If you want to cut down on your daily caffeine intake, but still can’t resist a fresh cup in the morning, you may be facing a challenge. For this reason, you might find yourself asking the following question. Which coffee has the least caffeine?
The short answer is that decaf coffee has the least caffeine in it. Most decaf coffees are 97% caffeine-free. If you don’t want to drink decaf, we recommend watering down dark roast coffee. Dark roast coffee has less caffeine in it compared to lighter roasts.
But there’s a lot more that factors into which coffee has the least caffeine. In this guide, we’ll provide a detailed answer to this question.
Which Coffee Has the Least Caffeine?
Without a doubt, decaf coffee contains the least amount of caffeine when compared to other types of coffee. As we mentioned above, this coffee is about 97% caffeine-free, which makes it a good alternative to regularly-caffeinated coffee.
Still, some people would rather go for coffee that has naturally low caffeine. In this case, your best shot is to go for a single shot of espresso.
One shot of espresso contains about 48 mg of caffeine. On the other hand, one cup of drip coffee contains 95 mg of caffeine. So why do most people presume that espresso has more caffeine than other types of coffee?
The answer is that a single shot of espresso usually is associated with having a strong and bitter taste. Also, espresso has a large amount of caffeine per ounce, which is 30 – 55 mg.
Therefore, the main reason why espresso has the least caffeine is because of its serving size. A single shot of espresso can be 0.85 to 1 ounce, so that’s why it includes less caffeine than drip coffee. Also, studies have shown that caffeine takes time to be extracted from the coffee bean. And since espresso is brewed so quickly (usually 30 seconds or less!), a bit less of the caffeine makes it into the cup when compared to the same dose of beans brewed as a drip or filter coffee.
If you were to drink a double espresso instead, then you’ll have a much more similar amount of caffeine compared to a cup of drip coffee.
As you can see, a lot of factors can affect the caffeine content inside a coffee cup. Ready to get a bit more familiar with them?
Factors That Influence the Amount of Caffeine in Coffee
If you want to prepare yourself for a less-caffeinated lifestyle, you must have some in-depth knowledge of the following points.
Amount of Coffee
Author Note: It goes without saying that the coffee quantity that you consume each day has the largest effect on your caffeine intake. However, this doesn’t only depend on the serving size, but also the concentration of coffee itself.
See, various coffee beverages have different water-to-coffee ratios. So, the less ground coffee you use per drink, the less caffeine it should contain.
For instance, the lowest water-to-coffee ratio goes to espresso, which makes it the strongest coffee out there. Alternatively, drip coffee is the weakest, having the highest water-to-coffee ratio.
The serving size also plays a major part in your daily caffeine intake. If you drink 2-3 cups of drip coffee per day, you’ll get more caffeine than when you consume 2-3 shots of espresso.
Again, this is due to the fact that although espresso has more caffeine per ounce, a single shot is only 1 to 1.5 ounces.
Therefore, you should try to balance out these two factors before deciding which coffee has the least caffeine.
Coffee Bean Variety
The type of coffee bean itself has a huge impact on its caffeine content by nature. You should know that there are mainly two types of coffee beans that find their way into your everyday cup.
Those are Arabica and Robusta.
Arabica beans are more high-quality, not to mention that they’re more popular than Robusta beans. Also, Arabica coffee makes up about 60-70% of the world’s coffee production.
The majority of the remainder is Robusta coffee.
Now that we’re a little familiar with both, which one has more caffeine content?
It was found that a Robusta coffee bean has almost twice the caffeine content of an Arabica bean. If you want to lower your caffeine intake, you couldn’t have been luckier.
This is because Arabica coffee far outranks Robusta coffee in terms of taste, richness, and quality. Its flavor usually includes desirable fruity notes, not to mention that it’s highly aromatic.
Next time you shop for whole-bean or ground coffee, you’d better go for 100% Arabica coffee. Note that most instant coffees are made partially if not entirely with Robusta.
Coffee Roast Type
Last but not least, the coffee roast profile contributes a great deal to its caffeine content.
While you might believe that dark-roast coffee has more caffeine than light-roast beans, this isn’t the case. See, when coffee beans are roasted, they lose some of their mass and become lighter in weight.
Therefore, the darker you go, the slightly less caffeine there is inside your coffee beans. This argument is valid as long as you compare bean to bean. But what happens if you measure your daily intake of coffee by weight or volume?
Things could change a little bit.
Measuring Coffee by Weight
Because dark-roast coffee is lighter in weight, you’ll have more bean count compared to light-roast coffee of the same weight. If you’re a bit confused about this part, we’d be glad to elaborate.
Say that you take 15 grams of dark-roast coffee beans and 15 grams of light-roast beans. Here, the caffeine content in this amount of dark-roast coffee will be higher. It’s all because there will be more beans per 15 grams in your dark-roast coffee.
The bottom line is, if you measure coffee by weight, go for light-roast coffee beans. This is because, if you go by weight, dark-roast coffee will have 32% more caffeine.
Measuring Coffee by Volume
Using a certain scoop size to measure your coffee can change the scales a tiny bit. In this case, you’ll also get more dark-roast bean count per scoop than light-roast bean count.
However, the difference in bean count will be less here than it is if you measure your coffee by weight.
If you use a scoop to add coffee to your machine, dark roast coffee has 9% more caffeine.
Therefore, to go for the coffee with the least caffeine, always choose light roast coffee. Whether you measure it by weight or volume, it should contain less caffeine in both cases.
Which Decaf Coffee Brand Has the Least Caffeine?
Author Note: Most people don’t like decaf coffee because it lacks some of the richness you’d normally find in natural coffee. However, there are still some awesome decaf options out there worth trying. These coffees are a great choice if you want to have coffee after dinner.
- Kicking Horse Decaf Coffee
- No Fun Jo Decaf
- Costa Rica Decaf Tarrazu Coffee
- Eight O’Clock Decaf Coffee
Pro tip: You can always try to mix your favorite decaf coffee with a little bit of organic, light roast Arabica beans to create a nice blend. This way, you can still enjoy a rich taste without including too much caffeine in your cup.
Why Some People Seek to Lower Their Daily Caffeine Intake
In general, caffeine has a lot of health benefits. It can help prevent cancer, boosts energy levels, and is rich in antioxidants.
Yet, some individuals might need to cut down on their caffeine, which results in their search for coffee types with the least caffeine. So why is keeping caffeine to a minimum sometimes important?
Caffeine Allergy and Caffeine Intolerance
While rare, some people are allergic to caffeine. Others suffer from caffeine intolerance which is a bit more common.
Individuals who are sensitive to caffeine can face the following symptoms:
- Rapid heartbeat
- Upset stomach
- Difficulty falling asleep
Being allergic to caffeine has more troublesome symptoms. These include:
- An itchy rash that consists of many red bumps, which is also called hives
- Itchy mouth, tongue, and lips
- Swollen lips and tongue
After consuming too much caffeine on a daily basis, some people report a lack of good sleep at night. High caffeine intake can definitely affect sleep quality, making you sleep for only a few hours each night.
For this reason, many people have decided to ditch caffeine altogether or keep their consumption to a minimum.
High Blood Pressure
People with high blood pressure might be advised against drinking coffee. Since caffeine increases your heart rate, people with heart problems seek an alternative to coffee.
Some take their chances with decaf, others cut down on coffee entirely.
As you probably know, caffeine addiction is a thing. When someone stops consuming caffeine after depending on a certain dose every day, they tend to face withdrawal symptoms.
These signs usually start after about 24 hours since the last dose of caffeine:
- Fatigue or drowsiness
- Irritability or a foul mood
- Difficulty to concentrate on daily tasks
- Nausea, muscle pain, or vomiting
Author Note: As a means to get rid of this addiction, one could begin looking for coffee with low caffeine. Then, by minimizing your caffeine intake day by day, you can finally give up on it without struggling with withdrawal symptoms.
We hope we’ve answered your questions thoroughly in this article. To have a cup of coffee with the least amount of caffeine, you may want to go for lightly roasted Arabica beans.
Also pay some attention to the cup size, beverage type, and water-to-coffee ratio. By creating a nice balance of all these factors, you should get your ideal, low-caffeine coffee.
Of course, decaf coffee is always a great option, too. It might take you a while to find the best product, but you should find the perfect match eventually.
Stay (de)caffeinated friends!