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This article was originally written on September 30, 2022.
If you love coffee but are looking to cut down on your caffeine intake like me, there are some a lot decaf coffee drink alternatives you may have forgotten about!
While caffeine can offer many benefits it can also be detrimental with folks who deal with various conditions such as migraine and anxiety. As I’ve written about in my previous post, caffeine can offer pain relief from migraine but can also cause rebound headaches which are terrible cycles to be caught in.
For many, having a cup of coffee is an integral part of their morning routine. When consumed consistently and at minimal amounts, caffeine can be safe and beneficial. However, oftentimes, when we are not mindful of how much we are consuming, we can end up downing more coffee than water.
Decaffeinated options often still contain caffeine but very little amounts. Please remember that everyone has a different tolerance and sensitivity level to coffee, especially depending on your specific conditions. Alicia, also known as The Dizzy Cook, has an amazing post on her favorite coffee alternatives below, where she also explains how decaf coffee is created. I highly recommend you read it if you find you are sensitive to even smallest traces of decaffeinated drinks.
For myself, I love coffee, so finding different decaf coffee drink options is extremely important to me and for my health. Back in college and graduate school I could easily find myself drinking all. day. long. I have gone through different phases in life when it comes to whether I drink caffeine at all. When I am drinking caffeinated beverages I try my hardest to be vigilant about how much I drink, when I drink, and eating food before I drink it. During times when I’m struggling with more or high levels of anxiety, I try to cut it out altogether.
While many of us have a habit of drinking coffee as soon as we wake up, sometimes even before a glass of water, this is terrible for our stomach and body in general. Caffeine can stimulate the production of stomach acid, which may lead to digestive discomfort and acid reflux. Drinking coffee on an empty stomach can also increase cortisol production, leading to heightened stress levels and anxiety. Because cortisol is also a hormone, this makes it more difficult to keep hormones balanced.
Another reason why I work to stick to these parameters is I find consuming caffeine can lead to other migraine triggers such as sleeping poorly, not drinking enough water, skipping meals, and not taking enough breaks. If I stick to a decaf coffee drink, I might not get the typical pick me up that caffeine generates, but I know I’m serving myself better in the long run.
Here are my favorite decaf options at Starbucks and beyond:
1. Decaf Cappuccino (Iced or Hot)
This drink has been my go-to, both iced and hot, for quite some time now. Starbucks unfortunately no longer offers iced cappuccinos on their menu, but luckily Dunkin’ still offers it. I am also grateful to have a fantastic bakery nearby that makes the best cappuccino I’ve probably ever had, decaffeinated or not. I love to throw in flavors whether hot or cold but especially vanilla, hazelnut, and pumpkin. A hot decaf pumpkin cappuccino with skim milk has to be the best Starbucks decaf coffee drink in my humble opinion.
2. Decaf Instant Coffee
Instant coffee is an amazing option to know about because it also contains less caffeine than brewed coffee. Obviously the taste is a bit different but it can really hit the spot! In other countries like Israel, brewed coffee is not common, making pour overs or instant coffee regular options. Nescafe Taster’s Choice is my favorite brand. They not only have a decaffeinated option but they also make flavored instant coffee like vanilla and hazelnut.
3. Decaf Iced Black Tea with Lemonade
Unfortunately for us, Starbucks and Dunkin’ do not offer iced decaf black tea but as I found out, it’s quite easy to make it at home! I made a small batch of Lipton’s decaf black tea, waited for it to cool and left it in the fridge. Once the black tea was cold, I mixed a small cup of water with True Lemon Lemonade Drink Mix. I filled up a cup with ice, added the black tea and lemonade and voila! The drink was incredibly delicious and honestly tasted just like the Starbucks version (but minus the caffeine!).
4. Decaf Americano (Iced or Hot)
This decaf coffee drink is probably the most classic option that is available at most coffee chains and shops. Even with decaf espresso, the coffee still tastes strong (even more so when it is served hot).
5. Decaf Brewed Coffee
It can be challenging to find decaf brewed coffee outside the house. Regardless of whether a cafe has run out of their decaf batch, I try to stick to it or wait for a fresh batch. I usually drink my coffee with a little organic whole milk and two packets of Stevia.
6. Decaf Iced Shaken Espresso
Decaf options at Starbucks are always changing with new offerings. This is a newer option that Starbuck’s rolled out – it is similar to the americano but with less water. It is definitely on the stronger side so it takes a few tries to figure out your preferred amount of milk, sugar, or flavors.
7. Decaf Latte (Iced or Hot)
I used to be a huge fan of lattes when I was younger but tend to only have them on occasion now as they contain more milk. Lattes are available practically everywhere, both iced and hot. Because I tend to have them as treats, I love adding in different sauces and syrups like pumpkin and vanilla.
8. Decaf Macchiato (Iced or Hot)
I have such fond memories of when I first started drinking the famous Starbucks caramel macchiato! While their version isn’t a “true” macchiato – it is truly delicious! I love that because this drink includes espresso, it can be equally enjoyed hot or cold.