A morning cup of coffee or afternoon pick-me-up is a ritual for millions of people around the world. What effect does all that joe have on your health?
This article on the coffee acidity chart is a definitive guide to coffee acidity and its effects. Read on to learn ways to reduce the acidity of your coffee and enjoy it without worry.
What Is Acidity?
Acidity refers to the quality or state of a substance as an acid chemical. Every liquid has a pH. When you dip blue litmus paper into an acidic liquid, it will turn red.
The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14. A liquid with a pH of 7 is neutral. Liquids that test 7.1-14 are known as bases (or alkaline), while those that test below 7 are acidic in nature.
What does pH mean? In chemistry, pH means the potential of hydrogen. A lower pH level means a higher concentration of hydrogen ions. That concentration of hydrogen ions creates the potential for corrosion.
We are concerned with the corrosive potential of foods because they can affect living tissue. Just like hard water can corrode your pipes, acidic foods can cause reflux symptoms.
Reflux symptoms include a burning sensation in the chest, a sour taste or liquid backwash, and abdominal pain. Knowing the acidity of your favorite coffee helps you make informed choices, especially if you suffer from reflux symptoms.
If you have new reflux, the culprit may be coffee. Before you give up your morning cup, keep reading for some tips to avoid or reduce acidity in your coffee.
Is Coffee Acidic?
Yes, most coffee is acidic. The average pH for coffee ranges from 4.85 to 5.10. For reference, bananas have an average pH of 5, and lemon juice has a pH of 2.
Three factors that affect coffee acidity are brewing, roasting, and ground size.
Brewing a batch of coffee unleashes nine unique acids. From greatest to least concentrations these acids are:
- Chlorogenic acids
- Acetic acid
- Phosphoric acid
How you brew your coffee seems to affect acidity too. According to research, cold-brewing coffee lowers acidity substantially compared to hot coffee.
Another study found that brewing time alters the acidity in your cup. A long brew time makes it more acidic, while medium-length brewing durations make it less acidic.
The same study found that the size of your coffee grounds alters how acidic the final product is. Finely ground beans have more surface area for the water to contact relative to their volume. The water will extract more acid from a fine grind than a coarse one.
Yet another study suggested that roasting time and temperature affect acidity too. Coffee roasters make dark and bold roasts by heating the beans to a high temperature for a long time. This dark roast coffee has low acidity.
Lighter roasts have high acidity since the beans roast at lower relative temperatures for less time.
Acidity in Coffee – Friend or Foe?
The acids released during brewing contribute to the more complex flavors that coffee drinkers enjoy. Those same acids can also aggravate conditions like IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and acid reflux. There are more pros and cons to acidity in coffee too.
Another condition that coffee can exacerbate is GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). Anytime you eat or drink, your body produces gastric or stomach acid to digest it. GERD is a chronic condition where the sufferer experiences reflux symptoms frequently. Acidic foods easily trigger a bout of symptoms.
Coffee’s acids are not all bad news. The highest concentrated acid in coffee, chlorogenic acid, may help you lose weight.
According to the US National Library of Medicine, this acid may reduce glucose intake in the body. Participants in the study who received chlorogenic acid-enriched coffee lost more weight than the control group.
The acids also add their unique flavors to your morning cup of coffee. Hints of lemon and orange come from citric acid. Green apples get their zing from malic acid. It adds a sharp edge to coffee too. Dark roasts have higher amounts of quinic acid which causes bitterness. This is why dark roasts often taste more bitter than light roasts.
You can put your used coffee grounds to work in your garden. They enrich the soil and help your flowers and vegetables grow healthy and strong. Some coffee houses offer their spent grounds for free to gardeners who want them.
What Is the pH of Coffee?
Coffee is an intricate beverage whose final composition has appreciable variables. The species of coffee bean, where it grows, roasting, grinding, and brewing all affect the acidity.
Based on variables, coffee’s ph varies from 4.85 to 5.10 including low-acid coffees.
When not accounting for low-acid coffee, the average cup of coffee has a pH between 5 and 5.03. For comparison, tomato juice has a pH of 4.5, orange juice has a pH of 3.9, and baking soda has an average pH of 8.4. Considering the pH scale and other liquids we commonly consume, coffee is mildly acidic.
Cold Brew coffee tends to have a higher pH making it less acidic than hot brewed coffee. The hot water in regular brewing extracts more oils and acids from the grounds. The pH of cold brew ranges from 4.85 to 5.13.
While some of the acids in coffee come from caffeine, decaf coffee does not necessarily have a higher pH than regular coffee. The variation for decaf coffee varies similarly to regular coffee with a pH range of 4.7 to 5.
Coffee Acid and Health
Coffee acid has various effects on your health.
Besides potential help with weight loss, coffee may reduce your risk of some diseases. Coffee is packed full of antioxidants. Antioxidants protect your cells from damage by free radicals. Boosting your antioxidant intake reduces your risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Millions of people enjoy the morning jump-start they get from coffee. Four studies found that the cognitive benefits of coffee may extend beyond a pick-me-up. They found that coffee consumption reduced the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
While some studies show benefits to drinking coffee, we can’t overlook the possible detriments to your health. Along with the gastrointestinal consequences mentioned above, too much coffee can cause anxiety and insomnia. Although, these symptoms come from caffeine, not acidity.
Tips To Help You Avoid or Reduce Acidic Coffee
With plenty of reasons to consider reducing your coffee’s acidity, here are some tips to help you enjoy a delicious cup of coffee with fewer health worries.
#1 Try Low-Acid Coffee Beans
Some coffee beans produce more acidic coffee than others. One way to reduce your acid intake from coffee is to choose low-acid beans.
The two largest categories of coffee beans are Arabica and Robusta. Arabica beans have less acidity than Robusta beans. Checking the label will tell you what kind of beans you’re buying. Look out for low-acid coffee brands.
#2 Try Cold Brew
As mentioned above, cold brew coffee has significantly lower acidity than hot coffee. If you already like cool coffee beverages, this switch will be easy.
When you order iced coffee at Starbucks or other coffee houses, they brew it as usual and then refrigerate it. Cold brewing means steeping the beans in cold water overnight. Most cafes charge a little more for cold brew than iced coffee, but the switch is worth it. You’ll get less acidic coffee and a more robust flavor.
#3 Try Dark Roasts
We saw that the roasting process has a considerable impact on coffee acidity. Switching to dark roast cuts your acid intake while allowing you to enjoy your morning joe.
You can identify light roast by checking the label on the coffee. Most companies have an indicator to tell you whether a roast is light, medium, or dark. If there is no indicator on the packaging, look for keywords like Bold, Dark, Light, or Blonde.
#4 Try a Shorter Brewing Method
The amount of time the coffee spends in the water affects acidity too. A longer brew draws more oils and acids from the beans resulting in more acidic coffee. Try a French press or percolator.
#5 Try Coarse Grinding Your Coffee
Many coffee lovers could debate the merits of whole-bean versus pre-ground coffee. It’s a balance between taste and convenience.
If you want to cut back acidity in your coffee, buying a bag of whole beans and grinding it yourself can help that goal. Most manufacturers produce their pre-ground coffee to their preferred specifications. Some companies provide coarse grounds, but grinding your beans at home guarantees you get your preferred grind.
#6 Enjoy Coffee in Moderation
Some negative effects from acid in coffee only bother you when you overindulge. For relatively healthy adults, low to moderate coffee consumption is perfectly safe. If you find yourself experiencing the symptoms mentioned above, cut back on your coffee intake.
Coffee has a long list of pros and cons. For most healthy adults, enjoying a few daily cups may have positive health effects. Those with reflux issues might have some uncomfortable symptoms due to coffee acid. The good news is that you can mitigate the effects and enjoy an occasional coffee.