How to Make Decaf

How to Make Decaf thumbnail
People with health problems exacerbated by caffeine sometimes drink decaffeinated coffee.

Decaffeinated coffee (decaf) is regular coffee soaked in water prior to packaging to remove some of its caffeine. Though decaffeinated coffee contains considerably less caffeine that regular coffee, it retains between 10 and 20 percent of the original beans' natural caffeine. People who become jittery after drinking regular coffee sometimes find decaffeinated coffee more tolerable, as do people who develop stomach ulcers in response to regular coffee. People with heart problems often receive instructions from their doctor to consume only decaffeinated coffee. In spite of its health benefits, some coffee drinkers complain of its weaker flavor and reduced pungency.

Things You'll Need

  • 1 Tbsp. measuring spoon
  • Ground coffee beans
  • Paper coffee filter
  • Drip coffeemaker
  • Liquid measuring cup
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    • 1
      Drip coffee filters are very common among home decaffeinated coffee brewers.
      Drip coffee filters are very common among home decaffeinated coffee brewers.

      Place your paper coffee filter into the allotted space at the top of the drip coffee filter.

    • 2

      Measure the desired amount of ground coffee; use 2 generous Tbsp. for each 8 oz. of water. Alton Brown of The Food Network suggests heaping measurements because too few grounds can yield bitter coffee -- particularly apt advice, considering the reduced flavor of decaffeinated coffee. Experiment with this measurement to figure out how much you prefer.

    • 3

      Pour about 1 cup of cool water into your coffeemaker's canister for each heaping Tbsp. of coffee grounds. Reduce the amount of water for stronger coffee to taste, keeping in mind that decaffeinated coffee is not as flavorful as regular coffee.

    • 4

      Place your coffee pot in position over the heating plate and under the compartment containing coffee grounds. If you fail to do so, your coffee will spurt onto the heating plate as soon as you begin brewing and cause a big mess.

    • 5

      Turn on the coffeemaker to initiate the brewing process. Drip by drip, the water passes through the grounds and into the coffee pot. You will soon notice the coffee's rich aroma.

    • 6

      Wait until all the liquid finishes brewing. Some coffeemakers work more quickly than others, but plan for the process to require about one minute per cup. Do not touch or attempt to move the coffee pot while it brews or try to speed the process in any way; slow brewing is crucial to the development of coffee's strong flavor.

    • 7

      Turn off the coffee pot, and remove it from the coffeemaker's heated plate as soon as it completes the brewing process.

    • 8

      Taste your coffee. If it is too strong for your taste, slowly add hot water to taste to temper the flavor. Stop and sip the coffee every second or two to prevent watering it down too much.

    • 9

      Serve your decaffeinated coffee immediately, keeping in mind that coffee loses its flavor as it sits, and decaffeinated coffee doubly so. Coffee retains its flavor for only about one hour after brewing, so do not save it in the refrigerator or attempt to use it at a later point in the day.

    • 10

      Discard the paper coffee filter and dampened coffee grounds.

Tips & Warnings

  • Grind your own coffee beans in your home coffee grinder if possible -- the freshest and most flavorful way to make any coffee at home, including decaffeinated coffee. If you do not have your own coffee grinder, ask a grocery store employee to do it before you buy.

  • Avoid pre-ground coffee, as it yields bland, slightly bitter results.

  • Clean your coffee pot, lid and coffee filter container after each use. Wipe any grounds that linger out of the coffee pot.

  • Run 2 Tbsp. of white vinegar per six cups of water through your coffeemaker to remove mineral deposits that can ruin your coffee's flavor. Repeat every month or two.

  • If you dislike the taste of decaffeinated coffee, substitute half of the coffee with regular coffee grounds.

  • Drink your coffee from a ceramic mug for the best flavor. Paper, foam and metallic containers contain elements that slightly alter the coffee's flavor. Avoid using them when possible.

  • Try a French press instead of the coffeemaker for a faster brewing time. Use the same grounds-to-water proportions. This method yields good, but slightly more pungent, coffee.

  • Never attempt to remove the coffee pot in the middle of the brewing process to fill just one cup. If you fail to wait until all of the liquid finishes brewing before doing so, you will make a mess and risk serious burns.

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  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/ Images Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images

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