Half Caff from Just Coffee Co-op

Amy Rea / Heavy Table
Amy Rea / Heavy Table

There are people who drink caffeine all day long. Then there are people who heroically avoid it and drink only decaffeinated products. But in between, there’s a third group: the half-caffers.

People go half-caff for a number of reasons, whether it’s because they want to give up some, but not all, of their caffeine for general health and well-being issues or they’re en route to weaning themselves from caffeine altogether. Coffee drinks like lattes and mochas can easily be customized this way, but for the home brewer, there isn’t always a lot of choice, other than trying to mix your own bean blends and hope they turn out OK. For a while, Minneapolis’ Peace Coffee offered Split Decision, a coffee available in whole bean or ground, but they recently announced they’re discontinuing it as part of an effort to freshen up their line.

Fortunately, there’s an alternative not that far away. Just Coffee Co-op in Madison, Wis., offers Half Caff, a blend of Guatemalan and Sumatran coffee beans that’s low-acid and rich and smooth in flavor. It’s something they’ve offered since the early 2000s, after a customer came to their booth at a farmers market and suggested the idea, noting that a lot of people would love to have the option of a half-caff blend.

Just Coffee tried the idea, playing with different roasts until they found a combination they liked, and it has been a popular item for them ever since. The beans are roasted separately, which gives staff the chance to sample them on their own and make sure they pair well with each other before combining them for sale. The decaf portion comes from beans that are water-washed, allowing Just to retain the organic label for them.

Half Caff can be ordered directly from Just Coffee in either whole bean or a choice of three grinds, at a price of $14 for 12 ounces, $32 for 2 pounds, or $73 for 5 pounds. Some Twin Cities co-ops, such as Eastside and Lakewinds, carry the 12-ounce size as well for $12-$14, depending on location.