Decaffeinated Americano vs Decaf Coffee

During rush times, busy coffee shops often prefer serving decaf americano instead of your regular decaf coffee. And while this can be a randomly common practice, there are definitely some caveats to be pointed out.

In this article, I will define, clarify and rant a bit about serving decaffeinated Americano vs regular coffee.

Decaffeinated Americano Vs Decaf Coffee

Decaf Americano is an espresso made using decaf coffee beans and diluted with hot water until it adopts a similar look and volume to black coffee. Regular decaf is brewed using pour-over or drip coffee techniques.

A significant difference between the two methods is the preparation time; Pour-over takes about 5 minutes to make since there’s a necessary wait time until the water has properly filtered through the coffee grounds.

An espresso shot, on the other hand, can be pulled in seconds and served in no time. It is in fact a no-brainer, especially when made by an experienced barista who’s done it a hundred times before.

So, if you don’t have the time, you can definitely go with a decaf americano, and if you’re in the mood to sit back and relax, a pour-over might be right up your alley.

Taste Difference:

There’s virtually no significant difference between the two drinks. In fact, with negligibly higher caffeine content, and slightly more bitter flavor notes, Decaf Americano will merely taste like a dark roasted version of regular decaf coffee.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that you can’t tell the difference in taste at all, especially if you’re a regular coffee drinker.

Starbucks decaf Americano?

Starbucks decaf americano is made using espresso roast which incorporates a distinct flavor profile when compared to decaf pike used in regular coffee brewing.

So, you can definitely tell the difference between the two drinks, and you might even like the change. In any case, it’s worth giving it a shot, but that’s just a personal preference.

Starbucks sells several decaffeinated Americano drinks which can be ordered hot or cold and are a good substitute for a cup of black coffee.

Caffeine in Starbuck’s Decaf Americano:

Studies have shown that Starbucks decaf espresso shot contains around 3– 15.8 mg of caffeine while the regular decaf coffee sold by Starbucks has 12–13.4 mg of caffeine per 16oz serving.

Also, according to caffeine informer, Starbucks brewed coffee contains between 15 to 30 mg of caffeine, depending on serving size:

Caffeine per ServingStarbucks Brewed Decaf
Short (8 fl oz)15 mg
Tall (12 fl oz)20 mg
Grande (16 fl oz)25 mg
Venti (20 fl oz)30 mg
Caffeine in Starbucks Brewed Decaf

When compared to regular Starbucks caffeinated Americano, there’s a significant difference.

In fact, there is around 225mg of caffeine in the Grande size (16 oz, 3 shots) Starbucks Americano coffee. A 2 shot has around 150 mg of caffeine while a 1 shot has 75 mg of caffeine.

Serving Decaf Americano instead of Regular decaf

In general, coffee shops —and baristas prefer serving decaffeinated americano instead of regular decaf for two main reasons:

1. Prep time is lower:

Evidently, espresso shots are three times faster to make, and that’s especially handy during rush times. Not only that, but pour-over brewing requires regular stirring, effort, and attention from the barista to prep and successfully serve that decaf cup.

This is why opting for decaf Americano is like lifting a weight off their shoulder on a busy morning. Any other day, they’ll be happy to style that fancy decaf cuppa to your liking.

2. The return on investment is just not worth it

The demand for decaf coffee, in general, is really low. So it’s not deemed super beneficial for owners to invest in equipment and supplies that are just gonna sit there and barely be used.

Perhaps this will change in future days as the demand for decaf increases. But if you ask me, that’s still highly unlikely, as no matter how fast its popularity grows, the decaf coffee trend can barely scratch the surface of its caffeinated peer.

Definitely not outshining the overall need for that strong, full-bodied cup of caffeinated java, which keeps imploding year by year, just as fast, maybe faster.

The problem with serving decaffeinated Americano:

Americano can be an acquired taste, not everyone will be a fan, at least not straight away, you might grow to love it, but it can take some getting used to.

Additionally, espresso coffee is by default more costly to make, and therefore more expensive than regular style coffee. So if you order a decaf, and are served with a decaf americano, expect a narrowly higher price for the drink.

In such a case, your barista will inform you of the discrepancy to anticipate on your bill, either that or the coffee shop will just sacrifice the difference in price, charging you the same amount for a decaf americano.

It’s a win-win situation because you technically save everyone the time and hassle.

Having said that, I think it’s unethical for coffee shops to just go ahead and charge you for a decaf americano instead of the regular decaf you asked for without even informing you.

If this happens, you have all the right to speak up about it, especially if you hate the taste of espresso coffee.

Will Decaf Americano replace Regular decaf?

Serving decaf americano instead of pour-over is becoming more and more acceptable since both parties will welcome the change to save some time, especially if the customer is in a hurry.

That said, pour-over or drip decaf will always be regarded as the traditional, regular version of decaf coffee.

How to make decaffeinated Americano

To make a cup of decaf Americano using decaf coffee beans, you need to prepare a shot of espresso first. For this, you need an espresso machine or a Moka pot to help you in the preparation process.

The process is quite simple. The machine can be automatic or manual depending on how involved you want to be and the level of control you wish to have. F

or the manual espresso machine, you will have to do everything by yourself. For the automatic machine, you just press a button and the machine does almost everything for you.

For a beginner, it is better to use an automatic machine but for coffee experts and baristas, a manual machine is preferable because you can twitch everything to your liking.

A single shot of espresso requires around 7 grams of coffee grounds. Make sure you measure out the coffee grounds depending on the amount of coffee you want to brew.

You can use a kitchen scale to weigh your coffee grounds in order to make sure you are using the exact measure. Grind the coffee beans thoroughly to get the finest coffee grounds for the tastiest coffee.

Fill the finely ground coffee in the portafilter and use your finger or a coffee distributor to spread them evenly, then comes the tamping, which needs a lot of attention, especially if you’re using a bottomless portafilter.

Start an empty cycle with the machine for a few seconds before placing the portafilter to clear out any grounds that might have been stuck there.

Lock the portafilter softly in its appropriate place within the espresso machine and put your favorite mug or mugs underneath.

Push Start and wait for about 25 to 30 seconds. By then, you will have a regular shot of decaf espresso. This shot should turn into decaf Americano by adding some hot water.

You can get these Starbucks espresso roasted beans from your coffee store or online.

Decaf Espresso Explained:

An Americano is just an Espresso mixed with hot water. As simple as that. When you take Espresso coffee and mix it with a cup of hot water, you get coffee that is popularly known as an Americano.

Caffeine is an addictive natural stimulant contained in several other plants in addition to coffee. Caffeine has numerous effects and that makes it both useful to some people and harmful to others.

The fact that coffee beans have been decaffeinated does not mean that they do not have caffeine. It simply means that the caffeine concentration has been significantly reduced.

Most decaffeinating processes have an effective rate of between 85 and 98%. This means that between 85 and 98% of caffeine will be removed after undergoing the rigorous process. This leaves 2 to 15% of the caffeine in the coffee beans.

Caffeine usually has some negative effects on some people. Therefore, decaffeinated coffee becomes an option in this case.

Studies have shown that around 12% of coffee consumed across the globe is decaffeinated. This does not mean that it does not contain caffeine but the caffeine concentration is greatly reduced.

An 8 Oz (Around 237 ml) cup of coffee contains around 95 mg of caffeine content. To put it into perspective, a shot of espresso contains around 63 mg of caffeine content.

However, decaffeinated coffee contains only a small percentage of caffeine. This means that although the decaffeinating process does not remove all the caffeine content, it significantly reduces it without affecting the taste of coffee.

The person enjoying a cup of decaffeinated coffee will normally have the same feeling as the person enjoying a cup of normal coffee.

The decaffeinating process is carried out using a variety of methods. The most common method involves using a chemical solvent, usually ethyl Acetate or Methylene Chloride.

The coffee beans are steamed and rinsed using the chemical solvent repeatedly. However, the flavor in the coffee beans is also flushed out and dissolved in water and it has to be introduced back.

The processes differ but the whole idea is to extract the caffeine from the coffee beans while maintaining the taste.

Can Americano be decaffeinated?

Yes, Decaf coffee does not depend on the style of brewing but rather on the coffee beans. If the coffee beans are decaf, the resulting drink will be decaf irrespective of how they are brewed.
That means that every Latte, Mocha, Flat White, Espresso, Cappuccino, Mocha, Macchiato, etc. can be decaf.

Final Thoughts

 Coffee is the second most consumed beverage in the world after tea. However, when it comes to Coffee, things can be a little bit complicated.

The terms can be confusing, the processes too, the styles of preparation so different, and machines complex to use. Even for most coffee fanatics, it is still a learning experience. You cannot exhaust everything there is in the coffee world.

The climax of the confusion comes when you talk about decaffeinated coffee. The term Americano is also similarly complex for beginners to understand.

ALl in all, decaf Americano is very easy to prepare and it should surely be on your list of drinks to prepare. It takes less time to make and is therefore suitable when on a journey.

You need an espresso machine or a Moka pot to be able to make the Decaf espresso at home. As a beginner, it is advisable to get an automatic machine.

Reference: McCusker RR, Fuehrlein B, Goldberger BA, Gold MS, Cone EJ. Caffeine content of decaffeinated coffee. J Anal Toxicol. 2006 Oct;30(8):611-3. doi: 10.1093/jat/30.8.611. PMID: 17132260. Link to the study

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