Decaffeinated Coffee; To some, these two words shouldn’t ever be side-by-side. Why?
Some say that the flavour isn’t as good or it defeats the point of coffee or a million other things. Is this truly the case, or is the fact that most places serve BAD decaff the real reasoning behind this, fueling a downward spiral?
A shop owners train of thought may go “Most people don’t like Decaff coffee, so why buy a premium decaff when it won’t be bought whilst its good.” Fuelling the dislike of most coffee drinks to think that decaff coffee is of a lower quality. I know a lot of 3rd wave bars have a second Pro-sumer grinder for the purpose of having good decaff but they’re still in a very small minority when you look at the 2nd wave bars out there. Most use pre-omni-ground (i.e. too fine for filter too course for espresso), single serving sachets of decaff coffee and not usually a good blend. I’ve even witnessed one making decaff with Kenco Instant Decaff Sachets alongside espresso machines.
Is the quality of decaffeinated coffee lower than its full-caff equivalent? I think the end product is often of a lower quality but this is more due to the fact that decaf gets so little respect and is often treated like a begrudging obligation to stock rather than another part of the range. I’ve never had the opportunity to taste an identical coffee’s in both varieties side by side, but assuming that the Swiss water method is used (Rather than the chemical method) I would imagine it takes on characteristics of a washed coffee.
Why drink decaff? If its 10pm and you fancy a coffee, you’re not going to often be wanting to be up until 2am because of it. Or you’ve had a lot of caffeine and want to mellow out a bit but still crave coffee. Or you’re highly sensetive to caffeine but you like your coffee, an affliction for which any suffer gets my heartfelt sympathy. Saying decaf coffee isn’t really coffee, rhetoric I’ve heard quite a lot, and even believed for a period, is akin to saying low-fat sausages aren’t really sausages or sugar-free cakes aren’t really cakes.
I think the fault lies with the providers not the products, decaffeinated coffee needs to be brough miles forward to be on par with its caffeinated counterparts.
N.B I know there are some coffee shops and roasteries that do make good decaff espresso, but they are not commonplace.