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Whats the deal with mixing normal and decaf coffee in re overall caffeine levels?
August 17, 2011 11:18 AM   Subscribe

If I drink normal coffee in the day and decaf at night, I sometimes still end up feeling like I have drank too much normal coffee. Why is this?

It is almost like, when mixing the two, that the decaf is "reactivated" and works like normal coffee. Is this all just imaginary, in that, because I smell coffee when drinking decaf my brain doesn't connect that its decaf and psychosomatically* becomes wired? Or is the mixing of the two in the day/evening actually having an effect on the amount of caffeine in my body?

I am aware that decaf is not 100% decaf, but I do not drink much decaf, I generally drink Lemon and Ginger infusion in the evening.

* I know this is probably not the right word but I can't think of a better one.
posted by marienbad to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Did you recently switch the night-time coffee to decaf from regular? Your body might be pulling a placebo effect on you.
posted by griphus at 11:22 AM on August 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, how much caffinated coffee are you having during the day? I've heard that sometimes even a 4 pm. cup of caffinated coffee can keep you up if you've been having a lot.

I try to keep my high-test intake to no more than two or three cups a day at most. anything more than that and I stay up too, even if I mainline "sleepytime floral banquet tea" in the evening.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:47 AM on August 17, 2011


When are you actually drinking your regular coffee during the day? For some people having any caffeine after 1pm = bad news bears come nighttime.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 11:49 AM on August 17, 2011


Coffee contains theophylline and theobromine; both stimulants. Perhaps what you're feeling can be attributed to them and not the caffeine?
posted by burntflowers at 11:53 AM on August 17, 2011


Take a look at this chart of caffeinated beverages. It lists common caffeinated drinks with the dose of caffeine in milligrams for each serving size. There's a good possibility that you are simply having too much caffeine a day for your body, decaf or not (and tea still has caffeine in it).

If you've recently cut back or increased the amount of caffeine you drink, you could be experiencing withdrawal or jittery symptoms because of the sudden difference. As a side note, I don't know how long you've been drinking coffee, but is there any chance you could be allergic?
posted by dustpatterns at 12:29 PM on August 17, 2011


You can condition your body to associate coffee with stimulation, which is why even smelling coffee can perk a person up in the AM.
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:12 PM on August 17, 2011


There was also this that made the rounds a few years ago, though I can't say how credible the study is.
posted by Lorin at 1:14 PM on August 17, 2011


You may simply be getting more sensitive to caffeine over time. I used to drink a couple pots of tea a day. Now if I have more than two cups or even a cup too late in the day I fall asleep fine but wake up a few hours later. For me at least it's just OLD AGE.
posted by GuyZero at 1:26 PM on August 17, 2011


To answer some of the questions posed:

"how much caffinated coffee are you having during the day?"

"When are you actually drinking your regular coffee during the day?"

3 cups at work before 12. 1 in afternoon, around 2 - 3. Then one decaf at night.

"I don't know how long you've been drinking coffee, but is there any chance you could be allergic?"

A long time, so very unlikely.

"(and tea still has caffeine in it)"

The infusion is not tea.

Interesting answers, thanks everyone, not shure whether it is too much or just a placebo-like effect.

As a side note, we have large tins of coffee at work, and when I open one, and th efresh coffee smell hits my nose, I can almost smell cannabis. Has anyone else smelt anything like this? Or am I crazy?
posted by marienbad at 1:43 PM on August 17, 2011


This gizmodo article has some links to more info on the compounds in decaf coffee.
posted by aka burlap at 1:58 PM on August 17, 2011


I realise my body isn't your body, but I found that any caffeine after noon is bad news. Three cups in the morning is also a lot- but I just realised you're talking about american coffee (ie brewed) rather than an espresso based coffee.

However, at 4 cups of caf'd coffee, I don't think the problem is the decaf you're drinking at night. :)

(I also had to give up coffee because of the adverse side effects - like intensifying my anxiety attacks)
posted by titanium_geek at 8:09 PM on August 17, 2011


Coffee has other activating compounds aside from caffeine.
posted by OmieWise at 5:03 AM on August 18, 2011


Coffee contains theophylline and theobromine; both stimulants. Perhaps what you're feeling can be attributed to them and not the caffeine?
posted by burntflowers at 11:53 AM on August 17 [+] [!]


Yes. Theophylline is an ass-kicker, as is theobromine. They give little to no CNS stimulation, and lots of side effects- jitters, sweats, anxiety, etc.
posted by gjc at 6:21 AM on August 18, 2011


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