Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to coffee. Some people enjoy the taste of a dark roast, others like iced coffee or espresso. I will only drink strong, black, fresh coffee. That’s my jam.
But what if you are looking for something that is less caffeinated? And, you want it quickly, or maybe your circumstances dictate that the only equipment available is a cup and a spoon. No coffeemaker of any type. Okay, got it. The search is on for the best instant decaf coffee!
This type of coffee is made with the same beans as regular, but they have been processed differently so that most of the caffeine has been removed and only flavor remains. In this post we’ll be discussing everything there is to know about decaf instant coffee including what it tastes like, how it’s made, and any health benefits! And of course, we’ll highlight the best varieties of instant decaf available for 2021.
How do we come up with our ‘best of’ list? Honestly, with time, and attention to detail. We scour the internet world, discover what’s available, and filter out the brands that don’t make the cut. Then, we study the features and benefits individually for those that look promising, comb through the reviews and actually read them, to identify the pros and cons of each brand as identified by real-life users. From there, we identify the top…the best…the most consistently rated higher…and present them to you.
By the way, if you click on a link and then decide to make a purchase, we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you!
- The Best Instant Decaf Coffee: Our Short List
- What Exactly is Decaf Coffee, Anyway?
- How is Decaf Coffee Made?
- Turning Decaffeinated Coffee Beans into Instant Coffee Powder
- How to Make Instant Decaf Coffee Taste Better
- Are There Health Benefits to Drinking Decaf Coffee?
- The Best Instant Decaf Coffee to Drink in 2021
- Conclusion – Best Instant Decaf Coffee
The Best Instant Decaf Coffee: Our Short List
If you really want to know what’s on the list, here is the quick version. We’ll go into more detail below, with the highlights of each. You’ll note that this list is not rated or ranked, and we do that for a reason. All of our recommended brands are well-rated and loved by many decaf coffee lovers, and, we are all unique individuals with our own preferences.
Check out the list here, the detailed reviews below, and see which brand (or brands) speak to your coffee palette!
- Starbucks VIA Instant Decaf Italian Roast Coffee Packets
- Folgers Classic Decaf Instant Coffee Crystals
- Mount Hagen Organic Freeze Dried Instant Decaf Coffee
- Steeped Coffee Eventide Blend Swiss Water Decaf
- Republica Organic Decaf Instant Coffee
- Highground Organic Instant Decaf Coffee
What Exactly is Decaf Coffee, Anyway?
What does it mean when coffee is decaffeinated?
Decaffeination is actually a process that removes caffeine from coffee beans at least 97% to be specific. The average cup of decaf coffee contains about 3 mg of caffeine, compared to a regular cup of coffee, which contains about 70-140 mg. of caffeine. By the way, decaffeinated products may be labeled as decaf, de-caffed, or half-caf.
Decaf coffee is made from the same beans as regular, but it’s processed differently so that the majority of caffeine has been removed and the flavor remains. Decaffeinated coffee can be classified in three ways: decaffeinated with chemicals (usually through a process of methylene chloride), natural or organic methods, or water-processed method.
Let’s look at those methods in a bit more detail, because, why not? A little bit of decaf education is a good thing!
How is Decaf Coffee Made?
How is the caffeine removed from those little coffee beans? There are several ways to accomplish this. Here is a simplified version:
- Decaffeinating coffee beans with chemicals is the most popular process. Natural and organic methods are both made by soaking the beans in hot water to remove caffeine, although they use different ways to filter out all traces of chemicals from the product.
- The natural method of decaffeinating coffee is done by soaking the beans in hot water. The caffeine is drawn out into the water and left behind as a residue on the coffee bean’s surface, while all of the flavor remains inside. This process can take up to two days before it’s completed.
- The organic method for removing caffeine from coffee beans uses carbon dioxide instead of chemicals. This method is preferred by coffee connoisseurs who have a particular interest in the healthfulness of their coffee. The process is completed within just one day, without any chemicals being used at all.
- The carbon dioxide method for decaffeinating beans, also called the Swiss Water Process, requires that they be put into an atmosphere where only CO emissions are present. This sounds a little odd, I know, but what actually happens is that the CO gas extracts flavor and caffeine from the beans in a way that doesn’t alter their taste. The process of removing caffeination takes place very quickly, because decaffeinated coffee doesn’t need to be heated or roasted like regular coffee does. This speeds up production time considerably – usually it will take around 12 hours to have finished
Turning Decaffeinated Coffee Beans into Instant Coffee Powder
Decaffeinated coffee beans are made into instant coffee with the help of a process called “solvent extraction”, which removes all traces of caffeine and other volatile chemicals from the beans.
How is the process of solvent extraction accomplished?
The solvent extraction process is a fairly straightforward one. All it requires are the coffee beans, water, and an organic compound that’s at least as dense as water- such as citric acid or ethanol – to dissolve in. It can take up to 12 hours for the solvent extraction process to finish.
Once the solvent has been fully extracted from the beans, they are dried and ground up into a powder. That’s what we expect to see when we open the can, bag, jar, or packet of instant decaf coffee!
Some instant coffee, decaf included, is freeze-dried. That is accomplished by taking the coffee extract and freezing it to about -40 degrees Celsius, then cutting it into granules. Then, the frozen granules are dried at a low temperature and under vacuum to protect the aroma and flavor of the coffee.
How to Make Instant Decaf Coffee Taste Better
If you want to get the most enjoyment out of your carefully selected best instant decaf coffee, start with a quality, well-rated brand. You’ll find a great list of those right here! Then, follow these simple steps:
- grab your favorite coffee cup or mug and pour 1 tablespoon of cold water into it
- add your instant decaf coffee of choice and stir well
- add hot water (195 to 200 degrees) to fill the cup or mug
- stir again and let it sit for about 30 seconds
What is the secret to using cold water? Well, if you’ve ever noticed that instant coffee, decaf or regular, has a powdery taste or consistency, that is because the granules were added to hot water, causing the amylum (a type of starch) contained in the granules to harden. Placing the coffee granules in cold water first allows them to dissolve in a gentler way, reducing or eliminating that result.
Are There Health Benefits to Drinking Decaf Coffee?
Coffee, decaffeinated or not, offers some nutritional benefit to those of us who choose to drink it. Coffee is known for providing antioxidants, and the decaf version provides that as well, just slightly lower (about 15%).
Antioxidants can help prevent diseases like heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes.
A cup of decaf coffee also contains a small amount of nutrients, based on the daily recommended intake:
- 2.5% of niacin (vitamin B3)
- 4.8% of potassium
- 2.4% of magnesium
Although more research is needed, it seems that both regular and decaf coffee may have positive effects on age-related mental decline.
Decaffeinating your morning brew can help you avoid over-caffeination which can lead to some unpleasant side effects like heart palpitations or headaches. It’s also a great way for people who might have trouble getting to sleep, like nurses or new parents, to enjoy their cup of joe without the jitters.
The Best Instant Decaf Coffee to Drink in 2021
- decaf Italian dark roast
- roasty and sweet
- rich deep flavor
- notes of carmelized sugar
- sustainably sourced coffee
- 100% Arabica beans
- single serve packets
- no bitter aftertaste
Starbucks VIA line of coffees (there are more than a few) are made with 100% natural roasted coffee, using a proprietary patent-pending technology to preserve the coffee’s taste, quality, and freshness. As a self-proclaimed coffee snob, I have tried VIA coffee and to be honest, I was surprised at how tasty it was, with a depth of flavor I was not expecting from an instant type of coffee.
- Made only with high-quality arabica coffee beans
- Starbucks VIA Instant Decaf Italian Roast Coffee is roasty and sweet with a rich, deep flavor and notes of caramelized sugar
- Just tear open a packet of Starbucks VIA Instant Decaf Italian Roast Coffee, add hot water, wait 10 seconds and stir. No coffee machine or grinder needed
- Create great-tasting beverages with these single-serve, ready-to-brew packets. Enjoy them anytime, anywhere--in an instant
- Includes 1 box of 50 packets
- decaf medium roast
- easy open flip-top jar
- 99.7% caffeine-free
- can be prepared with water or milk
- coffee beans are double-dried for a deeper, more even taste
- rich aroma
- blend of Arabica and Robusta beans
Sing it with me…the best part of wakin’ up…these folks have been roasting coffee since 1850, so they know something about the process. Satisfied Folgers instant decaf fans say, “best instant decaf ever!”, “surprisingly good”, “a stand out instant coffee”, “good flavor and value”, and many more that are similar.
- Contains 1 - 8 Ounce Easy-Open Flip-Top Jar of Folgers Classic Decaf Instant Coffee Crystals
- Delicious taste and rich aroma of Folgers medium roast coffee, ready in seconds — no coffee maker required
- Decaffeinated coffee that’s 99.7% caffeine free lets you enjoy The Best Part of Wakin’ Up, even when you’re already awake enough
- Folgers instant coffee crystals can be mixed with hot water or milk
- Makes up to 120 suggested strength 6 fl oz servings per canister
- Organic & Fair Trade
- Blend of coffee beans from Papua New Guinea, Peru, and Honduras
- 99.9% caffeine-free
- Arabica beans
- freeze dried for better taste
- award winning organic coffee
- glass jar
Mount Hagen coffee is processed in Germany and distributed in the U.S., with natural processing (no chemicals) that results in great-tasting instant decaf coffee. Loyal customers say that the taste is anything but weak or watered down, and is surprisingly good!
- MOUNT HAGEN: The trailblazer of organic Fair Trade coffee production, the conscience of the global coffee industry
- AWARD-WINNING: Mount Hagen consistently tops lists of best instant organic coffees
- HOUSE BLEND: Fruity depth of Papua New Guinea combines with nutty subtleness of Peru and warm spice of Honduras in this sophisticated blend
- CAFFEINE-FREE: We extract 99.99% of the caffeine, careful to preserve the depth and aroma of our coffee
- GLASS JAR: 3.53 ounces of Mount Hagen Decaf coffee for home or office use
- Steeped coffee (think tea bag!)
- Swiss Water process of decaffeination
- Hand roasted and freshly ground in small batches
- Gluten free
- no extra plastic packaging
- tasting notes of blackberry, molasses, graham cracker
- Ethiopian origin
So simple: just fill your mug with hot water, dunk a Steeped coffee bag for 15 seconds, then steep for 5 minutes. After that, just enjoy! If you’re open to trying a different method of creating a tasty cup of decaf coffee, consider this option from our friends at Steeped Coffee.
- JUST ADD WATER: Single Serve Coffee the way it's supposed to be. Add Steeped to 8oz of Water, Dunk for 15 seconds to get light crema (like a French Press) and Steep for 5 minutes = Enjoy. Pre-portioned consistent SCA recommended water-to-coffee ratios
- 100% ETHIOPIAN GOURMET COFFEE: Swiss Water Process is from the Sidamo region in Ethiopia, 1,700 - 1,900 masl in Elevation. Ethically sourced directly from farmers and roasted locally in small hand roasted batches. Tasting Notes: Blackberry, Molasses, Graham Cracker
- NO EXTRA PLASTIC PACKAGING: No machines, pods, equipment results in a single serving of coffee that is truly a simple cup
- A PATENT PENDING" FRESHNESS: NITRO SEALED Removes oxygen so the freshly grinded coffee taste is instilled in each Steep Serving + ULTRASONIC SEALED: clean edges with maximum coffee volume that eliminates use of glues and staples
- BARISTA APPROVED: Tested and approved by multiple independent specialty coffee Q-graders for freshness, quality, and taste. Why is Steeped So Good? Our Process Spares No Shortcuts: Consistent water-cooled grinding + FULL IMMERSION Non-GMO FILTER that regulates ideal water-in and maximum flavor-out
- Certified Organic & Fair Trade
- Medium roast decaf
- Smooth, with caramel notes
- Freeze-dried coffee crystals
- Signature glass jar is made from recycled materials
- Woman owned and operated
You might try Republica Organic Decaf instant coffee for the benefits of decaf. Consider then the clean, chemical-free, organic and Fair Trade production, environmentally friendly packaging, and high quality coffee beans, this might become your new favorite!
- DELICIOUS & SMOOTH INSTANT COFFEE: Enjoy every velvety sip of our gourmet and ethically sourced South American instant decaf coffee with its smooth caramel & medium-bodied flavor –the connoisseur’s coffee in an instant.
- ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY: Our instant decaffeinated coffee comes in a signature glass jar is made from recycled materials so, unlike instant coffee packets, it locks in the freshness and aroma of the medium roast, sustainably sourced 100% Arabica beans, plus it is better for the environment.
- CERTIFIED ORGANIC & FAIR TRADE: Our organic instant decaf coffee is completely chemical free, certified fair trade, and organic. We use coffee beans that are grown naturally and without any pesticides for a South American fair trade instant coffee you can take pride in enjoying.
- MAKE IT TO YOUR PREFERENCE: Make your coffee in an instant by simply adding 1-2 teaspoons of our organic freeze dried coffee crystals to your cup and add hot water to your taste! Each jar contains 100 grams/3.53oz for your enjoyment.
- ETHICS WITH IMPACT': This mantra is at the very core of our philosophy. We have created a range of products that deliver wonderful flavors, aromas, delicious tastes and exceptional quality whilst never compromising on our ethical stance.
- Medium Roast Decaf
- Organic & Fair Trade
- Product of Spain
- Freeze-dried to enjoy hot or cold
- 100% Arabica beans
- Sustainably sourced
If your search for the best instant decaf coffee must include organic, Fair Trade, and freeze dried, give a nod to Highground Organic. Some customers note that the flavor is a little milder, so that could be a plus if you enjoy a lighter overall coffee taste. Or, just add more coffee for a robust cup.
- Ground from carefully selected organic Arabica coffee beans, roasted to perfection
- Fair Trade Certified for equitable and sustainable farming and labor practices
- Medium roast for a deliciously well-balanced flavor profile
- Product of Spain
- Gourmet instant decaf coffee made from 100% organic and fair trade beans for convenience without compromise
Conclusion – Best Instant Decaf Coffee
Decaf coffee is a great option for people who want to enjoy the taste of their favorite cup of java without the caffeine. And, it’s important to note that decaffeinated coffee does not always mean “weak” or flavorless, as you’ll note from the best instant decaf coffee brands that we’ve highlighted here/
Whatever your motivation for drinking decaf instant coffee, we hope you’ve found all the information you need right here to make the best choice for your coffee-loving palette!
- Decaffeination – Wikipedia
- How to Make Instant Coffee Taste Better – PureWow
- Decaf Coffee: Good or Bad? -Healthline
- Instant coffee (coffeeandhealth.org)
Candi Randolph is a coffee lover, blogger, and content creator who loves to share her knowledge with the coffee-drinking world. You’ll often find her tending to her coffee bar at home, deciding which method to use to brew her next cup of java. Life is full of important decisions. ☕