Can You Use Decaf Coffee To Make Cold Brew Without Caffeine?


Decaf Cold Brew header image

You like the taste of cold brew but the caffeine content is a bit too much for you? Here’s what you can do.

You can use decaf beans or grounds to make cold brew just like you would with any other coffee. The brewing method is what makes it cold brew. The brewing method is also why normal cold brew is quite high in caffeine. For the best results and taste, use freshly ground whole decaf beans.

What is the best ways to get your low caffeine cold brew fix? Keep reading to find out.


Can you make decaf cold brew?

There is nothing magical about cold brew. You use coffee beans or pre ground coffee to make any type of coffee. What makes one thing espresso and the other thing cold brew? The brewing method. While beans, grind and roast certainly have an impact on the taste and feel, the brewing method is what makes the different types of coffee.

Cold brew uses ground beans like any other style of coffee. It’s just that cold brew naturally has a lot of caffeine because of the brewing method.

Since the brewing method is what makes cold brew what it is, the only other option to make decaf cold brew is by using decaf coffee. While the taste might be slightly different, you can make cold brew with decaf coffee just as well as normal coffee.

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Here are some things you should know before you grab the nearest bag of decaf.


Ground coffee

The easiest is to just use pre ground decaf coffee. If you’ve got a bag of decaf, you just make cold brew as you would with any other ground coffee. Just make sure you use a grind size and roast that’s suitable to make cold brew.

Pre ground coffee is the easiest and takes seconds to prepare. Just get the right ratio of grounds to water and wait for a while and you’ll have cold brew.

However, especially with decaf cold brew, there is something to be said for using fresh beans.


Fresh beans

If you’re making Decaf cold brew, it probably means that you really like the taste of it, but you just don’t want so much caffeine. Maybe because you want to drink it later in the day or you’re pretty sensitive to caffeine. Either way, it means that the taste is important for you, otherwise you’d just get another drink.

For that reason, it’s extra important to get high quality fresh beans. Freshly ground beans just have a much better taste than pre ground coffee. There are more and more decaf beans available and the taste has been improved over time as well.

Decaf used to mean you were significantly sacrificing taste. That’s not really the case anymore. I won’t say there isn’t any difference in taste but it’s worth the difference.

Because you’re making cold brew for the taste and fresh beans will give you a better taste, it’s absolutely worth it to go for fresh beans.

Grinding your own beans does take a little bit longer but, since you usually make cold brew in bigger batches anyways, it’s not that much extra effort per cup. The upgrade in taste is definitely worth it in my taste. This also goes for normal caffeinated coffee of course.

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Lower caffeine cold brew alternatives

Maybe you don’t want to completely get rid of all the caffeine but the normal cold brew is a bit too much. What can you do? There are a few ways you can lower the caffeine content of cold brew a little without getting rid of all of it.

Here are your best options;


Use Arabica beans

Although most high quality coffees are already mostly Arabica beans, it’s worth paying attention to this. Arabica beans are generally lower in caffeine than Robusta beans. Robusta beans have almost twice the caffeine of Arabica. So if you have been using a blend, going to 100% Arabica will lower the caffeine content.

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If you want to go a little deeper, you can also pay attention to the elevation the coffee is grown at. In general, the higher the coffee is grown, the lower the caffeine content. However, coffee beans that list at which height they’re grown are probably going to be more expensive single origin beans. While the taste will almost certainly be great, they’re also quite a bit more expensive.

If you get a general blend of beans, it’s unlikely it lists the elevation the coffee is grown at since it’s a mix from different farms.


Mix decaf and normal beans

You can also make your own blend. Blend your own Decaf and normal beans. This way you can really dial in the amount of caffeine you want.

If you mix the beans 50/50, you’ll have about half the caffeine content of normal cold brew. There might be a difference in extraction between the different coffees. It might not be exactly half but it won’t be too far off. So if you’d like to have much less caffeine but still a little, this is the way to go.

Just make sure to weigh both types so you can get a good ratio. Going by volume might not be as precise since one type of beans can be a bit heavier than others.

Of course you could also do this with pre ground coffee.


Add ice

If you’ve already made your cold brew and you discovered it’s a bit too strong for your taste there are still some things you can do.

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The first, simplest and most common thing you can add to your cold brew is ice. It fits perfectly with the drink and arguably makes it better. The ice will slowly melt and dilute the coffee. Just make sure you start with less cold brew to start with so you have less caffeine in total.


Add-ins

You can also make your cold brew even more interesting while diluting it a little.

I’ve outlined 12 add-ins you can add to your cold brew in this post (click). These add-ins make it taste like a whole new drink. The best options are probably a dash of orange juice and coconut juice. These things work well with cold brew. They extend and broaden the taste without covering up the smooth taste of cold brew.

Of course you can still use these add-ins with decaf cold brew as well.


Favorite cold brew tools

With these items, you will brew better cold brew

  • Grinder: Fresh beans have to be ground. A hand grinder like the Hario Slim (Amazon) is affordable yet effective hand grinder that will improve your cold brew.
  • Scale: The amount of grounds you use makes a big impact on what your cold brew tastes like. A simple set of scales will makes your brews more consistent. I’ve been using this one (Amazon) for over a year wit h great success. Not the most aesthetic but effective.

How much caffeine is in cold brew? Because of the long extraction time, there is more caffeine in cold brew than normal drip coffee.. A 16 oz. serving of cold brew has about 280 mg. of caffeine where the average cup of drip coffee has 100 to 150 mg of caffeine. However, for both styles the final caffeine content largely depends on origin, type of beans and roast as well.

Learn more about cold brew caffeine content here.

Can you make cold brew with extra caffeine? Cold brew is already pretty strong but there are ways to make the caffeine content even higher. Using Robusta beans is the easiest way to do this. Robusta beans have almost twice the caffeine of Arabica on average which will make your cold brew have almost twice the caffeine content. Another way is just adding less water.

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