Good morning, Smart Moms.
My friend, Alicia, can’t have very much caffeine because her body doesn’t handle it super well. Her heart starts racing, she gets heart palpitations, and it makes her anxious.
Not worth it for her.
She always gets decaf coffee when we grab a cup after yoga.
Today she commented: “I just really need my coffee fix.”
Which was met by my raised brow.
Fix? I don’t think decaf can give you a “fix.”
How could it possibly make a difference? I wouldn’t know. I never get decaf.
“What? Decaf has some caffeine. And it’s just enough to give me a little push without all the bad side-effects.”
Well that surprised me because I thought decaf mean “nocaf.”
Furthermore, she said it was great for helping with her headaches or migraines. Which makes sense because a lot of medications for those problems have caffeine in them.
But coffee is a lot tastier.
Even decaf coffee.
It got me thinking…this was something my smart moms should know about in case they couldn’t handle caffeine but still wanted that little help in the morning or with a headache.
Decaf can actually help!
Or, if they were trying to cut caffeine out completely, to know that decaf does not equal nocaf.
Most decaf coffee has about a “tenth of the caffeine found in an 8-ounce cup of regular drip-brewed coffee, which contains about 85 milligrams of caffeine” (or about 8.6-13.9 milligrams per 16oz serving). (1)
Federal regulations require that the caffeine content in the product does not exceed 2.5% of the entire product in order to be defined as decaffeinated. (3)
So it’s definitely not a lot. I mean you’d need anywhere between 5-10 cups of decaf to equal one cup of coffee. (1)
If you’re really trying to cut caffeine out completely, then it’s important to remember that decaf is not the same as caffeine-free.
Keryn Means, a writer on mom.me, points out that if you’re a regular coffee drinker you’re not going to notice the effects straight away (obviously!), but if you’re trying to wean off caffeine then decaf is a great place to start! (She also has similar issues with caffeine as my friend, so definitely check out her post if you find yourself in the same boat). (2)
This research got me really curious about how exactly the decaffeination process works.
Science behind this research:
There are four ways that this process occurs (3):
- Methylene Chloride Processing – A chemical solvent to get caffeine from natural materials. The materials are softened in water or steam and the molecules in caffeine bond to the molecules in methylene chloride.
- Ethyl Acetate Processing – Ethyl acetate is found naturally in a lot of fruits, therefore, the end result of this process is referred to as “naturally decaffeinated.” This process is the same as the previous one but with ethyl acetate working as the solvent.
- Carbon Dioxide Processing – Materials which have been water softened are pressure cooked with carbon dioxide. At the high pressure and temperature, the carbon dioxide is turned into a solvent. (This process retains the flavor better because the flavor molecules are bigger so they stay intact).
- Water Processing – Similar to the methylene chloride processing, but without the chemicals, extracting caffeine with water is done by soaking the material in hot water for a space of time. Then it’s passed through a coffee filter in order to remove the caffeine. (This process is mainly used for decaffeinating coffee).
It is also interesting to note that most of the caffeine removed in these processes are what we consume when we drink sodas or energy drinks. (3)
You learn something every day!
Hope this helps you out in your endeavors—caffeinated or otherwise!