Ah, coffee. There’s nothing better in the morning than waking up to the smell of roasting beans and taking a sip of that perfect roast. The only problem is the heartburn that comes later, or the possible coffee stains in your teeth that come from the acid in your brew. Don’t let that heartburn hold you back from enjoying a delicious cup of coffee though, especially since there are ways to reduce the acidity in your coffee so that you can enjoy the perfect cup.
How Acidic is Coffee?
You might remember those old science lessons in high school where you talked about acids and bases and how to measure pH. Well, just as a refresher, 7 is neutral, and anything lower than 7 is acidic. Coffee clocks in at a 5, so it’s not actually as acidic as orange juice, which clocks in at a 3.
If you experience some heart burn with coffee, this might be because of the acid, although it also might be because of the caffeine. Caffeine also has a tendency to cause heartburn and acid reflux.
Is Acidity in Coffee Bad?
In essence, no, there’s nothing wrong with the acidity in coffee. It can actually make certain types of coffees taste good, and usually add in that sweet taste that you might otherwise miss. Sometimes, you might notice a bitter taste depending on the coffee too—it’s all about balancing the acid in the coffee to get the flavor that you like.
Beyond flavor, drinking acids in coffee can have positive health effects as well. For example, they can potentially help with weight loss. On the other hand, there are of course issues with too much acid, which can give you heartburn or stomach issues.
How to Make Coffee Less Acidic
So, no, acid in coffee isn’t necessarily bad, but there are some completely understandable reasons why you might want to reduce the acidity to enjoy your morning cup. If you’ve found that decaffeinated coffee just doesn’t work for you, but you still want to reduce your stomach pain, making your coffee less acidic just might be the answer.
This is something to keep in mind when you’re out buying your morning coffee as well, but cold brew coffee has less acid than your usual roast. Cold brew coffee machines tend to make coffee that’s less bitter as well, all because the water that extracts the flavor will neutralize the acidity. And when we say less acidity, we mean as much as 60 percent less acidity, which can make a huge difference when you’re trying to enjoy your morning cup of joe.
All you have to do is prepare your coffee in advance by soaking your ground beans in cold water for at least a full 24 hours before you brew. Your coffee will end up being sweeter than usual, but even by cold brewing, you won’t get rid of all of the acids.
This is more like a method to have around 70 percent less acid, not to completely eliminate the acid from your coffee. As long as you have a little bit of time to get the brewing process going, you’ll be able to drink a good cup in the morning.
This may not be the method for you though if you’re in a bit of a hurry, but at least cold brewing is a fairly easy process once you get going.
Low Acid Beans
You’re in a rush and you don’t have time for that cold brew. Try instead to pick up low-acid coffee beans, which are made in a natural way to reduce the acidic content, or which have compounds added in to reduce the acid.
Just make sure to do your research to find the best-tasting low acid coffee beans to try before you buy them. You can start with paying attention to the altitude that your beans are grown at, since high-altitude coffee beans tend to be more acidic. All you need to do is check out where you’re buying your beans at even just on the bag.
And speaking of low acid beans, think about trying arabica beans. These beans already have less acid than comparable options, and are a stable of good coffee as it is—so hopefully, you’re already drinking them, but they’re a good place to start.
And as we talk about beans, you can also choose a coffee bean that comes from a different region—since some regions grow less acidic beans as compared to others. Coffee from Brazil and Sumatra tend to have lower acidity as compared to coffee beans from Kenya, for example.
Try to take a few minutes just to research where your beans are coming from. In only a few minutes, you can guarantee yourself a more comfortable cup in the morning.
You can also take a look at whether you’re choosing from lighter roasts or darker roasts. Lighters roasts tend to be more acidic by nature, so if you have a coffee that has more citrus, it will tend to be more acidic. You may want to try out a darker roast when you’re trying to reduce your overall acidity.
This is because dark roast coffees are made with chemical reactions that get rid of the acid, and they are made with less caffeine as well. If the roast doesn’t bother you, you might want to switch from light to dark.
You have your beans, so now is the time to make sure that your coffee is not under-extracted, which can generally cause more acidity. Under-extraction usually happens when you have beans that are grinded in a way that are too coarse, or when you’re brewing for too short of a time.
When you brew with a coarse grind, this will slow down extraction since there’s less surface area, making the coffee itself acidic. Try brewing with a finer grind that has more surface area and therefore speeds up the extraction of flavor without leaving you with coffee that’s too acidic.
Your brewing method can affect the extraction in your beans, so keep an eye on how you’re brewing.
Speaking of extraction, you can also shorten your brew time to reduce the acidity of your coffee. The longer your beans stay in that hot water, the more acid will be extracted from your coffee, so try and brew your coffee with a shorter brew time overall.
You might be using a metal mesh when you brew your coffee, and if you are, you’ll actually want to switch to a paper filter. A paper filter will do a better job at getting rod of some of those oils that add more acidity when you brew, so using one of these will help you have a more balanced cup.
Type of Water
All coffee is made from water, so it only makes sense that the type of water you use will affect the acidity of your coffee. Try using hard water instead of soft water, since hard water contains calcium, and calcium is a base. That calcium will help neutralize the acids in your coffee. On the other hand, there’s sodium in soft water that can actually increase the acidity in your coffee.
If you have the ability to affect the type of water in your coffee, it’s best to go for hard water then.
Even with beans like arabica beans, your coffee might still be too acidic. One of the best things to try then is adjusting the hotness of your water. Even if you can’t brew your coffee cold brew because you’re rushing around to leave the house, you can still adjust the heat.
Avoid heating your water up too much, because water that’s too hot will release the oils in the coffee that makes it more acidic. You’ll still have tons of flavor, but not as much of that acidity.
Keeping Your Coffee Hot
This is a funny one, but have you ever decided to brew your coffee and then put it in a thermos? To keep it hot so that you don’t need to brew another pot or so that you can enjoy it later. This is a convenient way to enjoy coffee throughout your day, but this will also make your coffee more acidic, since having the coffee remain hot will lead to the oils in the coffee releasing even more acids—making your coffee that much more acidic.
You might want to have a hot cup later, but a better way to do this is to cool it before you store it and just heat up your coffee later. You might even go all out and cold brew your coffee in advance so heating up your coffee isn’t a problem when you need it.
Add an Acid Reducer
Believe it or not, coffee makers know and understand that some people have a sensitivity to acidity. That’s why there’s such a thing as acid reducers, which are made to produce a chemical reaction that will neutralize some of that acid. They aren’t actually that expensive either, and can be picked up from any coffee store.
The best part? Acid reducers don’t alter the flavor of the coffee, but with some good reducers, you can lower the acidity by up to 90 percent. At this point, you shouldn’t have to worry about getting any heartburn when you finish your morning cup.
Add Egg Shells
Okay, this one might sound a little bit odd, but it does actually work. This is because eggshells have something called alkaline calcium, and alkaline is a base. Adding a base to an acid will reduce the acidity—it’s just science!
Now, please don’t just add raw eggs to any part of your coffee. If you have two eggshells, you’re going to want to clean and crush those eggshells to start. Add them not to the coffee, but to the coffee grounds when you’re brewing. Your coffee should taste the same, but shouldn’t be nearly as acidic.
Remember: add them to the coffee grounds. Not directly to an already made cup of coffee.
Add Baking Soda or Salt
So, you probably don’t want to drink salty coffee, and you don’t have to either. The whole point of adding either of these is to add the right amount so that you don’t end up with a different flavor—and once again, to add them in before you brew. You will not put baking soda or salt directly in a cup of already made coffee.
Just add salt into the coffee grounds before you brew to reduce the acidity and hopefully any acid reflux issues as well. You can do the same thing with baking soda, but with both of these, make sure that you’re using the right amount.
Think perhaps one-quarter teaspoon of salt for every six tablespoons of grounds—you don’t need a whole lot, but it will work. It will work better than sugar as well.
You might already be doing this, but if you aren’t, perhaps you might think about choosing milk or creamer that you might like to try since either of these will help to balance out the acidity in your coffee.
Now, we do need to point out that this method works better with dark roasts since light roasts don’t tend to take milk super well. Also, if you like soy milk, you might want to avoid this method in general—since soy milk will curdle if you add it to acidic coffee. Once you switch to dark roast coffee, this may be the option for you.
Ultimately, you have a lot of methods that you can use when you would like to reduce the acidity of your coffee. You can try one of these methods to see if they work, or you might want to see if there are a few methods that work the best altogether. It’s a process to figure out how you might want to have your coffee, and if one method doesn’t work for you right away, it’s alright to try something else.
In the end, no matter which method you try, you should be able to relax knowing that you can have your cup of coffee without any problems.