Does great decaf exist?
May 27, 2010 11:18 AM   Subscribe

Inspired by this question, anyone have recommendations for great decaf coffee beans?
posted by The Dutchman to Food & Drink (15 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Guess I should add that in caffeinated varities I tend to like darker roasts (e.g. french roast) and standard "Columbian," if that actually has any real meaning.
posted by The Dutchman at 11:20 AM on May 27, 2010

I've never tried mail order, so these are all suggestions I can find locally.

I've heard great things about Peet's Major Dickason's Blend, but I still haven't got round to trying it myself.

Starbucks Caffe Verona is okay, but I like the decaf Sumatra better.

I've never had a bad decaf from Whole Foods, which I believe are from Allegro Coffee.
posted by elsietheeel at 11:31 AM on May 27, 2010

I don't have a specific answer to the question, but the Good Eats episode about coffee briefly took up this topic. According to Alton Brown, the decaffeinating procedure that many producers employ really does a number on the beans and, as a result, you need to start with REALLY high quality beans if you want decent decaf.
posted by proj at 11:34 AM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

I treated myself to Peet's Major Dickenson's Blend and it is helping me feel less deprived when I switch to decaf after my one morning cup of caffeinated.
posted by ansate at 11:41 AM on May 27, 2010

The Trader Joe's French roast whole bean house decaf is pretty good, although I'm usually half-and-halfing it with the regular stuff to make a half-caf.
posted by deadmessenger at 11:45 AM on May 27, 2010

To further add confusion to this quest for good decaf, it would be good to know how the beans were decaffeinated. I know I should pay more attention to this when I buy decaf beans... but, sadly, I don.t :(

Hopefully, some of the answers to your question will touch on this with good recommendations!
posted by 2oh1 at 11:46 AM on May 27, 2010

This New York Times article reporting on a new interest in decaf coffee has some recommendations.
posted by Xalf at 11:53 AM on May 27, 2010

Have you considered roasting your own?
It is incredibly simple with an old air popcorn popper (turns out the temperature to pop popcorn is quite similar to that needed to roast coffee. The benefits are:
  • It's fun
  • It's simple
  • It's fresher (by weeks or months from store bought beans - magnitudes fresher than anything pre-ground) so you taste it in your cup.
  • You control the length of the roast (darkness).
  • You can try different varieties of coffees to roast from around the world
See: Decaf bean selection at Sweet Maria's

Roasting with air popcorn popper links: 1, 2, 3 (YouTube).
posted by spock at 12:11 PM on May 27, 2010

From Ms. Vegetable:
Intelligentsia's Black Cat Decaf Espresso. Had some this morning in our fancy aeropress. Yes, we are coffee snobs, and oh my, it's DELICIOUS.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 12:12 PM on May 27, 2010

Nthing Peet's Major Dickason's Blend. Their decaf French Roast is also quite good. I used to order from them mail order when I lived nowhere near a Peet's, and can say the quality through mail order was still great.
posted by freezer cake at 2:18 PM on May 27, 2010

Caribou Coffee has decent decaf (disclaimer: I work there). They use the water decaffeinating method.
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:51 PM on May 27, 2010

I'd say no. I drink both decaf and regular depending on what's going on in my life. American style drip decaf is universally horrible. I usually mitigate this by either brewing espresso to make an Americano, or using a toddy cold-brew system. These seem to make the decaff a lot more palatable.
posted by chairface at 3:44 PM on May 27, 2010

I don't often drink decaf, but when I do, I drink Peet's Decaf French Roast. [/smug commercial voice]

Seriously, I like my coffee black and really strong, and Peet's Decaf French Roast is really good. It doesn't taste like decaf, it just tastes like good coffee.

For drip coffee, I follow their suggestion and use 2 table spoons of beans per brewed cup.
posted by mosk at 4:33 PM on May 27, 2010

Benbow's Coffee Roasters, Bar Harbor, Maine
or 1-800-4-BENBOWS

If I were to compare their decaf to their regular, yes there is a difference - but it would be 9000x better than almost any other coffee decaf or regular you will have in your life.

This is coffee where if you are the type to clean your coffee maker, replace filters, and use purified water you aren't wasting your energy.

I recognize I'm biased. I make an annual trip to get a few pounds. It makes you appreciate good coffee. While I do drink regular coffee, principally, I've had a pretty decent amount of their decaf in direct contrast to the same in decaf.
posted by Nanukthedog at 4:44 PM on May 27, 2010

Ok, a bunch to try! Thanks!
posted by The Dutchman at 1:54 PM on May 28, 2010

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