Weather Updates

Is it OK to drink decaf coffee?

Beverage cup

Beverage in cup

storyidforme: 37905885
tmspicid: 14186230
fileheaderid: 6501759

Updated: November 18, 2012 6:04AM

Q. I prefer decaf coffee, but I’m not sure if it’s good for me. What can you tell me?

A. If caffeine gives you the jitters, you may opt for coffee that’s “de-buzzed.” But is this a healthy choice? Let’s explore.


While caffeine does have some health benefits, too much can be harmful, especially if you have a heart condition. For this reason, many folks opt for the decaf version of their morning (or evening) Joe. Decaf also can come in handy if you’re trying to break the caffeine habit. Pregnant women sometimes switch to decaf to keep their morning ritual somewhat intact.

Coffee also is famous for it’s antioxidant content. Some of the specific antioxidants vary depending on the type of coffee bean, but both decaf and regular provide some of these cell-protecting nutrients.


It may not affect the nutritional quality, but most would agree there’s a flavor difference between caffeinated and decaf. There’s also been some controversy over the safety of the decaffeination process.

Legend has it that back in the early 1960s and ’70s, potentially carcinogenic solvents were used to extract caffeine. But nowadays more natural plant-based solvents, plain water or CO2 (carbon dioxide) are most commonly used.

Despite efforts to strip all the caffeine, a small amount remains. Eight fluid ounces of decaf coffee from Starbucks averages 3 to 12 milligrams of caffeine; a cup of regular brew has 160 milligrams.

The verdict: Decaf will deprive you of caffeine, but that’s about it. If coffee without the buzz is the right choice for you, there’s no need to worry.

Courtesy Dana Angelo White

Scripps Howard

© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit To order a reprint of this article, click here.