Decaf coffee contains caffeine. Phew. There, it's finally
out in the open.
Actually, researchers have long known this, but people are still shocked to hear that
decaffeinated coffee actually does contain caffeine. In fact, there is enough
caffeine to get someone, like me, who does not have an IV of soda and coffee
hooked up to her arm a little boost each morning.
Decaf does not mean caffeine-free, which is the mistake many
people make. According to a WebMD
article, "If someone drinks five to 10 cups of decaffeinated coffee,
the dose of caffeine could
easily reach the level present in a cup or two of caffeinated coffee," researcher Bruce A. Goldberger, PhD, of the University of Florida said.
Clinic chart shows patients how much caffeine was in their coffee and tea.
Although the decaf numbers are much lower than caffeinated coffee, you still
get some in there.
Brewed, 8oz cup: 95-200mg of caffeine
Brewed, decaffeinated, 8oz cup: 2-12 mg of caffeine
So, why don't more people drink decaf coffee? For one
thing, it usually tastes pretty bad. Stripping coffee of caffeine requires a special process, which alters the flavor of the coffee. Your normal coffee turns from
beautifully rich, dark beans into something that looks like a darker version of
Honey Smacks (remember that old cereal?). However, if you can find a really
good roaster, like Zoka Coffee or Green Mountain Coffee, even a coffee snob can
enjoy a freshly brewed cup of decaf.
If I drank regular coffee and caffeinated sodas all the time this trick would not work.
Another question many people ask: Why both drinking decaf?
Well, for some of us, caffeine can have a negative effect on our bodies. I am
very sensitive to caffeine in beverages (thankfully, chocolate leaves me alone).
One cup of coffee on a normal day gets my heart racing, as if I've just run a
marathon. I'm jittery, start talking faster than most people can
handle, and I don't like how I feel. I love my morning coffee, but I just can't
handle a regular cup. So I drink decaf. The trace amounts of caffeine in
my decaf give me just the pick-me-up I need to get my kids to school and go on
my morning run. A second cup gets me through my morning of work while the kids
are at school.
That said, the biggest reason I hold back on my caffeine intake has nothing to do with the jitters. It's because I get
migraines. By keeping my caffeine levels low, I can use caffeine as part of
my treatment plan when a migraine does strike. Caffeine opens up your blood
vessels, which is what I need when I have a migraine. More open blood vessels means my medicine shoots
through my body faster. A can of soda or a cup of regular coffee gives me the
boost I need to continue to function, which is why medicines like Excedrin
Migraine have caffeine built into their formula. Instead of being a zombie after I take my
prescription medicine for my migraine, I can get back to normal a little faster
with the caffeine in my system.
If I drank regular coffee and caffeinated sodas
all the time this trick would not work.
Decaf coffee may not give you the mega boost you are hoping
for, especially if you are a regular coffee drinker, but if you slowly wean
yourself off the caffeine, and switch to decaf, you may find that your body
thanks you a little more each day. The jitters and the post-coffee crash
headaches that can show up in the afternoon will slowly fade.
I'm no doctor, but
the benefits I see as a decaf drinker far outweigh the benefits of a nice
regular cup of coffee any day. I get my kids to school and can still function, which is really all I need.