If you've got a sensitive stomach then you need to watch out for acidic foods and drinks.
Coffee is naturally acidic, and many people have started switching to decaf to avoid gastrointestinal problems.
The issue is that decaf coffee has basically the same pH, so it's no less acidic (technically).
However, the ingredients and natural acids within decaf coffee are different and impact your body differently.
It's a little complicated but we've explored all the science behind regular and decaf.
So keep reading, and in just a few minutes you'll know exactly how decaf will impact your body and whether it's the right option for you.
How Acidic Is Decaf Coffee? (Is It Less Than Regular Coffee?)
Some coffee lovers can't hack the caffeine, so decaffeinated coffee (or decaf coffee) was developed. This is very similar to regular delicious coffee, but without the caffeine.
Decaf coffee doesn’t come from any specific type of coffee bean. Instead, the majority of the caffeine in it is extracted using the Swiss Water method or organic chemical solvents.
Only a tiny fraction of caffeine is found in decaf, but this amount is not enough to give you that kick from a regular coffee.
Before we discuss the acidity of decaf coffee, you need to understand first what acidic coffee means. There are two things to consider:
- The pH level of the coffee itself
- The natural acids contained within the coffee
The pH level of regular, caffeinated coffee is around 5. To put that in perspective, the citric acid found in oranges and lemons is 2 on the pH scale, so coffee has a very mild acidity.
Decaffeinated coffee also has a pH of about 5, which means it's actually very similar to regular coffee. It can sometimes have a slightly lower acidity, but it's generally the same.
Acids In Coffee
Similar to other foods, coffee naturally has different organic acids. You can find citric acid, malic acid, acetic acid, quinic acid, and tartaric acids in every coffee bean.
These acids can actually have health benefits, and they're what gives your cup of coffee the taste and flavor.
These acids are naturally found in the coffee beans or both regular and decaf coffees, however, roasting coffee beans can change coffee’s acid content.
Some brew methods make them more active, while some completely roast them away.
Decaf coffee contains fewer acids than regular coffee. You can also buy specific low acid coffees from most stores if you're likely to get an upset stomach.
So, Is Decaf Coffee Acidic?
This means that decaf coffee contains less acid than regular coffee. This makes this type of coffee an excellent alternative for people trying to stay away from acids.
The caffeine also has an impact on the acidity of your coffee.
Even if a coffee bean contains less acid than dark roasts, it can still be acidic. This is because caffeine can cause stomach cells to produce more acid and cause you to get an upset stomach.
This is why regular coffee is more acidic than decaf because naturally, it has no caffeine.
So, if you find yourself getting acidic from your java, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the coffee you’re drinking has a lot of acid in it. In most cases, it’s just highly caffeinated.
Is Decaf Coffee Good For Acid Reflux? (Is It Easier On The Stomach?)
Acid reflux is one of the most common stomach problems seen in hospitals in the United States.
This common condition usually comes with burning pain in the lower chest area, known as heartburn. It happens when the acid in your gut regurgitates or flows back to your food pipe.
According to the American College of Gastroenterology, there are over 60 million Americans who experience heartburn at least once a month and at least 15 million who experience them daily.
If acid reflux occurs more than twice a week, it is diagnosed as Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
How Does Coffee Cause Acid Reflux?
Strangely enough, it's not actually the acidity of caffeinated coffee which causes acid reflux. It's the caffeine content which can cause heartburn and trigger acid reflux.
The caffeine from green coffee beans is still and will always be a potential trigger for heartburn and Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
That's why it's often recommended that you limit your caffeine intake if you have a sensitive stomach.
So Does Decaf Coffee Cause Acid Reflux?
Decaf coffee is still acidic, but since some of the coffee’s acids and caffeine are extracted, it’s less likely to cause heartburn or trigger any acid reflux than caffeinated coffee.
This is because caffeine can cause your stomach to produce more acid. Its absence makes your gut more peaceful as it is easy on your stomach.
This is why even low acid coffee beans can trigger your acid reflux. Regular coffee contains significant amounts of caffeine, even higher than tea and coffee.
But decaf has less to none of this component, making it a great option for a coffee lover who doesn't want to give up their brew!
Other Health Benefits Of Drinking Decaf
Decaf coffee isn't just easier on your stomach because of the lack or caffeine and low acidity. Here are the key health benefits:
- Full of antioxidants which are good for your immune system
- Lowers the likelihood of type 2 diabetes and some cancers
- Makes it easier to get a good night's sleep
- Actually hydrates you (unlike highly caffeinated drinks like cold brew coffee which do the opposite)
- No caffeine crash
Which Decaf Coffee Has The Least Acid?
If you’re looking for low acid coffee, whether decaf or not, you’ll come across two types:
- Treated low acid coffee
- Inadvertent low acid coffee
Treated low acid coffee pertains to beans produced from special processing techniques to intentionally lower their acid contents.
One example is Brazilian coffee roasted using a slow or interrupted process to make it less acidic. Another way is by steaming the coffee beans to remove their waxy coating before roasting.
On the other hand, inadvertent low acid coffee is coffee that naturally contains lesser acids.
Generally, coffee cultivated in low elevations tends to lack acid content. Beans from countries such as Brazil, Guatemala, Peru, and Mexico naturally produce fewer acids.
Popular Decaf Coffee with Low Acid
If you want to continue enjoying coffee at home, here are some popular decaf coffee brands that are low in acids:
How Do You Make Coffee Less Acidic?
If you want to lower the acid content of your cup, you can try some of the methods below. However, you should note that they are not scientifically proven, so try them at your own risk.
Opt for a coarser grind
Coarser grinds are less likely to be over-extracted. In addition, the small surface area makes it difficult for some of the acids to be extracted from the grounds.
Use the cold brew method over a hot brew
Cold water or room temperature water is less likely to bring out the acids of the coffee compared to using hot water.
Add eggshells or baking soda to your drink
Adding one of these two things can reduce the high concentrations of your coffee. However, this isn’t recommended as it can lead to a foul-tasting cup.
Frequently Asked Decaf Coffee Acidity Questions
Is light or dark roast coffee less acidic?
Dark roast coffee is less acidic than light roast as it contains fewer components that can trigger your stomach to produce acid.
Can decaf coffee cause heart palpitations?
No, it doesn’t. If you’re having palpitations after drinking decaf coffee, be sure to consult your doctor.
Decaf coffee is still technically acidic, but it's less acidic than regular coffee. This is because there are fewer natural acids, and there's much less caffeine which can cause issues in your stomach.
Decaf is a better option for those with gastrointestinal problems. However, don’t abuse your stomach by still consuming more than regular cups of coffee.
Even if decaf is good for acid reflux, consuming more than necessary may still lead to health issues.