For many people, their daily coffee serving is like their own dose of the nectar of the gods. It’s not just a great beverage to enjoy, but an integral part of daily life. However, for some who struggle with intestinal distress such as acid reflux or indigestion, the acidity levels in some coffee can cause them to forgo their favorite blend. In terms of the ph scale, black coffee tends to fall anywhere between 4.5 and 5.5 with some outlier exceptions. Luckily for those with acid sensitivities, this means that most coffees are less acidic than most fruit juices as well as sodas. While there is some acidity in coffee, there are certain roasts, blends, and brewing techniques you can lean toward if you find yourself sensitive to some coffee acidity.
Did you know that only certain climates are ideal for growing coffee beans? With coffee being the second most traded item around the world, it might shock you that where it can be grown is quite limited. The location with a climate that allows for coffee growth is set between The Tropic of Cancer and The Tropic of Capricorn, or about 23 degrees north and south of the equator. Within these boundaries, very different types of coffee are grown, and every region and even sub region produces a unique style of coffee. Elevation has a lot to do with acidity levels in the coffee beans. For instance, coffee beans that originate from higher altitude regions, like Ethiopia, tend to have a fruitier taste and higher levels of acidity. Conversely, coffee beans grown in lower altitudes like Brazil or Central America tend to have a smoother, more mellow taste with a much lower acidity. If you are sensitive to acidic foods, consider trying coffee originating from some lower altitude regions, along with a few of the following preparations techniques!
How You Brew
Along with where the beans come from, there are a few key ways you can affect acidity levels in your coffee cup on your own. When coffee is extracted from the grounds by way of contact with extremely hot water, like when making espresso, coffee has a higher level of acidity. However, when using more immersion styled methods like with a french press or by pour over techniques, you end up with a lower acidity level. Additionally, cold brew has some of the lowest levels of acidity on the coffee spectrum. You might have noticed that the taste of cold brewed coffee is a little more mild and more true to the smell of coffee, and this is all due to the difference in how contact with hot water creates a chemical reaction with the coffee bean where as with cold brew, it is much different. The acidity is lower because as the coffee grounds sit in the cold or room temperature water, the flavor compounds are extracted from the beans into the water which is naturally neutral on the ph scale. This slower, more elegant process of cold brew coffee gives you a more naturally flavored beverage with reduced acidity levels.
If you struggle with acid reflux or other intestinal sensitivities but love to enjoy a cup of coffee, consider looking into where your coffee is coming from and how it is prepared. This might save you the discomfort while maintaining your ability to soak in your favorite cup of jo!