If you’re a coffee drinker, you’re probably familiar with the effects the beverage has on your body.
If you’ve ever asked the question, “is coffee acidic?” you also probably know the answer is yes.
But what does this really mean?
Before judging your cup of joe, read on to learn more about what acidity is, the impact it has on your health, and how to reduce acidity in your coffee.
What is Acidity?
When we talk about acidity in coffee, we usually refer to the sharp flavor you taste in the front of your mouth when you take a sip.
Acidity in coffee comes from the roasting process, which eliminates some of the natural acids but allows others to survive.
Scientifically speaking, acidity refers to pH levels, with values under 7 considered more acidic.
Substances with a pH level over 7 are alkaline.
Coffee registers below this amount, making it an acidic beverage.
Acidity vs. Acid
An acid is a chemical compound capable of ionizing in water and releasing hydrogen ions.
Acidity is the measure of how many acids are in a particular substance.
Acidity uses the ph scale for measuring.
What is the Difference Between Acid and Acidity?
An acid is a chemical compound itself that can release hydrogen ions.
Acidity is the level of acids present in a substance.
The more acidic a substance is, the lower it rates on the pH scale.
What’s the Deal with Acid in Coffee?
Coffee is well-known for its highly acidic properties.
Some people love the acidic taste of coffee, while others avoid it.
There are two categories of coffee beans: robusta and arabica.
Arabica beans are more acidic but better tasting than Robusta beans.
Arabica beans are commonly found in specialty and higher quality coffees, while Robusta beans are for instant coffee and cheaper blends.
Is Coffee Acidic or Alkaline?
Coffee is acidic because it has a pH level below 7.
Different coffee types and beverages register at different pH levels, but the overwhelming majority are below pH 7
What is the PH Level of Coffee?
The average pH level of coffee is between 4.85 and 5.10.
Ground size and methods or roasting and brewing can impact the acidity of a particular coffee.
Acids in Coffee
Acids in coffee give the beverage its well-loved flavors and differ by roast and bean.
What Acids are in Coffee?
There are nine primary acids present in coffee:
Of these, chlorogenic and quinic acids have the highest concentration.
Chlorogenic Acids are a natural antioxidant present in coffee.
They are the highest concentrated acid in coffee.
These acids are beneficial and likely responsible for coffee’s role in improving glucose regulation and reducing type 2 diabetes.
Quinic acids are the next most concentrated acid in coffee, increased further because many chlorogenic acids turn to quinic acids during the roasting process.
This acid is often responsible for sour tastes in coffee.
Like chlorogenic acids, quinic acids contain antioxidants that can benefit coffee drinkers.
Why Does Coffee Acidity Matter?
Coffee acidity impacts the flavor of your brewed coffee and the impact of your coffee consumption on your overall health.
Effects of Acidity in Coffee
Acidity in coffee can reduce blood pressure, lower blood sugar, improve mood, reduce cancer risk, and have other health benefits.
However, it can also cause harmful side effects, such as upset stomach, tooth decay, or acid reflux.
Is Acidity in Coffee Good or Bad?
In general, acidity in coffee is good for your health.
It improves your body’s ability to regulate sugar, which reduces your risk of type 2 diabetes and can help you lose weight.
It also contains antioxidants and can reduce the risk of some types of cancer.
Why Does Coffee Upset My Stomach?
Coffee can lead to an upset stomach because of its high acidity, high caffeine content, or because you are drinking it on an empty stomach.
Because of the high acidity of coffee, drinking it on an empty stomach can irritate your stomach lining.
If you eat something first, the food already in your stomach will buffer against the acidity.
Drinking coffee can also upset your stomach if you are sensitive to caffeine, as many people are.
If you think this might be the case, check if you still have an upset stomach after drinking decaf coffee.
If so, you’re probably just sensitive to the caffeine in your cup of coffee.
Which Roasts are Most Acidic?
Some coffee roasts are more acidic than others.
Coffee acidity varies based on the roasting process, coffee ground size, and the beans themselves.
Light roasts are almost always more acidic than dark roast, with a pH close to 4.85 on the scale.
Light roasts are usually more golden brown in color.
These beans are less acidic than those used for dark roasts.
Roasts with a coarser grind are also more acidic than finer ones.
How Do You Test Coffee Acidity?
You can test coffee acidity by purchasing pH analyzer strips.
These will tell you the exact pH of the coffee you are drinking, which you can then compare to the pH scale.
Anything with a pH lower than 7 is acidic.
How Does Acidity Change When Brewing Coffee?
Coffee becomes more acidic when brewed.
Different brewing methods can impact acidity levels in a cup of coffee.
Fine grind methods, such as in a French press or standard drip brewer, will have less acidity than methods using a coarser grind.
Coffee brewing time can also impact the acidity level of the final product.
The impact of brewing time is on a curve.
Coffee is most acidic when brewed for five minutes and is less acidic when brewed more or less than that.
Temperature also plays a role in acidity, with the most acidic coffee brewed at 94 degrees Celsius.
Acidity is lower when brewed at cooler or hotter temperatures than the 94-degree peak.
The acids in the coffee will also change, as some acids convert to others.
For example, chlorogenic acids often convert to quinic acids during brewing.
This increases the sour flavor of the coffee.
What is Low Acid Coffee?
Low acid coffee is specially made to provide lower acidity and extra antioxidants to counteract the impact of acidity on your stomach.
It is an excellent choice for coffee lovers who get an upset stomach after their morning cup of joe.
There are many popular low acid coffee brands, such as Golden Ratio or LifeBoost coffee.
You can also search for naturally lower acid coffee grown in the following regions:
- Indonesia (Sumatra)
- South America (Peru and Brazil)
- Central America (Guatemala, Mexico, and Nicaragua)
Is Low Acid Coffee Good for Acid Reflux or Heartburn?
Low acid coffee will cause significantly less acid reflux and heartburn than traditional coffee.
This is because it has lower acidity.
The acidity in traditional coffee can cause acid reflux or heartburn because it relaxes your esopHagus and irritates your stomach lining.
Low acid coffee is less likely to do this because it has lower acidity.
Does Acid-Free Coffee Exist?
Although it is much more difficult to find than low acid or regular coffee, acid-free coffee exists.
These beans are relatively new on the market but they received a positive response by coffee drinkers everywhere.
Tylers was the first acid-free brand and is still the most popular today.
Tips to Help You Avoid or Reduce Acidic Coffee
There are many ways to enjoy your favorite coffee without getting the full acid content.
You can opt for a type of coffee with less acidity or follow the tips below to reduce the acidity of your favorite blends.
How Do You Reduce Acidity in Coffee?
These are the most popular ways to reduce acidity in your coffee:
- Purchase a low-acid or no-acid coffee bean, such as the ones we discussed above
- Use finer grinds, which will result in a less acidic coffee than coarse grinds
- Opt for a darker roast. Lighter roasts are more acidic than dark roasts.
- Choose a cold brew coffee instead of a hot brew coffee. Cold brewing is the brewing method that results in the lowest acid level of coffee
- Avoid cheap or instant coffee, which can use coarser or mixed grade coffee grinds
- Add something less acidic to your coffee, such as milk or cream, to reduce its acidity. If you don’t want to use dairy, a little bit of salt can have a similar impact on your coffee acidity levels.
In addition to reducing the actual acidity of your coffee, you can offset the negative impact of your coffee acid by following these simple rules:
- Don’t drink coffee on an empty stomach
- Pair your coffee with alkaline (non-acidic) food or drinks to create a proper balance in your stomach
- Try different roasts, beans, and caffeine levels until you find one that works best for you. Don’t ignore acid reflux, heartburn, or stomach issues.
- Avoid more acidic additives, such as sweetener, sugar, or honey
Frequently Asked Questions
Knowing that coffee is acidic brings to mind many other related questions.
Is Espresso Less Acidic Than Coffee?
Yes, espresso is less acidic than coffee.
It uses a dark bean, which is less acidic than lighter beans.
It is also roasted longer, further reducing the acidity in the coffee.
However, there are more acidic espresso beans on the market, so be careful which you buy if you are looking for a low-acid coffee option.
Avoid brewing your espresso too quickly or adding sweeteners to keep it less acidic.
Is Tea Less Acidic Than Coffee?
Yes, tea is less acidic than coffee.
Green and black teas are almost always less acidic than coffee.
Be aware that some other types of tea can actually be more acidic than some coffees.
Is Decaf Coffee Acidic?
Yes, decaf coffee is still acidic.
Many coffee drinkers mistakenly believe that decaf coffee is not acidic because it usually results in fewer upset stomachs.
However, this is likely due to the lower caffeine level in the coffee, not the acidity.
Coffee is acidic, but its acidity brings numerous health benefits to coffee lovers.
There are many ways to reduce the acidity of your coffee, such as less-acidic additives and brewing times.
If you suffer from acid reflux, heartburn, or upset stomachs, low-acid or acid-free coffee might be a better option for you.