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Can Espresso Be Decaf? Common Espresso Questions Answered

The Short Answer: Yes, you can get decaf espresso (including from Philly Fair Trade), though you probably won’t find it at coffee shops.

What better way to jumpstart the day after an all-night studying session than the concentrated, slug-it-back power of espresso.

Enjoyed daily by millions of slow-sipping, leisurely Europeans – where espresso has a deep history as the predecessor to American coffee – espresso is known more in the U.S. as the caffeine-packed base for lattes and cappuccinos. 

But true espresso fans know the power of enjoying a shot slowly and mindfully – not for its caffeine content, but for its ability to delight your taste buds. 

That’s why Philly Fair Trade launched our Decaf Espresso blend – a rich, smooth coffee blend with some of the best decaf espresso beans and notes of caramel that is fantastic for making the perfect cup of decaf espresso – truly sans caffeine. 

Here’s everything to know about espresso, brewed coffee, caffeinated coffee, decaf coffee beans, and the many ways to enjoy them both.

A latte with decaf espresso

How Is Espresso Made?

Espresso (and don’t you dare call it expresso) refers to an approach to making this rich drink. Espresso is really about process or brewing method, not blend or grind. 

Truthfully, espresso can be made with any coffee bean and roast you want, though most fans and coffee shops will have their opinion on the best ways to make espresso, and with what beans. 

Espresso is made by forcing hot water through coffee grounds (usually a very fine grind) to create a thick, creamy, and small coffee-based beverage, often with a bold flavor. Usually enjoyed sipped in a small espresso cup or added to steamed milk (to make a latte), espresso is truly a unique, appreciable approach to brewed coffee beans. It’s often made with a darker roast, but some of the best espresso is also made with lighter or medium roasts!

If you’ve never had an espresso unadulterated, you’ve got to try it.

How Much Caffeine Is In Espresso?

Let’s take a look at the caffeine makeup of espresso compared to some other common beverages. 

According to the FDA:

  • An 8-ounce cup of regular coffee or caffeinated coffee contains about 80 to 100 milligrams of caffeine.
  • A 1-ounce cup of espresso contains about 50 to 60 milligrams of caffeine.

By these standards, a 10-ounce cup of coffee, which is what you’ll commonly get at coffee shops or pour yourself in the morning, has about the same amount of caffeine as one shot of espresso.

How Are Decaf Espresso Beans and Decaf Coffee Made?

Yes, decaf espresso is generally just decaffeinated coffee beans roasted and ground finely to make espresso.

And, you’ve come to the right place, not only to get your decaf espresso questions answered, but because Philly Fair Trade is one of the few micro-roasters from which you can buy decaffeinated espresso!

Decaffeinating coffee happens through one of a few tried-and-true processes for removing caffeine:





Swiss Water Process

Uses a water-based process to extract the caffeine from the beans.

Considered to be the most natural and environmentally friendly method of decaffeination.

Can be more expensive than other methods.

Direct Method

Uses solvents such as ethyl acetate or methylene chloride to extract caffeine from the beans.

Less expensive than the Swiss Water Process.

Considered to be less safe, as the solvents can be harmful to human health.

Indirect Method

Similar to the Direct Method, but the solvent never comes into direct contact with the beans.

Considered to be a safer alternative to the Direct Method.

More expensive than the Direct Method.

Supercritical Carbon Dioxide Process

Uses carbon dioxide that has been converted into a supercritical fluid to extract caffeine from coffee beans.

Considered to be the most environmentally friendly method of decaffeination.

Can be more expensive than other methods.

Ultimately, the best method of decaffeinating coffee beans for decaf espresso is a matter of preference. Here at Philly Fair Trade, we use certified organic and fair trade beans that rely on the Swiss Water method as we prefer this more natural and environmentally friendly process.

Decaf espresso/coffee beans and ground coffee

Espresso Drinks And Espresso Coffee

What’s a Latte? Can I Get a Decaf Latte?

A latte is just a combination of an espresso shot and steamed milk, made incredibly popular by the ubiquity of Starbucks and their many latte variations. A decaf latte is just a latte made with decaf coffee.

Lattes usually contain about two ounces of espresso and 10 ounces of steamed milk. 

Latte made with decaf espresso

What’s A Red Eye?

If you truly want more caffeine, a red eye is a shot of espresso plus drip coffee.

Yea, it’s in the name – this combination packs some serious caffeine, perfect for red-eyed, bleary mornings.

Red eyes usually contain about two ounces of espresso and 10 ounces of drip coffee.

What’s A Cortado?

A cortado is somewhere between a latte and an espresso shot in size, generally made with a one-to-one ratio of espresso and steamed milk. 

Most baristas will make a cortado with about two ounces of espresso and two ounces of steamed milk, so roughly a four-ounce drink.

What's a Flat White?

The flat white stepped into the public conscience in the last decade thanks to a big launch by Starbucks. Yet another espresso coffee drink made with an espresso shot, a flat white generally involves less steamed milk than a latte, plus a thin layer of microfoam on the surface. Flat whites are also commonly made with a double shot of espresso.

Try Decaf Espresso Yourself With Philly Fair Trade

The great thing is, your favorite espresso-based drink – from latte to cortado – can be made with decaf espresso! 

If decaffeination is your top concern, we’ve got you covered. We’ve been roasting coffee and making our decaf espresso (and regular espresso) blend – perfect for espresso machines of all kinds – for years, and it’s just one way we cater to the ethically-sourced, organic coffee crowd that has patronized Philly Fair Trade since inception.

Order your fair trade coffee online, or find fair trade coffee by Philly Fair Trade at a retailer near you.

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