Decaf tends not to enjoy as cool an image as regular coffee, which sadly may have been bolstered by a few weak or bitter decaf lattes or americanos along the way. But much like with plant-based "mylks" or gluten-free pastries, times are a-changin'. In this article, we rank the top 10 best decaf whole beans, grounds, pods and instant coffees in the UK!
Whether it's a medical or a lifestyle choice, many of us are choosing to reduce our caffeine intake, or even cut it out altogether. Luckily, this handy buying guide is here to help you to find a top-notch everyday decaf without having to go to your local coffee shop to get your fix.
There are a few things to consider on the way to that Holy Grail of finding a delicious decaf coffee. From the coffee's origin and how it's processed, to your choice of single origin or blend, we'll cover it all in this section!
Whole beans, ground coffee, capsules or instant? Quite frankly it can be a minefield if you don't know exactly what you're looking for. Never fear! We are here to talk you through the pros and cons of each choice.
If you see yourself as a bit of a coffee aficionado, it's likely you'll want your decaf coffee as whole beans. This is the best way to get the absolute freshest cup of java possible, but you will need a grinder to create that precious dust we all love.
There are many ways to grind whole beans- with a handheld grinder, an electric grinder or with a pestle and mortar if you're desperate! As long as you can achieve a uniform grind that suits the coffee device you're using, you're all good my friend.
Ground decaf coffee, depending on which one you go for, is an excellent alternative to buying whole beans. Vaccum-sealed containers are amazing at keeping the freshness in, and as long as you use a clip or container to protect the coffee once opened, it will stay at its best for up to 2 weeks. Just make sure to store it at room temperature.
A great option for real coffee lovers, who would prefer to skip the hassle of a grinder, ground decaf coffee can recreate that coffee shop taste. Another bonus of buying decaf ready-ground is that it will have been produced using a specialist grinder to achieve the perfect grind for your coffee machine, moka pot or cafetiere.
Coffee capsules have become extremely popular over the last few years, mainly due to their consistent taste. As they are individually sealed you always get the same flavour, whether you prefer a latte, americano or espresso. As soon as you open a bag of ground coffee, its aromas and oils slowly start to disintegrate, unlike coffee capsules which are always fresh.
Coffee capsules may be popular, but they are also controversial. They are sometimes seen as spelling the death of barista artistry, or producing excess waste as some capsules cannot be recycled easily.
Coffee capsules may be seen as a slight step up from buying ground coffee, but can fall short of the expectations set by grinding your own beans. If you decide that capsules are right for you, make sure to choose ones that can be recycled with your household waste to help protect the environment.
When it comes to instant decaf coffee, it's not as respected as the ground stuff or the whole bean, but is an excellent choice in many situations. Want an easy work coffee without bringing lots of equipment in? Busy and need something quick but satisfying? Instant decaf might just be the one.
Instant decaf coffee doesn't have to be second-rate, providing you choose the right one. In fact, many people like its comforting, malty flavour that goes well with both milk and plant-based alternatives. Just as there's a perfect time for a barista level brew, instant decaf coffee definitely has its place too!
Just as with regular coffee, region is important in regards to finding a good decaf cup. Education is key to making the best choice, so read on for all you need to know!
Most of the coffees worldwide are produced in Latin America, due to its ideal growing environment of moderate sunshine and rain, high temperatures and porous soil.
Coffees grown in low altitudes like brazil produce nutty, sweet and less acidic coffees, whereas higher altitude coffees, such as in Columbia are full-bodied with medium acidity and caramel sweetness.
Some of the best coffees in the world come from African countries like Ethiopia, Kenya and Rwanda. Characteristically fruity, floral and complex, this coffee boasts high levels of acidity and a clean flavour.
A good decaf coffee blend is extremely likely to include coffee from African regions. And if it does, that's pretty much a seal of approval in itself!
With rich, fertile soil and a tropical climate, this region is known for having ideal coffee growing conditions. Coffees from Indonesia and the Pacific are known for having smooth flavours and medium acidity, often with earthy elements.
Contrary to popular belief, single-origin coffee is not always better than a blend. They both have pros and cons and provide slightly different coffee-drinking experiences.
Single-origin simply means that the coffee has come from just one farm or region. These are perfect for showing off that region's characteristics. Their exotic flavours are loved for their purity, but might taste a little too bold for everyday drinking.
A blend is made from beans from different regions around the world that are specifically chosen to balance out and complement each other. For example, a blend of coffees from Latin America, Africa and the Pacific would likely create the most ideal day to day decaf.
Robusta beans are grown throughout Africa, Southeast Asia, India and Indonesia and contain around 25% more caffeine than arabica beans. However, robusta has lower acidity levels than arabica, making it taste much less sweet. Due to its simpler make up robusta can produce flavours of burnt wood or rubber, making it the less desirable bean.
Despite the lower caffeine content, arabica is considered to be superior, making up around 70% of the share of coffee drinking. Arabica tends to have a sweeter, softer taste with tones of chocolate, fruit and berries. This combined with a higher acidity creates that winey taste we know and love.
The highest quality coffee will always be made with 100% arabica, which will be generally be reflected by the price. Cheaper, lower quality coffees will usually be made with a blend of arabica and robusta, or sometimes just robusta beans.
The Swiss water process uses water, temperature and time to create totally chemical-free decaffeinated coffee. Using small batches of green coffee and water local to the area, the time and temperature is monitored until the coffee is 99.9% caffeine-free, naturally.
This process and other similar natural water processes have become the most popular methods in creating decaf coffee without solvents or chemicals. It also preserves the coffee's subtle flavour characteristics for a complex and gorgeous decaf!
More and more of us are becoming concerned with how ethical our purchases are. For example, organic decaf coffee can be a great choice for the environment, but it doesn't come as standard and a large amount of high-grade speciality decaf coffees are not organically certified.
Often, both regular and decaf coffee will boast fairtrade or UTZ certification, but in truth, these schemes often provide such a low baseline price for the producers that it's debatable how fair they really are.
If possible, opt for a decaf that's fully traceable, or one in which the coffee company has worked directly with the farms. Union Direct Trade is a brilliant example of a scheme that strives for good working conditions and prices for farmers, ensuring livelihoods and sustainability.
Finally, it's time to introduce our top 10 favourite decaf coffees, ranked for their quality, credentials, and deliciousness. Featuring fabulous picks available on Amazon, eBay, Tesco and Waitrose, you're sure to find the best one for you!
|Bean Type||50% arabica, 50% robusta|
|Region||Honduras, Central America, Vietnam|
|Bean Type||80% arabica, 20% robusta|
|Region||Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Ethiopia, Rwanda|
|Water Decaffeinated||Similar, CO2 process|
|Fairtrade||Better- Union Direct Trade|
Taylors of Harrogate
Decaf Blend Cafetière Grind
Signature Espresso Ground Coffee
Fairtrade Decaffeinated Machu Picchu
Fairtrade Decaf Arabica Coffee
Definitely Decaf Ground Coffee
Fairtrade Organic Swiss Water Decaffeinated Coffee Beans
Swiss Water Medium Roast Decaf
Organic Decaf Coffee Capsules
Decaf Coffee Beans
Decaffé Ground Coffee
Speciality Decaf Coffee From a British Roasting Company
An Award Winning Decaf for Cafetières
Great Value Ethical Coffee at a Low Price
A Natural and Organic Decaf Coffee
A Smooth and Creamy Single Origin
Organic and Fairtrade Whole Beans
Full Bodied With Notes of Cocoa and Spice
100% Recyclable, Fairtrade and Soil Association Certified
Slow Roasted Coffee From Vietnam
Smooth and Malty With a Hint of Caramel
|Type||Ground||Ground||Ground||Instant||Ground||Whole beans||Ground||Capsules||Whole beans||Ground|
|Region||Rwanda, Sumatra||Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Ethiopia, Rwanda||Peru||-||Columbia||-||Honduras, Central America, Vietnam||Peru||Vietnam||-|
|Origin||Blend||Blend||Single Origin||-||Single origin||Blend||Blend||Single origin||Single origin||Blend|
|Bean Type||Arabica||Arabica||Arabica||Arabica||-||-||80% arabica, 20% robusta||-||50% arabica, 50% robusta||Arabica|
|Water Decaffeinated||Similar, CO2 process||Yes||-||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
|Fairtrade||Better- Union Direct Trade||No||Yes||Yes||-||Yes||No||Yes||No||No|
If you hold the holy bean in as high praise as we do, you've come to the right place! For the coffee connoisseurs, or those just wanting to get the best cup possible at home, we have plenty more articles to share. For the best coffee making equipment in the UK, check out the links below.
Well there you have it, decaf coffee certainly does not have to be the boring choice. Hopefully we've inspired your hunt for the perfect decaffeinated cup, whether that's whole bean, ground or instant!
Author: Melanie McPhail
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