Let’s get straight to the point. YES, coffee is acidic.
However, being acidic isn’t necessarily a bad thing in your caffeine fix. While it is often the culprit for several health issues, especially for people with a sensitive stomach, its acidity is also one of its defining characteristics.
Brewing coffee releases several acids, which are responsible for its unique flavor profile. These acids contribute to the distinctive taste and aroma of your cup of joe. Nonetheless, it can also be the reason why coffee may taste bitter, sour, or off.
Read on to learn more about acidity in coffee, including its benefits and side effects. We’ll even teach you how to make your version of low-acid coffee.
Does Regular Coffee Have Acid In It?
Yes, regular coffee has acid in it. In most cases, it has a higher level of acid compared to its decaf counterparts, so make sure to watch out if you have a sensitive stomach.
To give you an idea about the acid in coffee, let us talk about its pH level. On average, it can range from 4.85 to 5.13. Typically, it is around 5. A pH level of 7 means neutral, and anything below that is acidic.
Coffee has various types of acids. They are responsible for theirchemical makeup, resulting in distinct flavor and aroma. Below are three of the most common acids you will find in coffee.
Touted as the secret super antioxidant in coffee, chlorogenic acid is responsible for many health benefits, so it isn’t entirely a bad thing. It can help lower cholesterol, make the skin youthful, reduce inflammation, and fight the damages free radicals might cause.
These polyphenols have the highest concentration in green coffee, making the latter the best option if you want to enjoy its therapeutic benefits. Nonetheless, during roasting, these acids will break down.
When chlorogenic acid breaks down after roasting, it becomes quinic acid. This is responsible for giving coffee slightly sour, astringent, and acidic flavors. It is the same taste that you will find in tonic water. In coffee, this is an unfavorable flavor. Quinic acid is the highest in darker roasts.
While most people will associate citric acid with citrus fruits, it is also one of the most common compounds you will find in coffee. Light to medium roasts will have a high concentration of citric acid. It will result in bright and slightly tart flavors. Nonetheless, like most acids, this is one thing that you should avoid if you have a sensitive stomach.
What is Low-Acid Coffee?
It is exactly what the name implies – coffee that contains minimal levels of acid. It has been through treatment, processing, or brewing with the goal of leaving little to no acid. Based on the pH scale, most low-acid coffee will fall within the range of 6.
The main reason why people drink low-acid coffee is that it is gentle on the stomach. It prevents issues like acid reflux and heartburn. More so, it is associated with many other health benefits, which we’ll be talking more about later in this guide.
Making coffee with low acid often involves a complex and innovative process, which can vary from one manufacturer to another. A good example of such is the use of steam and water. Pressure, temperature, and steam will work together to extract the harmful acids in coffee beans.
Different factors can contribute to coffee being low in acid. For instance, it will depend on the beans. If you want to switch to low-acid coffee, then you should pick Arabica instead of Robusta.
Side Effects of Acid in Coffee
Aside from the bitter or off flavor of coffee, many people want to stay away from acid in their caffeine fix because of its potential adverse effects, including the following:
Wear and Stain on Teeth
Like other acidic beverages, such as citrus juices, coffee can also weaken the enamel of your teeth. Not only that it can cause erosion, but it can also leave unsightly stains. Acids can also get stuck in the outer layer of your teeth, which can cause sensitivity.
Aggravates IBS Symptoms
Coffee has acids that can irritate the intestinal lining, making it bad for people who have IBS. Nonetheless, this is not because of acids alone. It can be painful. It is also related to the caffeine content in coffee.
The slight laxative effect of coffee can result in symptoms like irritable bowel syndrome, gastric ulcer, and acid reflux. It gives some people the urge to use the restroom more often as a result of their stomach’s sensitivity to acid in coffee.
Health Benefits of Low-Acid Coffee
Are you looking for compelling reasons to try low-acid coffee? Below are some of the benefits that can convince you that it is indeed a great alternative to your regular caffeine fix.
Improves Acid Reflux Symptoms
On top of the list of low-acid coffee benefits is that it is gentle on the stomach. This is a great choice for people who often experience an array of stomach issues, including acid reflux. Although, being low acid is not the only thing that can help. Drinking decaf coffee can offer the same advantage.
Gentler on Digestion
For people who have a gastric ulcer, irritable bowel syndrome, or dairy intolerance, low-acid coffee can be a savior. Having low acid can make it gentle on your digestive tract while also minimizing the likelihood of suffering from digestive issues.
More Work-Out Friendly
When you exercise, you are more prone to suffering from stomach and digestive issues, such as GERD or acid reflux. Hence, drinking low-acid coffee is highly recommended for fitness enthusiasts as it will allow you to work out with one less thing to worry about.
Potentially Higher Level of Antioxidants
To make coffee low-acid, one of the solutions is to lessen the roasting time. This will also result in a higher level of antioxidants in coffee. As a result, it can help fight cellular damage that free radicals might cause. It can improve your overall health.
Protect Your Dental Health
One of the not-so-popular benefits of low-acid coffee is its ability to protect your dental health. Regular coffee is high in acid, which can erode the enamel of your teeth, making them weaker. Also, it can prevent discoloration, giving you a better smile.
How to Make Coffee Less Acidic
Spare yourself from the potential side effects of acid in coffee. There are some easy ways by which you can make your coffee low acid, including those we’ll talk about below.
Through cold brewing, coffee is steeped for hours, usually overnight. The time it spends in cold or room temperature water helps in reducing the acid in coffee. Nonetheless, since it is cold water, it is not as effective as using hot water in extracting acids.
Roasting greatly impacts the level of acid in coffee. The lighter the roast, the more acids there will be. With this, you might want to go dark. The long roasting time means that coffee has been through more chemical changes, which also reduces caffeine.
If you are opting for a brewing method that requires using a filter, paper is a good option, especially when compared to metal mesh. One of the best things about paper is that it can sieve acids from coffee, reducing the possibility that they will get in your drink.
Shorter Brew Time
Choose methods with shorter brew times. This means that the extraction process will be quick, which prevents water from taking out more acids from the grounds. The longer you extract coffee, the more acid you can get from it.
This is one thing that many of you might find surprising. It is a good source of calcium, which is known for being alkaline. Hence, it will neutralize coffee acids. Crush clean eggshells, add coffee grounds, and brew.
What Brand of Coffee is the Less Acidic?
Luckily, you do not have to give up coffee if you are sensitive to acid. In most instances, moderation is the key. Do not go beyond the recommended caffeine level, which can loosely translate to four cups a day. More so, you should choose a brand of less acidic coffee. Below are some of the most popular choices:
- Golden Ratio: You will find interesting variations of low-acid coffee from this brand, such as Vanilla Coconut Gold Coffee and Chai Spiced Gold Coffee. Seasonal flavors are also available, perfect for those who want to be more experimental. Compared to regular coffee, Golden Ratio coffees have up to five times lower acid.
- Lifeboost: Going low acid does not mean that you must compromise flavor. This brand is known for its high-quality coffee made using beans from Nicaraguan farms. From the soil to the river, the beans are grown in a natural and rich environment, which helps in giving their coffee a unique flavor profile without being too acidic.
- Volcanica: If you are on a budget, this is one brand you will love. It is Kosher-certified and made using beans from Costa Rica. Plus, they roast the coffee after you order, which makes it easy to customize depending on the roast level you want.
- Puroast: Made through a pure roasting process, this is another brand that should be on your radar. The beans are slowly roasted on a woodfire. It contains up to 70% less acid than regular coffee. Even better, it has 7% more antioxidants than green tea.
What Coffee is Gentle on the Stomach?
The best option is low-acid coffee. The low pH in this kind of coffee is less likely to trigger stomach issues, including heartburn and indigestion.
When it comes to preparation and brewing methods, cold brew is a great option. Steeping coffee overnight will leave acids and oils in the grounds.
Espresso is also a good pick. The short extraction and high pressure help in balancing chemical compounds, making the drink less acidic.
Is Low Acid Coffee Good for Acid Reflux?
Yes, low-acid coffee is good for acid reflux. The acid in coffee is one of the variables that increase the likelihood of gastrointestinal issues, including acid reflux. Aside from acid, caffeine is another potential culprit.
What Coffee is Best for GERD?
GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease happens when stomach acids are repeatedly flowing back into the esophagus. Anecdotal evidence from many coffee drinkers supports the claim that coffee is one of the culprits of GERD. Healthcare professionals have the same sentiments, although little scientific evidence is available.
To be on the safe side, choosing the right coffee is crucial for those who have GERD. You might want to opt for a darker roast to prevent coffee from aggravating GERD. Cold brew is another great choice since it is less acidic and has lesser caffeine.
How Do You Drink Coffee with a Sensitive Stomach?
Having a sensitive stomach should not be a curse. You do not necessarily have to give up coffee, but you must be careful with what you drink. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Brew coffee in a shorter time. This will prevent it from extracting too much acid from the beans.
- Use a paper filter when brewing coffee instead of metal mesh. Paper is a great material because it can effectively reduce acids that get in your coffee.
- Try cold-brew coffee. It might not be the quickest way to make your coffee, but steeping coffee for hours will make it less acidic.
- Drinking decaf is also a good idea. Removing up to 97% of the caffeine in coffee can make it gentler, reducing the possibility of an upset stomach.
Is Decaf Coffee OK if you have Acid Reflux?
Yes, it is OK to drink decaf coffee if you have acid reflux. It is one of the best ways to enjoy coffee if you have a sensitive stomach. The effects of coffee on the stomach are less pronounced after decaffeination.
Is Light Roast Coffee Less Acidic?
No, light roast is not less acidic. Instead, it is the other way around. In most cases, the lighter the roast, the more acidic the drink is. So, if you want a less acidic alternative, which is gentler on the stomach, you should go for darker roasts.