Coffee, the magic nectar of the elder gods, is what makes the world go round. You can’t think of starting a morning without a cup of coffee. Even though coffee is an inseparable part of your daily life, along with millions of coffee lovers all over, there’s a common concern among everyone: “is coffee acidic?”
Today, I’m going to reflect on this question, along with everything you need to know about acidity in coffee.
I know this part will bring up the horrible flashback from high school chemistry lab days, but understanding this is important. So I’ll try to make it as easy as I can.
Acidity in any component is measured with a pH scale. This scale measures acidity levels based on the presence of hydrogen ions. Basically, the more hydrogen ions are present in a liquid, the more acidic it is.
Though water contains hydrogen, water is considered neutral (neither acidic nor alkaline). But if you add more hydrogen to water, you can change its properties and make it more acidic.
The composition of coffee is acidic, considering it has a pH level of around 5, and the highest point is 7. So, in short: coffee contains natural acids, and science proves it.
So now that we know there are organic acids in coffee, you might be curious to know the types of acid that are the content of coffee.
Most of these acids go away when you roast your coffee, while others stay even after the brewing method is finished. Roasting coffee is all about finding the right balance of acidity, body, aroma, and flavor.
Chlorogenic acid helps you to lower blood sugar levels. It also helps reduce the rate of absorption of carbohydrates. You can also find Chlorogenic acid in eggplants, carrots, potatoes, kiwis, and apples.
Quinic acid has anti-neuroinflammatory properties, which enable antioxidant effects. You can find quinic acid in particular berries, apples, and peaches.
Citric acid kills harmful bacteria and works as a preservative for different food types. You can find it in oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes.
Another natural preservative that works similarly to citric acid, acetic acid, is the main ingredient of vinegar. You can also find it in different snack foods mixed in as condiments.
Lactic acid helps you digest lactose that’s in milk. You can find lactic acid in fermented foods like pickles and yogurt.
Malic acid gets rid of the dead skin cells in your body while increasing your saliva production. You can find this acid in cherries, apricots, pears, and plums, along with many other fruits.
Phosphoric acid keeps your bones and teeth strong, working along with calcium. It also improves your kidney functions. You can also find it in chicken, eggs, fish, meat, and bones.
This one’s really vital for day-to-day living life, as linoleic acid improves the health of your heart and improves your blood pressure while reducing cholesterol levels. Linoleic acid is also found in nuts and seeds, sunflower oil, and soybean oil.
Another vital acid that helps your body store energy and supports cellular functions. You can get palmitic acid from dairy, meat, and coconut oil.
After reading about all these essential acids that you can find in a cup of morning coffee, you can see how coffee has more health benefits than risks.
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Though the acidity in coffee is natural, some factors can weigh in and change the acidity level of your coffee.
The time you take to roast your green beans and the temperature you roast it in affects the acidity level of coffee.
Lighter roasts are higher acidity since roasting coffee beans at high temperatures at a longer brewing time takes the acid away.
Some brewing process extracts coffee from the beans at different rates, so the acidity level of coffee can differ between different brew methods.
Coffee brewers that take a longer time to extract can take out more enzymes and compounds from the coffee grounds, making the coffee more acidic.
When working with finer grinds, more surface area of the coffee gets exposed to the water, making more acid extraction possible.
If you are looking to get a low acidic coffee without wasting your beans, you can try a coarse grind size.
Coffee can pick you up better than anything, but if you’re drinking highly acidic coffee every day, you can have several health issues.
If coffee has high acidity levels, the acid present in the coffee can affect the enamel on your teeth. Enamel is the outer protective layer of your teeth. Long-term exposure to acid can slowly erode and ruin the enamel on your teeth.
If you have a condition of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, acidic coffee will do you more harm than good. It’s even worse if you have gastric ulcers.
High acidic content can affect your bowel movement. For example, if you are sensitive to coffee acid, you can feel the urge to use the restroom for a number 2 more often than normal from a constant upset stomach.
Though coffee has more health benefits than side effects, coffee drinkers with certain conditions should consult a physician before consuming coffee. And if you are only sensitive to acid, you can always switch to low acid coffee alternatives.
Some coffee origins naturally produce coffee with a lower amount of acid:
If you want to avoid the side effects of acidity present in coffee, here are a few tips to help you with the issue:
As we mentioned earlier, specific coffee origins produce low caffeine coffee. So if you aren’t willing to jump through the complicated hoops to reduce the acid level, you can just pick up a coffee that has naturally low acidity.
Arabica beans are considerably lower in acid content compared to Robusta beans. So using Arabica beans for your brew, you can already guarantee a low acidity coffee.
Coffee beans that are grown at a higher altitude are more acidic. But they don’t always post it on the packaging of the coffee beans you are buying.
If you buy coffee from a qualified establishment, your coffee provider will know everything about the bean, including the altitude where it was grown. They’ll happily provide you with all the information you need.
Every coffee farm from different regions gives you different and unique flavor profiles. They can also vary in acidity level, among other things. So again, you can ask your coffee provider about the regional and acidity level information. Personal recommendation: go for Kenyan coffee for a balanced acidity level.
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Lighter roasts carry more acid since the coffee doesn’t get roasted enough to lose all its acids.
Dark roasts contain less acid since the high temperature and longer roasting time causes many of the acids to dissolve. So darker roasts, while being bitter, can help you out with a low acid coffee.
Under-extracted coffee has high acidity levels. Therefore, depending on your brewing method, pay attention to the extraction time for your coffee. It can also depend on the grind size of your coffee because grind size affects extraction rate and acidity levels.
When you add milk to coffee, it balances out the pH level of your coffee and helps you reduce acidity in your coffee.
Lightly roasted coffee doesn’t go well with milk, so dark roast coffee with a splash of milk is a perfect combination for a low acid coffee cup.
Eggshells have alkaline, which helps you balance the pH level of your coffee. So next time your black coffee feels acidic, put eggshells in the mix to take the edge off.
You can add in a pinch of salt to reduce the acidity level in your coffee.
I already bored you with scientific mumbo-jumbo, so I won’t be doing that again. The short version is salt balances out the acidic chemicals present in coffee that reduce acidity in coffee.
But remember not to overdo it; otherwise, you’ll be drinking caffeine-flavored saline.
Cold-brew coffee requires you to steep the coffee in cold water for up to 24 hours. While it gives you a cup of delicious cold brew coffee, it will also reduce the acidity level in your coffee by 60%
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Acidity in coffee isn’t all bad unless you have certain health issues that affect you personally. Even then, you don’t need to worry yourself with coffee acidity too much since it barely does you any harm.
We hope your cup of java is offering you all the acid-related benefits while keeping your acidity level safe.
Depending on factors such as brewing method, roast level, water temperature, and bean type, coffee can be highly acidic to create side effects.
Coffee acidity is the level of acid (measured by pH level) present in your cup of coffee.
Though decaf coffee is not as acidic as regular caffeinated coffee, it can still contain a low acid percentage.
If you want a coffee with the least amount of acid, take any coffee bean that is naturally low on acid, create a dark roast, and choose a brew method that offers proper extraction.
If you have certain health conditions like IBS, sensitive stomachs, digestive disorders, and gastrointestinal issues, you will be affected by coffee acidity levels.