I am, like many college students, a self-proclaimed coffee addict. If I don't wake up early enough to have my cup of cold brew before my day starts, then I honestly suggest you steer clear of me for the next 12 hours. I can already feel the headache coming on just thinking about missing the morning cup. I need that caffeine in my life, but I also just love the taste.

At night, I often indulge on some late night decaf coffee. Although it's decaf, I sometimes have problems falling asleep, which got me wondering, is decaf coffee caffeine free? Or am I drinking a cup full of sleeping problems?

Is Decaf Coffee Caffeine-Free?

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Kelsey Emery

According to Fox News, a cup of totally caffeine-free coffee doesn't exist. Great, I've been fooled for the last 21 years of my life. In order for a cup of joe to be considered decaf, the FDA states that 97% of the caffeine from the coffee beans must be removed. So that last 3% stays in the coffee cup. 

Coffee beans vary from bean to bean, so some coffees with 3% caffeine left in them will have more caffeine than other coffees. Nobody has time to research the coffee beans going into their coffee, so I won't go into the difference in the beans. Just know that you could be getting more caffeine if your coffee is full of the Robusta bean

How Much Caffeine Is That? 

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The average 12-ounce tall coffee from Starbucks has between 3 and 18 milligrams of caffeine in it. In 2007, Consumer Reports studied cups of decaffeinated coffee from popular chains and found that most cups of decaf had less than 5 milligrams of caffeine. Except one cup of Dunkin' that has 32 milligrams (ouch).

An average cup of fully caffeinated coffee has between 80-100 milligrams of caffeine. So having only five in decaf really is almost nothing, but it's not actually nothing. 

What Else Has Hidden Caffeine?

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Athena Abdien

Now that I know my nightly cup of decaf coffee is actually not decaf, I'm manically searching the internet for other hidden caffeine-filled items. Cocoa beans have caffeine in them, so most chocolate products have some.

The average candy bar only has about 10 milligrams, but Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate has about 30 milligrams, almost as much as a can of Coca-Cola. Certain Clif bars even have up to 50 milligrams of caffeine in them. I'm totally shocked about these findings, and nervous about what I'm putting in my body. 

This research has pretty much ruined my week because I'm consuming many things that I was unaware had caffeine in them. Although I'm shocked by the Clif bars, I'm more shocked by the fact that decaf coffee is a lie. I'm literally throwing out all of my decaf k-cups. Next time someone orders a decaf cup o' joe, hop in and ask them question, is decaf coffee caffeine free? Odds are, they won't know the right answer.