It’s 8:00 pm on a Wednesday and all of a sudden, you have a craving for cold brew. And why not, the smooth, creamy taste is a perfect dessert-like drink.
But the cravings always come at in-opportune moments. And unless you’re planning to stay up all night studying or watching a Lord of the Rings marathon, drinking a tall glass of cold brew late at night is not a good idea.
That’s when decaf cold brew saves the day (or in our case, night.)
And, with no worthwhile decaf cold brew options available at the store, your best option is to make delicious decaf cold brew at home.
Thankfully, it’s super easy to do!
By the end of our guide, you’ll know:
- Why decaf cold brew is delicious (and how to choose the best decaf beans!)
- The benefits of drinking decaf cold brew
- How to make coffee shop quality decaf cold brew at home
Buckle up. You’re about to have cold brew all day and night.
Why Decaf Cold Brew is Delicious
Everyone’s heard the phrase, “Death Before Decaf.”
Devoted coffee drinkers jokingly (or seriously) say this to prove their commitment to coffee and caffeine. Heck, some people have even gotten tattoos of it!
But this statement is unfair? Why can’t decaf coffee drinkers enjoy the wide array of delicious and natural coffee flavors?
Spoiler alert: They can.
If you think about it, decaf coffee drinkers are the ultimate coffee fans. They drink the stuff, not for the caffeine, but the undeniably sweet and silky taste.
Decaf coffee, when sourced and roasted correctly, tastes brilliant. Specialty decaf coffee boasts the same fruity, chocolatey, and nutty flavors, silky-smooth mouthfeel, and vibrant acidity that fully caffeinated coffee has—all without the buzz.
Specialty coffee doesn’t need caffeine to blow your mind.
It’s All About the Beans
To be fair, there are some wildly unpleasant decaf coffees out there. One sip of these and you instantly know you’re not drinking specialty decaf coffee. It’s really easy to tell.
When your decaf coffee tastes bitter, grassy, or over-roasted, you’ve selected some bad beans, my friend.
For unparalleled decaf coffee, always look for these six things:
- Freshness – When was the coffee roasted? If it’s more than 30 days ago, choose a different bag. Coffee is freshest within 5-12 days after roasting, and is still at peak flavor for up to three weeks.
- Specialty Coffee – Sadly, most coffee brands over-roast their decaf beans to hide the fact they bought low-grade green coffee. Opt for decaf coffee beans from specialty coffee roasters that take the time to carefully source top-quality decaf green coffee and roast it to highlight the natural flavors (like us!)
- Flavor Notes – Coffee brands will also use purposefully vague flavor descriptors like “Bold” to disguise low-quality coffee as specialty coffee. Instead, search for decaf coffee with specific flavor notes such as red apple, orange, caramel, or walnut.
- Roast Level – Don’t forget to check the roast level too. Light roast decaf coffees tend to result in thin, watery cold brew while dark roasts can be too intense or even “chewy.” So, as Goldilocks discovered, a medium-dark roast is just right for making cold brew.
- Whole Bean Coffee – No one has a relentless craving for boring and dull decaf coffee. And, that’s what you’ll get if you brew with pre-ground decaf coffee. Instead, purchase whole bean decaf coffee and grind it right before you start to brew.
- Arabica Beans – There are two main types of coffee plants: Arabica and Robusta. While both are capable of producing specialty grade coffee when proper farming and cultivating practices are followed, robusta beans tend to have intense rubbery flavors. And, robusta beans have a far higher caffeine content than arabica. Opt for 100% Arabica decaf coffee beans instead.
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3 Critical Benefits of Decaf Cold Brew
On top of a delicious way to end the day, decaf cold brew has many hidden benefits.
1. No Coffee Jitters
While some of us can guzzle ten cups of coffee a day, remain level-headed throughout the day, and sleep like a rock at night, others experience severe reactions to caffeine.
Common side effects of caffeine include headaches, jittery hands, anxiety, dizziness, restlessness, and insomnia. AKA, not a good time.
Decaf coffee, regardless of brew method or roast profile, does contain trace amounts of caffeine. At most, decaf coffee has around 2 milligrams of caffeine. In comparison, regular coffee contains anywhere from 80-100 milligrams.
Decaf coffee is ideal for those who want to enjoy the flavorful attributes of specialty coffee without staying up until 3:00 am or dealing with a caffeine headache all day.
2. Decaf Coffee is Seriously Good for You
If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, so does a cup of decaf coffee.
Decaf coffee boasts a multitude of health benefits, including:
- Reducing the risk of cancer
- Decreasing the development of type 2 diabetes
- Improved heart health
- Preventing neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s
All of these health advantages are caused by decaf coffee’s antioxidants and nutrients.
Decaf coffee contains two key antioxidants: hydrocinnamic acids and polyphenols. These work to reduce oxidative damage and neutralize free radicals within the body which cause illnesses such as cancer and heart disease.
Decaf coffee also has critical nutrients like magnesium, vitamin B3, and potassium. While the small amounts aren’t enough to satisfy your daily nutrient intake, they do help in the long run!
3. It’s Tasty in Creative Coffee Drinks
Cold brew lemonade.
Cold brew cocktails.
Cold brew tonic.
There are so many creative drinks you can make with cold brew year-round. And, if you use decaf cold brew, you can drink them at 9:00 pm without worrying about insomnia!
How to Make Coffee Shop Quality Decaf Cold Brew At Home
Making decaf cold brew at home is seriously simple.
It doesn’t get easier than this.
It’s important to note that balanced coffee is typically made with about a 1:17 coffee-to-water ratio. To make cold brew, we cut that down to a 1:5 ratio to produce a concentrate.
We do this to ensure the cold brew has a creamy body and highlights the beans’ natural flavors rather. Otherwise, if cold brewed at a normal ratio, the drink would be watery, light, and weak.
Before consuming, the cold concentrate is cut with 2 parts water to bring the drink up to a desirable 1:15 ratio before adding ice (you can drink the concentrate straight… if you’re crazy).
Here’s everything you’ll need to make decaf cold brew at home:
- Device: big pitcher, mason jar, a Toddy cold brewer, or french press
- Filter: any coffee filter
- Decaf Coffee: 100g (20 tablespoons) — coarsely ground
- Water: 500ml (17oz) — cold
- Time: 12-18 hours
Step 1: Measure, grind, mix — Measure out the cold water and coffee beans. Grind the decaf beans on a coarse setting. Mix it all up in the device of your choice. Make sure every ground is evenly saturated with water.
Step 2: Wait 5 minutes and stir — Give the grounds about 5 minutes to saturate and bloom. Take a spoon or spatula and gently stir to submerge any grounds that have formed a ‘crust’ at the surface. Now cover with the brewing kit’s top, a lid, or plate.
Step 3: Wait 12-18 hours — This is the hard part.
Step 4: Filter your decaf cold brew concentrate — After waiting 12-18 excruciatingly long hours without coffee, it’s go time! Slowly pour the coffee through a coffee filter, separating the beverage from the spent grounds. Dispose of the grounds accordingly.
Step 5: Dilute and drink — Add 1 part decaf cold brew concentrate to 2 parts water, throw in some ice, and sip away.
Or, add the decaf cold brew concentrate to tasty iced drink recipes like a “Cold Fashioned” or cold brew soda!
How Long Does Decaf Cold Brew Last?
After brewing your decaf cold brew batch, you’ll need to store it in an airtight container such as a mason jar or Toddy in the fridge.
When made and stored properly, decaf cold brew can last up to two weeks in the fridge. But the freshest and most vibrant flavors will be evident within the first few days after brewing.
Decaf cold brew coffee doesn’t contain enough acidity to last more than 2 weeks in the fridge. Once you reach that 14-day mark, it’s time for a new batch.
Word of advice: If you’re a fan of adding cream, milk, or sugar to your decaf cold brew, do not pre-mix these into your cold brew and then store it. This slashes the shelf life to 1-2 days max!
Remember, It’s All About the Decaf Beans
The tastiest, smoothest decaf cold brew recipes all start with selecting the right decaf coffee beans. Otherwise, you’ll be sipping on stale, sour decaf cold brew. (Don’t do it. It’s utterly disappointing.)
Our decaf coffee offers a perfectly balanced flavor bursting with sweetness, nuttiness, and tanginess along with delightful graham cracker and semi-sweet chocolate notes.
Whether you end your workday with a smooth decaf cold brew or add it to your favorite coffee cocktail recipe late at night, our Decaf Roast hits the spot every time—without the caffeine jitters.