First of all, it should be understood that trying to choose the five best anythings can be an extremely difficult task, when there are so many good candidates on the market. Decaf coffee pods are certainly no exception to that rule, especially since some recent trends have contributed mightily to the problem. Just a couple of decades ago, the world seemed to suddenly become obsessed with coffee-drinking, and it became almost mandatory to stop at your favorite coffee shop in the morning before going to work.
Think about the long lines you see at drive-through coffee vendors in your community. In many cases, it’s not just morning coffee they’re purchasing either – fill-ups seem to be necessary throughout the day as well, if the long lines are any indication. Then another development occurred which contributed to the present difficulty of choosing best in category coffees – the invention of the K-cup brewing system.
As you might expect, the inventor of this system was the Keurig company, and they launched the first K-cup products in 1998. Almost immediately, the product soared into prominence and captured the public fancy. It’s hard to beat the convenience of brewing your coffee by just popping a pod into place in the brewer and waiting a minute for the finished product. Still, it would not have dominated world coffee shops if the end product itself had not been outstanding. As it is, K-cup brewed coffee is generally excellent, and can compete favorably with almost any other brewing system currently in use.
Many people insist that the best decaf K-cups are still those offered by Keurig, but there’s no doubt that the market has now been flooded by a very strong field of competitors. This of course, is in response to the extraordinary demand for quickly brewed high-quality beverages.
Why Listen To Us? Well, because we KNOW coffee! In fact, we make our own coffee, coffee machine cleaners, and reusable capsules which we've sold to over 41 countries. Our team ouf experts include Tristan (an engineer), Claire (a food writer) and Richy (a barista). So, whether you're looking for a recipe or repair guide, we've got you covered 💚
Table of Contents
What is Decaf coffee and how is it made?
Coffee beans contain natural amounts of caffeine when they’re growing, and some people like having this caffeine in their morning drink, because it’s a mild stimulant and gets them going for the day. However, some people are actually bothered by having this caffeine present, because it makes them anxious or jittery. This is especially true of someone who drinks a great deal of coffee every day, spurred on by office complications or other work issues.
Decaf coffee has had most, or all of the caffeine filtered out of it, so the resulting beverage will not cause any anxiety or stress in the consumer. It has pretty much the same flavor, but the jitters have been removed from the beverage. Most coffee companies have proprietary processes for removing caffeine from their coffee, so the way any particular decaf is made will vary from one maker to the next.
However, there are four primary methods currently in use for extracting caffeine from coffee. Here are the four methods:
- Solvent-based decaffeination – the solvent in question is methylene chloride, which has been demonstrated to be far safer and healthier than previous solvents that were used in the past. When coffee beans are mixed with this chemical and heated to 104 degrees Fahrenheit, it causes the methylene chloride to be vaporized, along with the caffeine. What’s left are only the natural flavors and oils from the original beans.
- Ethyl acetate decaffeination – this process calls for coffee beans to be soaked in water for up to three hours, which causes caffeine, oils, and flavor to be extracted from the beans. The water then gets put in another tank and is vigorously scrubbed with ethyl acetate, and this absorbs the caffeine, leaving behind only the oils and flavors.
- Carbon dioxide decaffeination – after coffee beans are soaked in water, they’re placed in an extraction vessel, which then gets sealed and subjected to pressure from liquid carbon dioxide. The whole mixture then gets transferred to an absorption tank, at which point the carbon dioxide evaporates, leaving all the caffeine behind.
- Swiss water decaffeination – the Swiss water process is unique in that it adds no solvents or chemicals to the coffee beans to accomplish decaffeination. Instead, it calls for coffee beans to be soaked in very hot water, which dissolves the caffeine out. After this water is processed through a charcoal filter, it gets combined with another tank of water which has been processed similarly, but which has all its flavor and oils intact.
Why should you drink decaf coffee?
One of the main reasons that people drink decaf coffee as opposed to regular coffee is the fact that it won’t have any impact on your heart and will not give you the jitters (because it has little or no caffeine). Anyone who is subject to having heart palpitations, arrhythmias, or other heart malfunctions could be negatively impacting their health by continuing to drink caffeinated products. Since decaf typically only contains trace amounts of caffeine, none of these negative impacts apply.
Does Keurig make decaf coffee capsules?
Yes, it does, and it’s still one of the best decaf k-cups on the market. There is less caffeine in its K-cups than most other brands which are compatible with the K-cup brewing system. The average 8 oz. cup of coffee from most competitors of Keurig will have about 5.6 mg.of caffeine included in their decaf products. By comparison, Keurig itself only includes about 4 mg. or caffeine in its pods. So, if you’re looking for a really healthy decaf alternative, you may want to go right to the inventor of the K-cup and start drinking Keurig decaf.
Are there alternative brand decaf K-cups?
Absolutely. In fact, the market is becoming more crowded all the time, in response to the worldwide craze for great-tasting coffee, brewed in the easiest possible manner. A few of the alternative brands include McCafe, Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks, Peet’s, Green Mountain, Newman’s Own, Kirkland, Community, Death by Chocolate, Tully’s, Maxwell House, Folger’s, Twining’s, and Eight O’Clock. There is an insatiable demand for K-cups, both caffeinated and decaffeinated, so it’s likely there will be even more competition in the marketplace in the near future.
The most popular Decaf K-cups on the market
Anytime a list like this is presented, it must be understood that those products making the list for the best decaf k-cups were considered superior as measured against the criteria used for evaluation. In the case of our list, we considered pros and cons, pricing options, taste and aroma, intensity, environmental friendliness, and what the brand itself actually stands for.McCafe Premium Roast Decaf – this decaf makes our list on the strength of its affordable cost, coupled with superior flavor. Another benefit is that it is packaged so as to be completely recyclable. The 100% Arabica beans offer outstanding taste and aroma, and it comes with 84 pods in a package. McCafe has made major improvements in its flavor and all-around appeal in recent years, and it must now be considered against the major players in the industry.
1. Dunkin’ Decaf Medium Roast Coffee
One of the big appeals of this decaf product is that you can buy it plain, with chocolate flavor, or with a distinct nutty flavor. Dunkin’ Donuts has long been a household name, and the brand is closely identified with donut dunking and great flavor. The medium roast is a little less intense than the dark roast, and that suits us just fine.
2. Starbucks Decaf K-Cup Coffee Pods
Starbucks Decaf K-Cup Coffee Pods is a rich, gentle flavor is noticeable from this drink from the very first sip. It comes in toffee and coffee flavors, so you can mix it up in the morning when you’re looking for a pick-me-up. Starbucks is a company that has earned the trust of millions of coffee drinkers, both for its standard coffee varieties, and its specialty flavors.
3. Gevalia Signature Blend
Gevalia Signature Blend is a light roasted coffee which has been sourced from the finest beans worldwide. Flavor and aroma are locked in by using slow-roasted, snap-cooled Arabica coffee beans. The pods are compatible with all Keurig 1.0 and 2.0 brewing systems.
4. Caribou Coffee Caribou Blend Decaf
You’ll instantly notice the syrupy flavor, and the strong finish of tasty, bittersweet chocolate. It is environmentally friendly, being Rainforest Certified, and is compatible with all Keurig single-serve coffee makers. There are 96 K-cups included with each package, so it will last you a while after you’ve made your purchase.
5. Peet’s Coffee Decaf House Blend
This is a dark roast decaf that most consumers appreciate for its smooth, satisfying sweetness. Beans are grown at high altitudes and maximum flavor is retained during processing. Compatible with all K-cup brewing systems, Peet’s uses natural water processing as its primary production process to ensure high quality is delivered in each K-cup. Peet’s has also demonstrated a sense of commitment to communities where their beans are grown, becoming involved in improving local infrastructure and community involvement. The K-cup pods are fully recyclable, so the product can be considered a sustainable one.
6. Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Hazelnut
If you like the taste and aroma of hazelnut, you’ll love this entry from Green Mountain. As the company name suggests, their coffee beans are grown at high altitudes to take advantage of the pure flavors that are eventually delivered to users. The company has committed itself to 100% responsible sourcing for its beans, and that is great news for many consumers. The sweet, somewhat buttery flavor appeals to a very wide audience, and also contains a hint of warm, roasted nuts. All the major allergens have been excluded from the production mix of this outstanding decaf.
7. Folgers Colombian Coffee
These K-cups are fully recyclable and are compatible with all Keurig single-serve coffee makers. The aroma and flavor are that of Arabica medium roast beans, with a rich and lively flavor throughout. There are 72 pods in a package, so you won’t have to keep buying coffee all the time. The Folgers brand has acquired a reputation of being very attentive to the wants and needs of its customers, and that has resulted in this deeply satisfying Columbian decaf product.
The 5 Best Decaf Keurig K-cup capsules (our 2023 favorites)
Ok, so here’s the deal. We hate those long listicles where products are ranked “First” or “Runner Up” with no real rhyme or reason. When we tried these capsules I loved the ones with big flavors that felt like you are drinking a real coffee, while Claire said her favorite was the ethically sourced beans by Starbucks.
So instead, we’re going to share with you what we think the best decaf k-cups are based on what you’re looking for in a coffee cup.
Best overall – Caribou Medium Blend Decaf.
Best overall – our top choice for the best decaf k-cups overall goes to Caribou Medium Blend Decaf. It delivers a rich, full-bodied flavor and the aroma is irresistible when brewing. You’ll be intrigued by the sweet and spicy berry notes detectable in its flavor, and it has a finish that will evoke images of bittersweet chocolate. It also answers the bell to the sustainability and environmentally friendly factors. It is Rainforest Alliance Certified, and is also Orthodox Union Kosher, so it has broad appeal.
Caribou Medium Blend Decaf
- Delivers a rich, full-bodied flavor
- The aroma is irresistible when brewing
- Sustainability and environmentally friendly
- Rainforest Alliance Certified,
Best value for the money – McCafe Medium Premium Roast
Best value for the money – the winner in this category was an easy choice, because it is a clear winner in terms of affordability as well as superior taste and aroma. The McCafe Medium Premium Roast has everything you want from a decaf beverage, including a rich aroma, smooth body, and a strong finish. Everyone loves the McCafe drink they purchase at the familiar fast-food stores all over the country, and now you can have that same familiar, comfortable flavor brewed right in your home. High-quality Arabica beans are used in the brewing, so a consistent, reliable product is always produced.
McCafe Medium Premium Roast
- High-quality Arabica beans are used in the brewing
- Affordable with superior taste and aroma
- Purchase at the familiar fast-food stores all over the country
- A consistent, reliable product
Best tasting – Folger’s Colombian Decaf Medium Roast
Best tasting – our winner in the ‘best tasting’ category might surprise you, but after careful deliberation, we had to anoint Folger’s Colombian Decaf Medium Roast as our favorite flavor among all K-cup products. This was a difficult choice, but Folger’s includes a blend of very rich, very active flavors that linger on the palate long after the beverage itself has disappeared. The Colombian coffee beans have a very definite influence on the quality of this decaf.
Folger’s Colombian Decaf Medium Roast
- Includes a blend of very rich, very active flavors
- Made of Colombian coffee beans
Most sustainable – Starbuck’s Decaf House Blend
Most sustainable – the most sustainable winner is Starbuck’s Decaf House Blend. On the strength of its commitment to ethical sourcing, and its partnership with Conservation International, this decaf wins the sustainable prize. It’s good to know that some companies have more in mind than simple profitability when marketing high-quality products, and that they are also taking care of the environment.
Starbuck’s Decaf House Blend
- Has a strong commitment to ethical sourcing
- Medium roast coffee with notes of cocoa and toffee
- A blend of fine Latin American beans
- 100% Arabica coffee
Best for dunking – Dunkin’ Decaf Medium Roast Coffee
Best for dunking – this was a no-brainer choice, with the winner being the champion ‘dunker’ coffee of all time, Dunkin’ Decaf Medium Roast Coffee. Once you’ve brewed your Dunkin’ Decaf, you’ll love dipping your favorite donut or cookie into the beverage, so you can enjoy two great flavors at the same time. This is the same great coffee you can purchase at all the nationwide Dunkin’ Donuts stores, and that is just perfect for most people.
Dunkin’ Decaf Medium Roast Coffee
- You’ll love dipping your favorite donut or cookie into the beverage
- Purchase at all the nationwide Dunkin’ Donuts stores
- Smooth, delicious, and ready to brew