Decaf drinkers used to have two choices: settle for the brew in the orange-handled glass carafe, or opt for espresso and endure the barista’s grimace. But as regular coffee improves with better beans and brewing methods, decaf is following suit with water-based caffeine extraction methods and gentler roasting. Explains Tony Dreyfuss, co-owner of Metropolis Coffee Company: “More water lifts more boats, and I believe that decaf is along for the ride.” Here are some outstanding buzz-free cups:
Asado Coffee Co.
Owner Kevin Ashtari brews house-roasted beans from Chiapas, Mexico, in individual cups using the pour-over method. Chocolaty and full-bodied, it can out-taste some regular coffee. 1432 W Irving Park Rd (773-661-6530).
Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea
Brewed with the pour-over method, Intelligentsia’s Latin-American blend, El Mago, offers a bright coffee with mild chocolate and citrus notes. Locations citywide (intelligentsiacoffee.com).
The Coffee Studio
Co-owner Lee Corrina Cano turned her decaf-drinking mother into a connoisseur with one drink: a velvety benchmark decaf americano with three shots of Intelligentsia’s decaf Black Cat topped with water. 5628 N Clark St (773-271-7881).
Bridgeport Coffee House
For a small cup of decaf, there are two options: a double- or triple-shot americano. Made with Bridgeport Coffee Company’s gently roasted Ethiopian Sidamo beans, both are on the lighter side. 3101 S Morgan St (773-247-9950).
Metropolis Coffee Company
Brewed in a Fetco commercial coffee brewer, Xeno’s blend, an organic water-processed decaf from Indonesia, makes for a rich, malty, balanced coffee. 1039 W Granville Ave (773-764-0400).