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Brewing Lower Acid Coffee For A Happy Belly: 5 Easy Hacks

two cups of cold brew on bright blue tile beside small plant, lower acid coffee

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Coffee is a beloved beverage worldwide, but for those with sensitive stomachs or acid reflux, drinking coffee can sometimes be a painful experience. The acidity of coffee can cause heartburn, bloating, and other unpleasant symptoms. But fear not, fellow coffee lovers! There are solutions out there for us.

From dark roasts to cold brew, various low acid coffee options still pack a flavorful punch. We’ll discuss the science behind coffee acids, the benefits of low acid coffee, and some of the best brands and brewing methods to try.

So let’s get brewing.

Why Lower Acid Coffee Matters

What Is Lower Acid Coffee?

Lower acid coffee is, as you may have guessed, coffee with a lower acidity level than regular coffee. Coffee beans naturally contain acids that can cause discomfort in some people. Some of the most common acids found in coffee are chlorogenic acid, quinic acid, and citric acid.

Lower acid coffee is made by using beans that are naturally low in acid or by roasting the beans longer to reduce the acidity.

But do these acids increase stomach acid production? Not necessarily. While the research is largely inconclusive, there is some evidence that the caffeine in coffee can worsen acid reflux and heartburn symptoms for some people.

fellow opus grinder
The Fellow Opus Grinder

But don’t switch to decaf coffee just yet. According to Gastroenterology and Hepatology, no extensive, well-designed studies show that eliminating coffee or caffeine consistently improves GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) symptoms or outcomes.

But what is clear is that coffee, whether due to the caffeine or the acid, is a trigger for some and can lead to uncomfortable side effects.

Why Drink Lower Acid Coffee?

There are many reasons why someone might choose to drink lower acid coffee. For sensitive stomachs, low acid coffee might be easier to digest and reduce the risk of acid reflux, heartburn, and other digestive issues. Lower acid coffee can also benefit those with gastric ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and inflammation.

In addition to its potential health benefits, low acid coffee can have a smoother taste and be less bitter than regular coffee. This is because the acids in coffee can contribute to a sour taste. Reducing the acidity gives lower acid coffee a more balanced flavor.

How To Brew Lower Acid Coffee

When it comes to lower acid coffee, a few key factors come into play. Let’s look at how to brew low acid coffee, from roasting to the best brewing method, and a few simple tricks to improve your coffee experience.

coffee beans dropping into cooling tray on commercial coffee roaster

The Roasting Process

The first way to reduce the acidity in your coffee is to buy dark roast coffee beans. Look for an Arabica bean, which is naturally lower in acid than Robusta.

The roasting process is where coffee beans are transformed from green and grassy to the rich, aromatic beans that we all know and love. But did you know that the roasting process can also affect the acidity level of your coffee beans?

Dark roast coffee tends to be less acidic than light roast, as the longer roasting time breaks down more chlorogenic acid in the coffee bean. This results in a caramelized, slightly charred flavor profile perfect for those sensitive to acidity.

Fellow Stagg EKG Kettle
Fellow Stagg EKG Kettle

The longer roasting time also removes more of the caffeine in the bean, further reducing the risk of uncomfortable side effects. Look for medium-dark or dark roast coffee if you have a sensitive stomach.*

*Some coffee brands advertise their dark roast coffee as “low acid.” While this is inherently true and probably isn’t a case of false advertising, remember that any dark roast coffee will be lower in acid. Don’t pay more for a low acid coffee brand that is advertised as “healthier” than other coffee brands unless you have reason to believe it actually is.

Brewing Methods

Once you’ve got your dark roast beans (see suggestions below), consider changing up your typical brewing routine.

The way you brew your coffee can also have an impact on its acidity level. We recommend trying cold brew (or, perhaps, nitro cold brew) if you’re a coffee drinker who’s sensitive to coffee acidity. Brewing cold brew coffee is an excellent option for those who want a lower acid coffee, as the longer steeping process and super coarse grind result in a smoother, less acidic coffee.

Hario cold brew coffee maker
Shop the Hario Cold Brew Coffee Maker on Amazon

Additionally, brewing coffee with a paper filter (or, in this case, pouring cold brew through a paper filter after brewing) can help to remove some of the acidity, as it filters out some of the coffee oils that contain acid.

Baking Soda

Another way to reduce the acidity in your coffee is to add a touch of baking soda to your brew. We were never any good at chemistry but, lucky for us, this little science experiment is pretty straightforward.

Adding a base, like Sodium Bicarbonate (aka baking soda), neutralizes the acid in the coffee. This makes perfect sense, as Sodium Bicarbonate is a common ingredient in many antacids.

Don’t go overboard; just a sprinkle is all you need (no more than 1/4 teaspoon). Simply add the baking soda to your coffee pot, pour over carafe, etc., and let it work its magic. And don’t worry; as long as you use it in moderation, it won’t have an impact on the flavor of your brew.

almonds in almond milk close up

Milk Matters

Many people think that adding cow’s milk to coffee neutralizes acid, but, unfortunately, milk is actually slightly acidic, so it is not ideal for this purpose.

Almond milk, on the other hand, is alkaline and can help to neutralize the acid in coffee. Almond milk fans, rejoice! Add a splash or a cup to your next cup of coffee and reap the benefits.

The Role of Water

Believe it or not, the type of water you use can also affect the acidity level of your coffee. Hard water, for example, can make your coffee taste more acidic, while soft water can result in a smoother, less acidic cup.

If you live in an area with hard water, as we do in Southern California, using filtered water can help. If you’re unsure about your tap water, a simple PH testing strip can help you determine the acidity level of your water.

plastic cup of cold brew coffee with milk swirling

The Benefits of Lower Acid Coffee

Improved Digestion

We all know that coffee can sometimes cause digestive issues, especially for those with sensitive stomachs. But did you know that switching to a lower acid coffee can help alleviate these problems?

Low acid coffee is easier on the stomach because it contains fewer compounds that may cause stomach cells to produce acid. This means you can enjoy your morning cup of joe without heartburn or acid reflux discomfort.

Better Flavor Profile

Not only is low acid coffee easier on the stomach, but some feel it has a superior flavor profile. Dark roast coffees tend to be less acidic because the roasting process breaks down the acids in the coffee beans.

Plus, low-acid coffee has a smoother, less bitter taste, so you can enjoy your coffee with less sugar or milk.

Top Brands of Lower Acid Coffee

If you’re a coffee lover with a sensitive stomach, you know how frustrating it can be to find a brew that doesn’t cause discomfort. That’s why we’ve researched and found some of the best dark roast, lower acid coffees on the market. Here are a few of our top picks:

tiny footprint organic dark roast nicaragua segovia coffee beans
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Tiny Footprint Coffee

Tiny Footprint Nicaragua Segovia Dark Roast is an excellent choice for those looking for organic and eco-friendly low acid coffee. Their beans are grown in the mountains of Nicaragua, and they use sustainable farming practices to ensure a high-quality product. The beans are USDA-certified organic coffee, so you know you’re getting a pure and natural brew.

subtle earth organic medium-dark roast whole bean coffee low acid
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Subtle Earth Coffee

Subtle Earth Organic Medium-Dark Roast is a delicious organic coffee sourced from Honduras and roasted in small batches just before shipping to ensure optimal freshness. These beans are rich with chocolate flavor, a round mouthfeel, and a full body.

Their coffee is low in acid, so it’s gentle on sensitive stomachs. The beans are organic and fair-trade, so you can feel good about your purchase.

mayorga cafe cubano organic dark roast whole bean coffee low acid
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Mayorga Organic Coffee

Mayorga Café Cubano Dark Roast Coffee is another great option for those looking for the best low acid coffee. This Latino-owned company sustainably sources organic, fair-trade coffee beans, and they offer a variety of blends to choose from. They carefully slow-roast the beans in small batches, so you know you’ll get a fresh brew every time.

The Cubano roast has nuances of vanilla, maple syrup, and a subtle smokiness. It is fantastic on all brewing styles and makes a delicious cold brew.

When it comes to low-acid coffee brands, these are just a few of the best options out there. Countless dark roasts are available, so experiment until you find one that suits your tastes (and your stomach).

Whether you’re looking for organic, eco-friendly, or specifically designed for sensitive stomachs, there’s a brand out there for you. So go ahead and enjoy that cup of coffee without the discomfort!

Cheers!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Heather Calatrello

Heather Calatrello owner of ShedLight Coffee Roasters