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Why You Should Avoid Caffeine When You’re Hung Over (and 9 Decaf Coffees to Try Instead)

As long as humans have been drinking alcohol, we’ve been searching for ways to mitigate our hangovers. In fact, a papyrus scroll dating back to the first century A.D. recommends that hangover sufferers simply wear Alexandrian laurel, a plant worn by Greco-Roman athletes and orators.

In the almost 2,000 years since then, we’ve settled on some hangover cures that sound more sensible than that. But as it turns out, plenty of modern methods are also medical myths. In most cases, remedies like hair of the dog or eating a greasy breakfast will only worsen your hangover.

But what about other factors that can increase a hangover? It turns out caffeine is another culprit here. And although many people turn to caffeinated coffee when they’re hung over, caffeine is far from the salve most people need.

The Effects of Caffeine on a Hangover

When we drink alcohol, our liver breaks it down into acetaldehyde, a toxic compound that causes the headaches and nausea that come with a hangover. Alcohol also causes dehydration. This happens because alcohol essentially tricks your kidneys into frequent urination, which deprives the body of much needed fluids.

When you drink caffeinated coffee while hung over, the caffeine you ingest can worsen these symptoms. The British Medical Journal holds that caffeine will worsen your dehydration, because it also acts as diuretic, and it may also worsen your upset stomach.

Caffeine can also increase your hangover-induced headache. This occurs because caffeine temporarily constricts your blood vessels and increases your blood pressure. This exerts pressure on your cranium, creating a painful headache.

It’s important to note that caffeine can also have some positive effects on your hangover. One study identifies caffeine as a helpful way to ease the pain of morning-after alcohol withdrawal.

What to Drink Instead

Ultimately, if you are a regular caffeine drinker, you should go ahead and have a cup of coffee (though probably best not to overdo it). If you drink caffeine daily, the headache you’ll get from caffeine withdrawal will make your hangover a lot worse.

For those of us who aren’t regular caffeine drinkers, though, the morning after isn’t the time to make an exception. The positive effects of ingesting caffeine won’t be worth the stronger headache, increased nausea, and anxiety that can come with it.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have coffee. Today’s decaf options are miles away from the Sanka older generations grew up with. On the contrary, decaf is having something of a renaissance right now, with roasters creating incredibly high-quality beans using all-natural decaffeination methods.

With that in mind, here are nine great decaf coffees to try when you’re hung over. Whether you prefer light roasts, dark roasts, espresso, or even cold brew concentrate, there’s a broad range of options to match pretty much any personal taste.

Counter Culture Decaf Urcunina

Roast: medium-light
Origin: Narino, Colombia (single origin)
Decaffeination Method: ethyl-acetate (sugar cane)
Taste: orange peel, stone fruit, light caramel

This offering from Counter Culture is for anyone who enjoys an approachable cup of coffee. Highly versatile and easygoing, it’s fruity on the palate with a complex citrus finish.

Intelligentsia Decaf House Blend

Roast: medium-light
Origin: Mexico (blend)
Decaffeination Method: Swiss water process
Taste: milk chocolate, grapefruit, almond

Intelligentsia’s flagship decaf packs a ton of flavor. It’s plenty juicy and bright, but it also offers a smooth milk chocolate finish.

Pete’s Decaf Mocca-Java

Roast: dark
Origin: Java and Ethiopia (blend)
Decaffeination Method: water process
Taste: caramel, bittersweet chocolate, nutmeg

When it’s cold out, there’s nothing more comforting than a hot cup of coffee with rich, warmly spiced flavor. If you’re a regular drinker of dark roasts, this is a great option for your morning cup.

Philly Fair Trade Roasters Decaf Mexico

Roast: medium-light
Origin: Chiapas, Mexico (Single)
Decaffeination Method: Swiss water process
Taste: milk chocolate, cherry, caramel

This impressive offering from Philly Fair Trade is a carefully sourced single-origin that will please both casual drinkers and the biggest coffee heads alike.

Explorer Cold Brew: The Daydreamer

Origin: blend
Decaffeination Method: Swiss water process
Taste: chicory, milk chocolate, brown sugar

Explorer specializes in cold brew and chai concentrates, including a decaf concentrate called The Daydreamer. If you’re somebody who needs a smooth iced coffee to start the day, this is a great choice. It’s also low-acid, even by the standards of cold brew, so if your stomach is sensitive, this is a good option.

Stumptown Trapper Creek Decaf

Roast: medium
Origin: blend
Decaffeination Method: Swiss water process
Taste: toast, cherry, chocolate

Stumptown’s Trapper Creek Decaf is smooth and flavorful, and it offers plenty of complexity despite being another low-acid option.

Savorista Brazilian Moment Decaf

Roast: medium
Origin: Brazil (blend)
Decaffeination Method: Swiss water process
Taste: caramel, pecan, date

Savorista is a “caffeine conscious” roaster, and this is one of its best decaf offerings. Sourced from the Cerrado region of Brazil, this blend is smooth and sweet, with lots of dried fruit and nuts on the palate.

Reanimator Colombia Desvelado Decaf

Roast: light
Origin: Huilu, Colombia (single-origin)
Decaffeination Method: ethyl acetate (sugar cane)
Taste: lemon peel, praline, honey

Reanimator is a roaster that knows its way around light roasts, and this single-origin Colombia decaf packs a serious punch, with a delicious lemony finish. If you like to start your day off with a bright, fruity cup, this will get you going without any jitters.

Equator Coffees Decaf Eye of the Tiger Espresso

Roast: medium-light
Origin: Ethiopia, Colombia, Brazil (blend)
Decaffeination Method: water processed
Taste: toasted sugar, dried fruit, pecan

For those who prefer espresso, Equator Coffees makes one of our favorite decaf espresso blends. These carefully sourced beans make a flavorful shot that goes down smooth.


*Image retrieved from Prostock-studio via

The article Why You Should Avoid Caffeine When You’re Hung Over (and 9 Decaf Coffees to Try Instead) appeared first on VinePair.

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