
Volcanica Coffee—Costa Rica Decaf Tarrazu

This single-origin roast is bright and well-balanced with chocolate undertones. Perhaps the most striking part of this coffee is the smooth finish and low acidity.

Volcanica is another company focusing on making great-tasting, gourmet coffee sourced ethically and sustainably.

Though we always recommend whole bean coffee that you grind yourself, Volcanica offers their coffee in three different grinds: drip, espresso, and french press. 

  • Medium roast that brings out smooth flavor without bitterness
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    Rainforest Alliance Certified
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    Decaffeinated with Swiss Water Process
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    Shade-grown in cool mountain temperatures of Costa Rica
Kicking Horse Coffee—Decaf Blend

This is exactly the kind of great coffee you would expect from Canada’s number one whole bean coffee seller.

Operating out of the Canadian Rockies of British Columbia, Kicking Horse consistently sells some of the best coffee on the market.

This blend from Central and South America is no exception: the dark roast has a nice aroma of chocolate and nuttiness and brews well with a variety of coffee makers.

The tasting notes for this coffee are roasted hazelnuts and a chocolatey balanced body. Kicking Horse is a bold coffee, so if you prefer lighter roasts then this is likely not the coffee for you.

  • Organic and Fair Trade
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    Decaffeinated with the Swiss Water Process
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    Kosher
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    Dark, bold coffee with full body
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    Available in both Canada and the United States
Koffee Kult—Colombian Decaf Coffee

As the name might suggest, Koffee Kult has a dedicated following of customers enchanted with the gourmet, small-batch roasts that come out of their environmentally-friendly roasting facility in Florida.

This single origin from Colombia has a heavy body with a bright, floral finish and an incredible aroma. While this is a medium roast, it is definitely on the bold side.

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    Decaffeinated with Swiss Water Process
  • Notes of dark chocolate with a hint of raisin
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    Small-batch roasting ensures high quality
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    Not certified organic or fair trade
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    A bit on the pricier side
Eight O'Clock Whole Bean Coffee—The Original Decaf

Eight O’Clock is the most affordable and readily-available option on our list. It also the oldest operating coffee company on this list as it was originally founded in 1859 as the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company.

This is a coffee name that you likely recognize if you grew up in the United States and makes an excellent option for a no-frills, everyday brew.

The rich, smooth medium roast produces a mild flavor.

  • Available at most grocery stores and much cheaper than other brands
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    Simple, mild-tasting medium roast
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    Decaffeinated with methylene chloride solvent-based method
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    Kosher certified
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    Not organic or fair trade
Stone Street Coffee Company—Mayan Water Decaf

A Brooklyn-based, artisanal coffee roaster, Stone Street partners with an organization called Sweet Unity to improve the economic livelihoods of rural coffee farmers.

The company is a favorite among native New Yorkers and this coffee roast is one of three decaffeinated options they sell.

The Mayan is a medium roast blend from Central America and delivers a smooth, low-acidity taste that is fairly mellow.

  • Rainforest Alliance Certified
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    Partners with Sweet Unity to ethically and fairly source coffee beans
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    Decaffeinated using Swiss Water Process
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    Micro-roasted in small batches
Wild Coffee—Lonestar Decaf Coffee

This premium coffee brand comes with a higher price tag but delivers on taste and quality.
This is a blend of light and dark roasted beans from Central and South America, resulting in a fresh, low-acid taste without bitterness. Wild Coffee also prides itself on being “mold-free” which gives their coffee a fresh flavor.

It’s important to note that while Wild Foods markets the coffee as “Decaf” on the bag, they actually refer to it as “low-caffeine” on their website

  • Fair Trade and Organic Certified
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    100% Arabica beans
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    Decaffeinated with Swiss Water Process
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    Much higher-end price point

Winner of the Roundup

Picking the “best” coffee is difficult when so much depends on individual tastes and preferences. Generally, all of the coffees listed here are high-quality roasts that cater to a variety of individual needs.

If we had to name a favorite, it might be the bold taste of the Kicking Horse.

The company has made a name for itself over the years by consistently producing excellent whole beans using ethical and sustainable methods of sourcing and roasting.

What we especially like about Kicking Horse is that it comes with all of the buzzwords of an artisanal roaster—fair trade, organic, kosher, Swiss Water processed, small-batch—but is actually fairly affordable. Of course, we wouldn’t say no to a good Koffee Kult or Volcanica roast either. 


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