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How to Reduce the Amount of Caffeine in Coffee?

24 March 2021
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“But first, coffee” – does this describe your mornings? For most people, coffee is an integral part of our morning routine. However, if a high dependency on caffeine is affecting your daily activities, it is a sign that it’s time to look for a solution.

Whether it’s for health reasons or simply a desire for a gentler caffeine experience, here’s how to continue enjoying your daily brew while reducing any unwanted side effects.

Change Your Brewing Method

espresso being extracted from an espresso machine
A single shot of espresso contains less caffeine content than a cup of French Press coffee. Photo from Burst .

As coffee is being brewed, hundreds of unique compounds are extracted from the grounds. Depending on your brewing method, the amount of compounds (and caffeine) extracted varies.

If you are looking to reduce your caffeine consumption, it is best to stay away from brewing methods that infuse coffee grounds in water. This includes the French Press, Aeropress, and filter coffee, which produce 60 to 100 milligrams of caffeine per standard cup (4oz).

On the other hand, an espresso shot from a coffee machine contains only 30 to 50 milligrams of caffeine on average.

Read more about how your brewing method affects caffeine extraction.

Stay Away from Robusta Coffee

arabica infographic
Arabica, the world’s most popular coffee bean, contains lower caffeine content than Robusta.

There are three main commercial varieties of coffee beans – Arabica, Liberica, and Robusta. Just like its name, Robusta coffee makes for a highly robust cup of coffee – not only in taste but also in caffeine.

With a caffeine concentration of approximately 2.7%, avoid or cut down drinking coffee made from Robusta beans. Instead, opt for Arabica beans (1.5% caffeine concentration) or Liberica (1.3% caffeine concentration), which will prove to be a more easy-going choice.

Learn more about the various types of coffee beans here.

Use a Darker Roast Level

a scoop of coffee grounds
When measured by volume, the same amount of dark roasts contain less caffeine than light roasts. Photo from Lisa Fotios.

Surprise, surprise! Did you know that coffee made from dark roasts contains less caffeine than lighter roasts?

Dark roasts get their colour from the longer roasting time. During that process, it loses its density. As a result, each particle of ground dark roast contains less caffeine than a particle of ground light roast.

This means that in a single scoop of coffee grounds, the light roast packs more caffeine.

Rule of thumb: Don’t measure by weight, instead, measure by scoop.

Adjust the Ground Size

coffee grounds in a glass jar
Although using coarse coffee grounds reduces the amount of caffeine in your coffee, it may risk under-extraction. Photo from Anastasia Eremina.

The finer the grind, the slower coffee is extracted. As a result, more caffeine is released during that process as the grounds are steeped in water for a longer period.

Using a coarser grind will reduce the extraction time and caffeine. Nonetheless, it’s not as simple as just using a coarse grind size all the time – different coffee brewing methods require different grind sizes.

Use this handy guide to find out the recommended grind size for your brewing method.

Moreover, using too coarse a grind may risk under-extraction and a sour brew. We recommend adjusting the grind size only if you are familiar with your brewing method and its best practices.

Need a coffee grinder with multiple grind size settings? Here’s a good one.

Reduce the Amount of Coffee Grounds

The golden ratio of coffee grounds to water is 1:17 (for every gram of coffee, 17 grams of water is used).

However, since the more ground coffee used, the higher the caffeine content in your resulting brew, experiment with a ratio of 1:18-20.

A series of trial and errors will be required to suit your taste preference while reducing the caffeine levels of your brew.

Try Decaffeinated Coffee

an old lady holding a cup
Need to reduce your caffeine intake due to health reasons? Decaf coffee is the solution. Photo from Claudia van Zyl.

The biggest misconception about decaf coffee is that it does not contain caffeine. In fact, it does!

Learn more about the common myths surrounding decaf coffee and why you should give it a try.

But fret not, to be categorised as decaf, around 97% of the original caffeine content must be removed. So if you are looking to reduce your caffeine consumption but still enjoy the taste of coffee, decaf might just be the best solution there is.

Reduce Brewing Time

The longer you brew coffee, the higher the level of caffeine in your beverage of choice. That’s one of the reasons why a French Press or Filter Coffee contains more caffeine due to their longer brewing time.

Just like brewing a cup of tea, steeping the coffee grounds in water for five minutes will extract more caffeine than a cup that has been brewed for two minutes. Based on the brewing time for these popular coffee makers, reduce the recommended time by 10-20% to get a less caffeinated brew.

Pro Tip: Reducing the brewing time excessively will risk an under-extracted brew.

Try Cold Brews

a glass of coffee with ice cubes
Cold brews are not only refreshing for a hot day, but also makes for an extremely mild brew. Photo from K8.

Caffeine levels are mostly influenced by these two variables – time and temperature. At cooler temperatures, caffeine is extracted at a slower rate and has 30% less caffeine than a traditional brew.

Moreover, if your stomach is reactive to coffee, here’s some good news – a cold brew is 67% less acidic than a normal brew.

Read more: How to Reduce Acidity in Coffee

If you are keen to try a cold brew, here’s how to make it at home.

This article features Dedica Conical Burr Grinder

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