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Neuroscience For Kids

Caffeinated Decaf
October 25, 2006


Question: When does decaffeinated coffee contain caffeine?
Answer: Almost always! That's what a new study from the University of Florida says.


Researchers bought 22 decaffeinated coffee drinks from restaurants and coffee shops and measured the amount of caffeine in each beverage. Folgers Instant Krystal was the only drink that did not contain any caffeine. The other 21 drinks had between 3.0 and 15.8 mg of caffeine. Starbucks decaffeinated espresso drinks had an average of 7.0 mg of caffeine per shot; Starbucks brewed decaffeinated coffee had an average of 12.9 mg of caffeine in each 16 ounce serving. A cup of regular coffee has between 60 and 150 mg of caffeine.


Although the amount of caffeine in decaf coffee drinks may be small, even a little caffeine can affect behavior in some people. Also, if someone drinks several cups of "decaf" coffee, they may consume the same amount of caffeine as that in a regular caffeinated drink. Small amounts of caffeine may interact with some medications and cause problems. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggests that people who use bronchodilators for asthma, quinolones (a type of antibiotic) for infections, monoamine oxidase inhibitors for mood disorders, anti-anxiety drugs, or histamine blockers for stomach conditions should avoid caffeine.

So, if you are looking to be COMPLETELY caffeine-free, stay away from "decaf" coffee.

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Copyright © 1996-2006, Eric H. Chudler, University of Washington