Douwe Egberts And Lavazza Caffe Decaf Coffee Taste-Off!

18 January 2011

drinking coffee

I was on a diet for health reasons for a year that meant I couldn't have any caffeine. Apart from feeling rather sleepy I discovered that decaffe tea tastes just like normal tea, whereas decaffe coffee was in fact a crime against nature.

So this challenge from Douwe Egberts intrigued. Apparantly many brands have now created decaf blends that taste as good as their caffeinated counterparts (minus the buzz). They challenged us to trial some of the leading products on the market.

I accepted. Or rather after scouring our list of PlayPennies Parents willing to sacrifice their caffeine fix I found someone who would accept the challenge. Kristina, mother to six year old daughter and two year old son, loves her coffee. So the brands weren't in for an easy ride.

Here's the instructions suggested to us by Douwe Egberts if you want to try this challenge yourself.

  • If brewing coffee in a cafetiere, add hot water just off the boil, stir well and leave for 3-4 minutes before plunging.
  • When tasting coffee, it is best to ‘slurp’ at it, as this covers your tongue evenly and allows you to get a full mouthful of flavour across all the tastebuds.
  • Make sure you have a drink of water after each different coffee, as the aftertaste of one will affect the flavour of the next, so the palate-cleansing is essential!
  • Mark a score for each coffee, rating them on a variety of factors including taste, aroma, acidity, strength and aftertaste.

Douwe Egberts

Douwe Egberts Decaffeinated Medium Roast

Initially Kristina was very suspicious of these coffees. "I’ve avoided decaf for years because previous attempts have left a very bitter and fake aftertaste. So it was with some trepidation that I tackled these two packets of coffee. Oh and I am a huge coffee fan and very very fussy so the flavour is a very big deal for me."

She found that the Douwe Egberts coffee (100g £2 at Asda) had a very rich aroma, very solid and thorough that made her mouth water. So far so good. The strength was at least a 4 out of 5 – and Kristina followed  the instructions above. "The taste was excellent, surprisingly so. There was a faint almost metallic taste – a bit like sweetener – that sat on my tongue afterwards but it was barely noticeable and to avoid a caffeine buzz at night but still have scrummy coffee it seems a fine tradeoff to me."

Even though she takes sugar in her coffee, Kristina still found the coffee very sweet - or rather slightly sweeter than normal. "Not that I minded, I gave it a 4 out of 5. The coffee was smooth, looked rich and brown and creamy and very delicious. Smelled fantastic." She gave the body a 3 out of 5 for a faintly powerdery flavour left on the tongue. But her final word was positive. "I also loved the aftertaste and went ahead and made myself a second cup."


Lavazza Caffe Decaf Ground Coffee

Next up it was time for Kristina to test the Lavazza Caffe Decaf Ground Coffee (250g £3.18 in Tesco). "The other decaf was the same as the first one only with slightly less powerdery and more acidic." Not a lot of difference then?

There was more though. "It smells scrummy but isn't as rich and creamy as the Douwe." The Lavazza coffee came out as a fine and grainy powder and according to Kristina, it produced a cup of coffee that was dark and rich. While not as creamy and sweet as the Douwe, she felt it defintiely tasted fantastic. "Again there was a bit of an aftertaste that smacked of fake-ness but not so much that you'd complain - less than a sweetener would make. The body was full but not as sweet as the Douwe."

And Finally ...

Kristina's final verdict. Douwe won the challenge for her, but it was fairly close. "I prefer the Douwe but only because there was something almost choclately in the flavour that drew me. The Lavazze is ideal for people who like a slightly bitter kick to their coffee."

1 comment

  • Mark
    Decafe coffee is not actually caffeine free. I think as a general rule of thumb it can contain approximately a quarter of the caffeine of a non-decafe version. :)

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