You may be consuming more caffeine than you realize.
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Coffee is a much beloved drink around the world. It's in nearly every culture and cuisine type. But while plenty of people consume it for its taste, there are also those who enjoy the caffeine rush coffee imparts.

If you're caffeine sensitive but can't start the morning without a hot cup of coffee, then decaf coffee may be your go-to beverage of choice. However, you may be shocked to learn that decaffeinated coffee does indeed contain some caffeine.

Read below to learn exactly what decaf coffee is, how much caffeine is in a cup of decaf, and some tasty alternatives you can try instead.

What Is Decaf Coffee?

According to the USDA, any coffee labeled as "decaf" must not contain more than 0.10 percent caffeine based on the dry package weight. Coffee, which naturally contains high amounts of caffeine, reaches its decaffeinated state by going through a rigorous process, using one of three different methods:

The solvent-based process uses a trio of ethyl acetate, methylene chloride, and water to make a solvent that extracts the caffeine, but evaporates after the process to leave the coffee beans chemical-free.

The Swiss water process is the only method that's organic for decaffeinating, using osmosis to remove the caffeine.

And lastly, the carbon dioxide process, which is the newest and most expensive method, uses carbon dioxide to remove the caffeine while allowing other flavor compounds to remain intact.

A cup of black coffee on a wooden table.
Credit: MICHAEL LOFENFELD Photography / Getty Images

How Much Caffeine Is in a Cup of Decaf Coffee?

An eight-ounce cup of decaffeinated coffee contains between 2 and 15 milligrams of caffeine, according to the FDA. This is significantly less than eight ounces of regular coffee, which contains a whopping 80 to 100 milligrams of caffeine.

For comparison, an eight-ounce cup of green or black tea is around 30 to 50 milligrams of caffeine, and the average 12-ounce soda contains around 30 to 40 milligrams.

For most people, the amount of caffeine contained in decaf coffee won't affect your day-to-day life by giving you a boost of energy or keeping you awake at night. But if you're particularly caffeine sensitive, or anticipate drinking several cups throughout the day, it may be a good idea to switch to an entirely caffeine-free beverage.

Non-Caffeinated Alternatives to Decaf Coffee

If you're looking to cut back on caffeine, and don't want to risk the minimal amount that decaf coffee contains, then don't fret. There are several delicious options for hot beverages that won't overload you with caffeine.

Herbal tea is always a safe bet. Options like peppermint, ginger, chamomile, and hibiscus are caffeine-free. Just double check the packaging, as some teas are a blend of herbal and green or black teas, both of which contain caffeine.

Chicory root is made from the chicory plant, which is a member of the dandelion family. It's roasted, ground, and brewed as a caffeine-free alternative to coffee. Chicory "coffee" has a similar taste and appearance, though with a more pronounced woody and nutty flavor.

Golden milk tea is a classic at-home Indian remedy for a variety of ailments, from the common cold to congestion. It's made from steamed milk with turmeric (a powerful anti-inflammatory) and black pepper, though many recipes will add other ingredients like ground ginger and cloves for a boost of flavor.

Although it may sound odd, hear us out: Broth is a great replacement snack for the 2 p.m. pick-me-up coffee that you typically reach for. A cup of it will leave you feeling warm and satisfied, while still remaining caffeine-free.

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