Decaffeinated coffee is not caffeine-free

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: January 16th, 2007
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Coffee addicts who switch to decaf for health reasons may not be as free from caffeine’s clutches as they think.

A new study by University of Florida researchers documents that almost all decaffeinated coffee contains some measure of caffeine.

UF researchers report in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology that caffeine, the most widely consumed drug in the world, reaches many people through a cup of coffee— even those who drink decaf because of certain medical conditions like hypertension.

The study found that people who drink five to ten cups of decaffeinated coffee a day could get a dose of caffeine equivalent to a couple cups of caffeinated coffee. That’s potentially problematic because even moderate caffeine levels can increase agitation, anxiety, heart rate and blood pressure in some susceptible individuals.

An average sixteen-ounce decaffeinated drip-brewed coffee sampled from nine national chains or local coffee houses contained caffeine ranging from almost nine milligrams to almost twelve milligrams a cup. In comparison, an eight-ounce cup of drip-brewed coffee typically contains eighty-five milligrams of caffeine. Decaffeinated espresso contained three milligrams to almost sixteen milligrams of caffeine per shot.

Researchers say that even though the amount of caffeine in these coffees is considered low, some people could conceivably develop a physical dependence on the beverages.

Despite caffeine’s widespread use, most medical texts have no guidelines for intake. Here’s a tip before you sip… because even low doses might adversely affect some people with a sensitivity to it, seek your doctor’s advice if you’re concerned.