by Omer GevaOctober 3rd, 2020
Coffee should be the best part of someone's day. Whether it's a fresh cup in the morning, or whenever you prefer, it is always a great thing. Unfortunately, it isn't much of a secret that too much of a great thing sometimes can end up doing more harm than good.
As all coffee enthusiasts know, the bright, and vibrant flavors that we enjoy in our coffee comes from the acid it contains. Although for some that is a great thing, for others it can end up with a side effect of acid reflux, or heartburn.
Coffee and acids tasting. Image courtesy of Image courtesy of Ryo John Ito.
When tossing around the term "low acid coffees", it refers to the the acid in the coffee, not its acidity.
Acidity is a term critics use to talk about flavor notes. As your average coffee normally would be at around 5 ph, it is higher than other drinks that might not give you any acid related issues, like beer or soda, which usually are around 4 ph.
Coffee contains chlorogenic acids (antioxidants) which is directly responsible for those bright flavors. This differs from acidity, which is more of an indication of the quality of the coffee. Coffee actually contains around 30 different acids, but a lot of ones from the citrus fruit flavors that are found.
This distinction is important, because it goes to show you shouldn't just count out a coffee if it is more "acidic". For example, dark roast coffee is often perceived as being less acidic because it has a darker, more bitter flavor, but dark roast is actually higher in quinic acid, which can actually cause that sour stomach feeling.
A less widely known factor that can cause heartburn in coffee is the caffeine content. After taking in large amount of caffeine, your muscles will generally relax or tighten. For some people, it’s the esophagus that relaxes, allowing stomach acid to spill out.
When the esophageal sphincter does its job (left), acid stays in the stomach. But when it relaxes (right), acid can return to the esophagus and cause heartburn. Image courtesy of Image courtesy of Beanpoet.
If you are looking to make a generalization regarding which coffees are lower in acid, then you can go ahead and looks for coffees from Mexico, Guatemala, and Peru, as their soils naturally help yield beans which less acids.
Additionally, although it's less likely you'll come across them for home brewing, try to stay away from robusta beans, as they contain a much higher percentage of these acids.
Finally another way you can avoid higher amounts of acid in your coffee is by buying fresher coffee. The longer the coffee sits, the more time there is for the acid levels to increase.
A sensory training session with coffee, organic acids, and fruit. Image courtesy of Image courtesy of Kata Sára.
Coffee’s impact on your tooth enamel depends on how strong your enamel is, and other lifestyle choices. But one of the biggest causes of tooth enamel erosion is the consumption of acidic beverages, which includes coffee.
Although it is a common belief that cold brewing coffee can reduce it's acidity, it is in fact a misunderstanding, due to the coffee tasting less "acidic", but not differing in pH levels.
A recent study at Thomas Jefferson University showed that pH levels are the same for cold and traditionally brewed coffee. Since the pH levels are what determine the outcome of if coffee is more acidic, cold brewing isn't a solution to this.
We gathered a few of the best low acid coffee brands on the market. If you’re susceptible to acid reflux, heartburn, and other digestive issues that are triggered by drinking coffee, you must try one of these delicious low acid coffees.
Lifeboost is a brand that prides itself in it's low acid variety coffees. The secret behind this is just the way and the region where they're grown. These beans come from Nicaragua, and are also fair trade. They're grown more than a mile about sea level (5700 feet), which is ironic since most low acid coffees usually grow at lower altitudes.
Grown without chemicals or GMOs, this coffee is low acid without sacrificing great flavor. It is Rainforest Alliance Certified which safeguards fair pricing, workers' rights, protects wildlife and the environment.
Puroast has 70% less acid than any other roasted coffee, and seven times the antioxidant level of green tea. Dark French Roast is a complex, flavorful dark roast made of the highest quality beans blended to create the perfect coffee for any time of day without the bitter aftertaste.
What's great about Don Pablo is the combination of eco friendly and low acid coffee. That and the complex flavor profile, ranging from chocolate to honey to caramel, provides for a great combination between strong and sweet coffee
The dark roasted version of this rare Indonesian coffee. The low acidity is accompanied by an exotic flavor with an intense syrupy aftertaste and an earthy richness. Dark roasted to bring out a different more potent taste.
Some people have to be especially cautious when it comes to drinking coffee, like pregnant woman. Mommee coffee is a rare coffee brand designed to be safe for pregnant women. For starters, this particular coffee is decaf, but they have 3 other levels of caffiene. In addition to it being organic, it boasts 60 percent less chlorogenic acid than other coffee brands!