Decaf coffee has been thrown under the barista bus for quite a while. And perhaps for good reason, as for too many years, there was hardly an option in the field worth brewing. Alas, times continue to change and we’re now blessed with a broad range of decaf options.
The reasons for going sans caffeine are many, and while we love the fully loaded stuff, many of us like to take a break now and again. Sometimes, you just want the flavor of coffee without the extra kick. This is especially the case after a big meal that meanders into the wee hours, after which you just want to hit the hay. Other times, you just want some of the health benefits of coffee (the antioxidants, for example) without the jitters. For others, caffeine may inspire a bit of anxiety and just not be worth the risk.
It’s time for us to embrace the zero-content era of drinks, as they can be equally delicious. We’ve seen it in beer and we’ve seen it in spirits (try one of these mocktails and see for yourself). It’s true in coffee as well, as these 9 outstanding zero-caffeine varieties prove.
Best Overall: Onyx Columbia Huila
This outstanding blend from Columbia demonstrates what great relationships with growers and a sound process can do. It’s decaffeinated naturally, using ethyl acetate, meaning you hold onto all the flavor. It’s well-rounded, bright, and a little sweet, showing molasses, apple, and almond — a great cup for any time of the day.
Best Budget: Thrive
Thrive manages to put together a pleasant batch of organic coffee at a deal of a price. Made from Peruvian beans, this medium-plus roast shows cacao and graham cracker flavors.
Best Instant: Verve Vancouver
The instant decaf from Verve is layered, with notes of butterscotch and baking chocolate flavors. As the esteemed Santa Cruz roaster says, this ain’t your grandma’s instant coffee (it’s way, way superior).
Best Luxury: Koa Coffee 100% Kona
Koa manages retain the acclaimed smoothness of 100% Kona coffee in its decaf version. This is no small feat given the many off-tasting versions in the category. A sip of this will send you straight to a vacation on the volcanic beaches of the Big Island.
Best Pods: Peet’s
For a roaster on the larger side, Peer’s always seems to come through. These pods produce tasty decaf in a matter of minutes. It’s the brand’s flagship roast and tastes incredibly like its caffeinated cousin.
Best Espresso: Water Avenue El Toro
This darker espresso roast can be made into shots or an Americano or regular coffee, your choice. Whichever way you lean, you’ll be impressed by the fullness of flavor even with no caffeine in sight.
Best Single-Origin: Partners Ghost Town
Made in Brooklyn, this decaf stresses a single growing estate in Peru and spring water in its decaf process. The result is a lovely brew with hints of dates and white chocolate.
Most Flavorful: Greater Goods Low Strung
This company should be on your radar whether you like caffeine or now as its entire lineup is impressive. The Low Strung boasts Colombian beans and a creamy, Nutella-like flavor profile. Better still, the Austin roaster focuses hard on giving back to the community through some of its profits.
Best Canned: Quivr
This crushable option benefits from both a slow cold-brewing process for added depth and a nitrogen infusion for a soft texture. It’s great room temperature or, on warmer days, poured into a chilled glass with an ice cube or two.
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