As long as you remember that moderation is key, there are several health benefits that come along with drinking coffee regularly. Not only does coffee provide a much-needed energy boost for many people, but it also promotes a healthy heart, increases mental sharpness, and it’s even thought to protect against cancer.
Unfortunately, the taste of coffee isn't for everyone, and many people find it too acidic to enjoy. If that’s the case for you, you’re in luck; there are a number of ways to reduce the acidity levels in coffee, so if you want to learn how, check out this complete guide on how to make coffee less acidic.
What Acids Are In Your Coffee?
Before getting into the details on what causes the acidity in coffee, you should know that “acidity” isn’t necessarily a negative term.
When someone talks about acidity in reference to coffee, they’re not talking about harmful acids that produce a sour taste or upset stomach.
Instead of referring to a number on the pH scale, coffee acidity actually refers to the beans’ flavor profiles.
That being said, there are, in fact, acids in your coffee, and the way beans are roasted plays a significant role in finding the right acidity balance.
Roasting affects the two main types of acids found in coffee, which are:
Chlorogenic Acids - Before coffee goes through the roasting process, it contains a large number of chlorogenic acids, which are actually acids that double as antioxidants and are present in coffee’s natural state prior to roasting.
Chlorogenic acids degrade during roasting, so the longer and darker the roast, the fewer chlorogenic acids there will be. This is a big reason why light-roasted coffee generally has a higher acidity level.
Quinic Acids - When chlorogenic acids degrade from roasting, they form quinic acids. This type of acid affects the astringency of a coffee beverage, so the more quinic acids present, the more acidic/astringent it will taste. Because more chlorogenic acids are broken down in dark-roasted coffee, dark roast beans have a higher content of quinic acids. This is why some people find dark roast blends to be too harsh on the stomach.
3 Important Factors That Affect Coffee Acidity
Roasting isn’t the only thing that affects coffee acidity. In addition to roasting time, the method for grinding beans and the style of brewing both play a role in acidity. Here’s a breakdown of how each one affects the acidity in your coffee:
Roasting time is the biggest factor in determining the acidity flavor profile of coffee beans. As mentioned earlier, lighter roasts tend to have more chlorogenic acids, which have lots of antioxidants and health benefits. Darker roasts tend to have less chlorogenic acids but more quinic acids, which don’t agree with everyone’s digestive systems.
Depending on the method for brewing, your coffee may have a very high or very low acidity flavor profile. It has a lot to do with brewing time; shorter duration brews often result in a more acidic beverage, and moderate to long-duration brewing results in less acidity.
However, some people argue that the opposite is true and that more acid is extracted when the coffee goes through a long-brewing process, increasing overall acidity. In this case, it all comes down to personal preference and which brewing method you prefer and find to be less acidic.
Believe it or not, the consistency of your ground coffee can also affect how acidic the beverage is. Finer grinding tends to result in a more acidic cup of joe, and that’s because smaller grounds have a greater surface area exposed (relative to volume), which means more acid is extracted during the brewing process.
How To Make Coffee Less Acidic? 8 Easy Ways
Even though coffee is naturally acidic, and that acidity adds to the strong flavor profile, some people just aren’t a fan of drinking highly-acidic beverages. Whether you don’t like the taste or it’s hard on your stomach, here are 8 things you can do to make your coffee less acidic:
1. Cold Brew Your Coffee
One of the easiest (and most effective) ways to minimize acidity in coffee is to use a cold brewing method. Cold brew coffee is notorious for having lower acidity than most other brewing methods, and there are a few reasons for that.
The main reason is that cold water doesn't extract as much acid from the coffee beans as hot water. Acids are found in the oils of the coffee beans, and these oils require high temperatures to release the acids. With cold brewing, that's not possible because the water temperature is, well, cold.
Of course, you need to be patient if you plan to cold brew your coffee, and you need to plan ahead. Cold brewing can take anywhere from 12 to 24 hours, but the good news is that it results in a cup of coffee with about 70% less acid compared to hot-brewed coffee.
2. Pay Attention To Brewing Water Temperatures
This next method for making coffee less acidic goes hand in hand with cold brewing. Even if you’re not a fan of cold-brewing and the time it requires, you can still lower coffee acidity by paying attention to the temperature of the water you use to brew.
Remember, higher temperatures make it easier for the oils to release the acids that are contained within them, so avoid using temperatures that are too high. If you want a great-tasting cup of coffee with a low acidity content, the ideal temperature range for brewing is between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit.
3. Use Salt Or Baking Soda
As long as you use the right quantity and don’t overdo it, adding salt or baking soda to your coffee can reduce acid significantly.
This is because baking soda and salt are both highly alkaline with a pH level of ~9, so adding it to your coffee (which has a pH of around 5) can help to balance things out quite well and increase the pH level. Not only is this an easy method, but it's also relatively cheap, especially since you probably already have baking soda/salt in your kitchen cabinet.
Wondering how to make coffee less acidic with baking soda? All you need is to add a pinch of baking soda or salt to your cup of coffee - that’s it! Just be sure not to use too much; nobody likes salty-tasting coffee!
4. Use Hard Water When Brewing
The quality of the water you use to brew plays a huge role in how your coffee will taste, and it can even help to lower its acidity.
Hard water is rich in minerals, such as calcium, and these minerals can work to neutralize the coffee acids and make them less noticeable. In comparison, soft water doesn't contain many minerals, and it has a higher sodium content, which will ultimately add to the acidity and make it more noticeable.
5. Mix Coffee Grounds With Egg Shells
Just as hard water contains lots of calcium, so do eggshells. The calcium in eggshells is highly alkaline, so using this alkalinity to balance out the natural acidity in your coffee can work wonders on the beverage’s overall taste and flavor profile.
Want to learn how to use eggshells to make coffee less acidic? It’s easy… Save some of those eggshells you used for your morning omelet, clean them well, and crush them using a mortar and pestle, or even a coffee grinder. Once they’re evenly crushed, add the shells to your coffee grounds, and brew as you normally would.
6. Use Paper Filters
Another easy method for making brewed coffee less acidic is to use a paper filter for brewing. Many coffee machines come with mesh filtering baskets that don’t require a paper filter, but what you might not realize is that paper filters offer some benefits to the brewing process - like reducing coffee acidity.
This is because the paper traps some of the oils and fats that are released from the coffee grounds during the brewing process. The acids are contained in these oils, so by trapping them and preventing them from reaching the pot or mug, you'll be left with a much less acidic beverage.
7. Change Your Grind Consistency
If you grind your own coffee, try to avoid grinding the beans too fine since this can result in higher acidity. Finely ground beans have a larger surface area compared to coarsely ground beans, which means there’s more surface area for acids to be extracted, resulting in a more acidic cup.
The easy solution to slow down acid extraction during brewing is to grind your coffee more coarsely - even a medium-grind consistency will do just fine.
8. Turn To Acid Reducing Products
If you’re no stranger to acid reflux, then you’ve probably already resorted to taking acid reducers and acid relief products. As it turns out, there are some acid-reducing products on the market that are specifically meant to reduce acid in coffee.
Using an acid reducer (the Coffee Tamer brand is best) works similarly to using eggshells or salt, only it’s even more effective. Adding a tablet or sprinkling the powder into your coffee triggers a chemical reaction that can reduce the acidity in coffee by as much as 90%.
People Also Ask (FAQs)
Does cream make coffee less acidic?
Yes, using milk or cream helps to balance out the pH level in coffee and neutralize some of its acidity. If you’re lactose intolerant or vegan, you can use a non-dairy milk alternative instead, like almond milk, coconut milk, or soy milk.
Does coffee get more acidic the longer it sits?
Yes. When coffee sits out for long periods of time without being consumed, it has more time to react with oxygen. This oxidation changes the flavor profile of the coffee, which results in a more bitter, stale taste. The oxidation also raises the pH level of the coffee, making it taste less fresh and more acidic.
Is decaf coffee okay for acid reflux?
Depending on how they’re roasted and brewed, decaf coffee beans can still have some level of acidity. That said, decaffeinated beans are often better for people who are sensitive to acids, mainly because the human stomach generates more acid when caffeine is present.
If you want a decaf coffee that is best for sensitive stomachs and acid reflux, go with beans that have been decaffeinated using the mountain water process; this is the most effective for removing caffeine without the use of harsh chemicals so it’s the most gentle coffee for digestion.
Is light roast coffee less acidic?
Actually, no. Surprisingly enough, lightly roasted coffee beans generally have higher acidity levels than dark roasted beans. The longer the roasting process, the more acids are degraded, and since light roast coffees are only roasted for a short time, much of the acid remains.
What are the benefits of making coffee less acidic?
Removing some of the acidity in your coffee has a few significant benefits, but the main one is that it's a lot gentler on the digestive system. If you're prone to acid reflux, this will be especially helpful for you, and your stomach will thank you.
Another benefit of lowering coffee acidity is that it’s less harsh on the teeth. Acidity in our food and drinks can break down tooth enamel over time, so you can improve oral health by following some of the advice in this guide.
Yes, coffee is naturally acidic, but there’s a lot that determines just how acidic your coffee will be. Factors like roasting, brewing, and grinding all play a role in coffee acidity, so if you prefer a low-acidity coffee, always consider the roasting style, brewing method, and grind consistency that you choose.
On top of keeping these things in mind, you might try other methods for reducing acidity, like changing the temperature of the water you use to brew, adding some milk to your morning mug, or even mixing your coffee grounds with eggshells.