The internet is rife with millions interested in finding out how acidic is coffee?
Most of us know that coffee has several positive benefits – it’s a natural source of caffeine and antioxidants, but many worry about the acidity in coffee.
Naturally, Coffee is acidic. And while many people may not experience an adverse negative reaction, its effects are more significant for people with sensitive digestive tracts – often experiencing acid reflux and other stomach issues.
Studies have shown that the pH of coffee is not the same for all types of coffee – some are more acidic than others. It depends on many factors, such as the origin of the bean, proper roast and grinds size, the freshness of your beans, and water quality.
With a pH between 5 and 5.5, coffee is very mildly acidic, even far less acidic than orange juice.
But what determines how acidic is coffee? Why are some brands are more acidic than others? And how can we reduce the acidity?
Here is how.
What is the relationship between coffee’s acidity and its flavor?
Coffee beans are packed with more than 800 compounds that give them their complex yet pleasing taste and aroma. However, the acidity of a coffee does not necessarily mean that it is bitter, sour, or acrid. But quite often, acidic coffee is caused by poor extraction, but there are other causes.
What is the pH value of Coffee?
The pH scale shows the acidity and alkalinity of a substance. A pH of 7 indicates neutrality, and values between 7 and 14 are considered alkaline; those between 1 and 7 are considered acidic.
The pH of coffee ranges from 5.39 to 5.54, which is just slightly above neutral at 7. In comparison, orange juice’s pH is 4, and vinegar’s pH is 3.
To unravel, how acidic is coffee? We need to consider its major compounds, particularly acids.
Coffee contains many acids, including some good acids and some bad ones. Among other things, malic acid and phosphoric acid are responsible for coffee’s sweet taste.
But some acids like acetic acid and citric acid cause a sour taste in coffee when in excess and in low volume results in a bitter taste.
The secret to an irresistible cup of coffee lies in the acidity balance.
Coffee contains another type of acid called chlorogenic acid. Although the word sounds scary, chlorogenic acid may be helpful when it comes to losing weight.
Furthermore, chlorogenic acid also adds bitterness to coffee but roasting your coffee beans for long causes the acid to break down.
And perhaps, the dark roast coffee beans might help settle your stomach, so you may want to give it a try.
Among the many compounds in coffee, quinic acid is the main culprit of its overall acidity. It is produced by the degradation of coffee, especially if left on a stove or hot plate for long or when the coffee bean age.
If you keep your coffee hot for extended periods, it will have a higher concentration of Quinic acid.
Have you ever tasted the bitter flavor of old coffee in your break room? Quite simply, that is Quinic acid, and it is detrimental to digestion. Luckily, the bitterness can easily be rectified by buying a coffee carafe with good insulation and getting rid of the warmer.
“The acidity in a cup of coffee can contribute to the balance or complete the flavor profile of the beverage. Drinkers normally enjoy coffee that has a balance of acidity because coffee that’s too acidic tastes sour, but coffee without acidity is tasteless.” – Mane Alves, Coffee lab (Q-grader and testing judge)
Acidic Coffee And What They Do To Our Body
In some situations, the acidity of coffee causes discomfort in some people.
While many believe coffee causes acid reflux, a recent study suggests that it’s not the acidity in coffee that causes the problem; rather, coffee can trigger stomach acid production.
As you are still wondering how acidic coffee is, that lovely cup of coffee may not be so good for your heart. Some people experience heartburn if they drink caffeine because coffee can cause relaxation of the esophagus muscles, allowing acid to flow upward and irritate the esophagus.
If you experience heartburn frequently, cut back on the number of coffee cups you consume daily, or better still, opt for decaffeinated coffee. Decaf has the effect of alleviating the symptoms of acid reflux.
Coffee — particularly the lighter roasts — is acidic and can damage your teeth over time by causing cavities or tooth decay, depending on how much you drink. In particular, tannin acid causes stains in teeth and erodes tooth enamel.
How to Fix Acidic Coffee
We all love coffee, but it can sometimes be a bitter pill to swallow. And if you have been having sleepless nights because you don’t like the flavor, its side effects, or how acidic is coffee, here are practical tips for taming the acidic nature of coffee:
- Avoid the burn!
To avoid that sting in your mouth, remember, not all coffee is created equal. Some coffees are naturally low in acidity, and others have acidity reduced by adding taming compounds.
So next time you shop for coffee, read the label carefully and select coffee with low acidity.
- Use coffee that is naturally low in acid
If you want to reduce the acidity, then Arabica beans are preferable to Robusta beans because they contain less acid. Robusta beans, on the other hand, have more caffeine and carry a higher acid content.
However, even if you use Arabica beans, you should still make sure that you’re using high-quality coffee.
- Take into account the soil and altitude
Coffee is grown in several areas, and each area’s altitude and soil condition affects how acidic is coffee, which may land on your kitchen table.
When you buy coffee, it’s essential to look at the label to see if it was grown at high altitudes and whether the beans are from volcanic soil. These are things that make coffee acidic, and while there are other factors involved, they do.
If the information is not shown on the label, ask the provider – whether the coffee beans were grown at high altitudes or on rich soil.
- Taste the different kinds of coffee from other growing regions
Its origin influences the distinct flavor of the coffee bean, and coffee beans grown in different regions can exhibit varying characteristics. In Kenya, for instance, you’ll often find coffee that tends to be more acidic and fruitier than coffee grown elsewhere.
In sharp contrast, Sumatra and Brazil are famous for producing low acidity coffee low in acidity with a mild flavor.
Different regions have different characteristics that can change the coffee taste, which can change the taste of coffee, making for an exciting experience when you travel to a new area.
- It’s the roast that matters!
Just as wine is more acidic when its sour, coffee is more acidic when you roast it longer. Bright and citrus flavors are often a sign of over-roasted beans.
However, light roast coffee could also have high acidity because of compounds like malic acid.
Medium and light roasts became popular as 3rdwave medium coffee roasts took the market by storm.
The medium roasts, which generally have a more robust flavor than light roasts and can be used for pour-over, are particularly suitable for brewing single-origin coffee beans.
And if you don’t like light-roasted coffee, choosing Espresso and French roasts will enable you to still get the same benefits as regular coffee.
- Are you using the coffee extraction optimally?
Once you have found the right beans and the proper brewing technique, you need to consider how to extract the coffee optimally. When your coffee extraction technique is off, it can lead to the acidity that gives your coffee a sour taste.
To get your perfect cup of coffee, start by finding the right beans with the correct technique. If your coffee is too acidic, it may mean that your grind size is too coarse, or you have brewed your coffee for too short a time.
Acidity is a common off-flavor in under-extracted coffee, which you can avoid by grinding finer or lengthening your brew time.
Depending on your brewing method, the best way to make coffee depends mainly on the grind size and brewing time. Not all recipes will produce a good result. Experiment until you have found a formula that works well for you and stick to it.
- A splash of milk or cream tones down the acidity
To reduce the acidic taste of your coffee, you can add some milk or cream to help balance out the pH level.
Because they are naturally acidic, light roasts do not absorb milk well. The acidity effect on milk is more profound in plant-based milk such as soy milk, which curdles when in contact with coffee acid.
So, if you like plant-based milk in your coffee, a splash of cream will easily do the trick.
- Reducing acidity in coffee with eggshells
New research shows that adding eggshells to coffee reduces acidity, potentially making it easier for those with stomach ulcers.
In addition to balancing out coffee’s acidity, the naturally alkaline eggshells may also remove bitter, over-extracted aroma and flavors in the process.
- Sprinkle some Salt
A dash of salt and brewing is an old trick that works to balance the acidity in coffee.
Whatever the brewing method, this method effectively balances the acidity and can even enhance the sweetness in your coffee. The trick is to ensure that you put in the right amount for the best experience.
Research has proven that salt is better than sugar at neutralizing bitterness.
If you’re looking to cut down the bitterness of your coffee, consider adding a quarter teaspoon of kosher salt per 6 tablespoons of coffee grounds, which will do the trick without altering the flavor significantly.
Here’s a Chemex hack: try adding salt to your next cup of coffee, and you’ll reduce the acidity without sacrificing flavor.
- Drink it cold
Did you know that you can minimize the acidity of coffee by using cold water instead of hot when brewing?
According to studies, temperature impacts how acidic coffee is; and cold-brewed coffee can have 60% less acidity than hot coffee. So if you prefer your cup of coffee drink, less acidic, you may want to try cold brewing.
Many people still crawl over the internet, more will still come to query: How acidic is coffee? Remember that coffee is mildly acidic with a pH between 5.39 and 5.54, but some are more acidic than others.
Interestingly, coffee contains over 800 compounds that affect its acidity and its overall taste and aroma. Good acids result in sweet-tasting coffee, while bad acids make coffee taste bitter and sour.
Despite having numerous health benefits, the acid in coffee causes heartburn and stomach upsets. While you cannot eliminate acids in coffee, you can take steps to reduce the acidity.
And if your coffee has a sour or bitter taste – a clear indication of high acidity – it’s high time to take action. Choose your coffee beans carefully, use a proper roasting technique, add neutralizing additions, or better still, take cold coffee if you can.
A balanced acidity in coffee will ensure you have the best experience with minimum flip side effects.
Do you know how to make coffee less acidic? Would you please share your experience with us?
How acidic is coffee? Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How acidic is coffee?
Coffee is naturally mildly acidic with a pH level of between 5.0 and 5.5, similar to a banana. Compared to most beverages and fruits like orange, lemon, or passion, coffee is less acidic.
Various factors affect the acidity in coffee, such as the origin of the bean, the roast style and grinds size, how fresh your beans are, and the quality of the water used.
How does acidity in coffee affect people?
Coffee is acidic, but many people may not experience adverse effects. However, those with sensitive digestive tract may find it problematic as the acidity could trigger heartburn and acid reflux in them.
What type of coffee has the highest acidity?
Arabica coffee, commonly grown in Eastern Africa, has higher acidity than the robusta coffee type.
Also, dark-roasted coffee has lower acidity than lighter roasted coffee.
How can I minimize the acidity in my coffee?
You can reduce the acidity in your coffee in several ways, namely;
- Proper extraction technique: over-extraction produces less acidic coffee ensure you select good beans, grind them into finer particles and brew your coffee long enough
- Add neutralizing agents: Neutralize the acid by adding milk, cream, salt, or broken eggshells
- Proper roasting: the more you roast your coffee beans, the more it becomes mild. Lightly roasted coffee is generally acidic
- Choose low acid coffee: arabica coffee beans produce less acidic drinks than robusta coffee type
- Select coffee from specific regions producing low acid coffee, like Brazil. Coffee from Kenya and Ethiopia are more acidic
- Preparing your drink at a low temperature: Cold temperature reduces the acidity by up to 60%
How does coffee extraction affect coffee acidity?
In Coffee, extraction occurs when the aroma and flavor in the coffee begin to diffuse into the water as soon as it makes contact. Not all compounds in the cup are extracted simultaneously, so the extent of extraction will affect the taste and aroma of the drink.
Over-extracted coffee tastes bitter, and under-extracted coffee tastes sour. To get the best cup of coffee, you need to find the right balance between grind size, brewing time, and water temperature.
For an acidic coffee beverage, use coarse ground beans and brew for a short amount of time at a high temperature. And for a sweeter coffee beverage, cold brew for a more extended amount of time at a lower temperature, using finely ground beans.