“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
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.
Stay Away from Robusta Coffee
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.
Use a Darker Roast Level
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
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.
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
The biggest misconception about decaf coffee is that it does not contain caffeine. In fact, it does!
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
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. If you are keen to try a cold brew, here’s how to make it at home.