Decaf Coffee, Is It Toxic?

It’s 3 pm. You’re in the mood for some coffee but if you have caffeine now, you know you’re going to be awake half the night. Maybe your body can’t properly process caffeine. Or maybe you’re already so full of energy, you just drink coffee for the taste. Either way, for some, decaffeinated coffee is unmissable in their life.


So how is coffee decaffeinated? There are few ways to achieve this. This first and more common way, is with CO2. Green coffee beans are soaked in water, and then added to a pressurized CO2 chamber, where the beans circulate for several hours extracting the caffeine. The other safe way to extract caffeine, is by soaking the beans in hot water.


However, there is a third way caffeine is extracted. This is by using a chemical called Methylene Chloride.  Companies like Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts rely on this particular method.


Methylene Chloride may sound familiar to you. That’s because it used to be used as a paint stripper, until it was banned by the EPA in 2019. Why was it banned? Well, according to researchers, short-term exposure to this chemical can cause general liver damage, damage to your central nervous system, and it’s even been found to induce liver and lung cancers.  More recent studies have actually shown methylene chloride to directly cause cancer in lab animals. And here’s a little fun fact: since the 1950s there has been a law that states the FDA can’t approve food additives that are shown to cause cancer in people or in animals.


So that said, in January, a group of respective health advocates filed a petition to ban methylene chloride in it’s use to strip caffeine from coffee beans. Clean Label Project even announced a lawsuit against five major coffee companies for the use of this chemical. At this moment, the FDA has not responded.


To find out if the decaf coffee of your liking uses this method, you can go to and search a brand. You can also go to to research any product you use, to ensure it’s safety and quality.



Clean Label Project Announces Lawsuits Against Five of the Largest Coffee Brands for Including Paint Stripper Ingredient in Best-Selling Decaffeinated Products | AP News
Federal Register :: Filing of Food Additive Petition From Environmental Defense Fund, et al.; Request To Amend the Food Additive Regulations To Remove the Solvents Benzene, Ethylene Dichloride, Methylene Chloride, and Trichloroethylene
EPA Proposes Ban on All Consumer, Most Industrial and Commercial Uses of Methylene Chloride to Protect Public Health | US EPA

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