Is Organic Decaf Coffee Bad for You?

One of our readers is concerned about making decaf from organic coffee. Is organic coffee bad for you and does it degrade the coffee to remove the caffeine? Years ago we wrote about decaf coffee risks.

The concern today with a decaf coffee risk is that decaf coffee contains greater amounts of two substances which are known to elevate cholesterol. Although kahweol and cafestol are both removed by coffee filters, not everyone uses a paper filter when brewing coffee. (Think French Press.) The two substances, kahweol and cafestol, are diterpenes, and they have been found to raise low density cholesterol and triglycerides by as much as twenty percent. The flip side of this concern is that the two substances also seem to have anti-cancer properties. Considering that coffee consumption is known to reduce the risk of liver, prostate, colon, and endometrial cancer, it cannot be all bad. So, is there decaf coffee risk with higher cholesterol levels? There is no long term risk that we know of for increased heart disease with regular or decaf coffee.

Kahweol and Cafestol

These are two virtually identical chemical substances. Food-info.net writes about Cafestol and Kahweol.

The concentration of these two compounds depend on the type of coffee; arabica beans contain both cafestol and kahweol, whereas robusta beans contain half as much cafestol and hardly any kahweol. In arabica beans they may be present in up to 1% of the total volume of the beans.

Cafestol raises serum cholesterol more potently than kahweol does. A mixture of cafestol (60 mg/day) and kahweol (51 mg/day) increased serum cholesterol only slightly more than pure cafestol (64 mg/day) did. Results with pure kahweol are not available due to difficulties with purification and stability of this diterpene.

Because these substances stick to paper filters they occur in lower concentrations in filtered coffee. Both paper filters and cloth filters remove significant amounts of both chemicals. And both of these substances also have anti-cancer properties as well and considering that drinking coffee reduces the incidence of various cancers perhaps having a little Cafestol or Kahweol in your coffee is not all bad.

Other Problems with Decaf Coffee

Positive Wellness lists a whole host of negative effects of decaf coffee. One of them is the residual chemicals from common decaffeination processes.

The most common method for decaffeinating the coffee beans uses chemical solvents that may leave a residue on the coffee seeds. Soaking the coffee seeds in several chemical solvents such as methylene chloride and ethyl acetate for about 10 hours may be the reason for this.  The beans are steamed again to remove most of the solvents. Be known that the FDA allows residues of these solvents to remain on the decaf coffee beans even after roasting.

Read the article for more info but remember that the reason you are drinking healthy organic coffee is to avoid all of those unwelcome chemicals that can be found in regular coffee. If you do want decaf remember that decaf is not caffeine free. Drink five cups of decaf coffee and you will get about the same amount of caffeine as one cup of regular java. And if you are really concerned about your cholesterol you might consider Robusta or simply use a filter when you make your coffee!


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