Caffeine often makes the list of things to avoid if you’re looking for coffee heartburn triggers. While you should limit caffeine if you’ve found that it’s the culprit behind your reflux symptoms, there are many ways to avoid heartburn.
As far as whether coffee drinking is good or bad for you, it depends. Not all coffees are created equal, and not all brews will cause heartburn.
Why does coffee give me heartburn? Coffee may give you heartburn because too much caffeine can relax muscles at the lower end of your esophagus or the lower esophageal sphincter (LES).
This allows an opening for stomach acid to travel up to the esophagus, cause acid reflux and keep you popping antacids.
Symptoms include a burning sensation in your chest after you eat or drink, chest pain, and a burning, acidic taste at the back of your throat.
Coffee doesn’t necessarily cause heartburn. Studies haven’t been able to link coffee consumption with acid reflux directly.
Try these tips to stop heartburn if you still want caffeine and the health benefits of coffee.
1. Drink Low Acid Coffee
The acidity in coffee can trigger stomach problems even in those without a history of heartburn symptoms. Coffee is a naturally acidic beverage. It can cause discomfort and indigestion in some, particularly those sensitive to acid in their foods and drinks.
It’s what led the founder of Golden Ratio to get into the low-acid coffee game.
What coffee does not cause heartburn? A coffee that does not cause heartburn is low-acid, gold roast coffee. Drinking a low-acid coffee may not only taste like a smoother, less bitter experience, but it may also be gentler on digestion.
On top of heartburn symptoms, a low-acid coffee can help with IBS symptoms, too, as it’s generally more delicate on your digestive system.
It does all that while retaining the caffeine benefits of coffee.
2. Reduce Inflammatories
Cream and sugar added to your coffee may be what’s causing your heartburn.
Some have found adding milk to their coffee eases heartburn symptoms, but many find it only adds to their distress. High-fat milk and creamers are known triggers for heartburn, and they’re bad for any level of lactose intolerance.
Sugars and artificial sweeteners have been linked to belly bloat and overall inflammation in the body. They’re difficult to digest, potentially exacerbating any heartburn symptoms you’re already experiencing.
The only way to single out the additives in your cup causing your heartburn is to isolate those potential triggers ingredient by ingredient.
Try a cup of coffee without any added milk or sugar and see whether it’s the caffeine to blame. You may need to switch to plant-based milk, natural sweeteners, or black coffee.
A smoother, low-acid coffee that lacks the bitterness of other roasts may not need all of those add-ons anyway.
3. Monitor Caffeine
Caffeine is always best enjoyed in moderation. Even healthy adults should limit their caffeine intake to avoid caffeine withdrawal if they quit coffee down the line.
The limit for healthy adults is 400mg per day or the equivalent of about 4 cups of coffee, per the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Keep in mind that caffeine content varies by roast level, too. A light roast will have more caffeine than a dark roast, so a little bit can go a long way.
Too much caffeine can also increase belly bloat, anxiety and disrupt sleep. When enjoyed in moderation, caffeinated coffee is a safe dietary choice.
If any amount of caffeine is causing you gastrointestinal distress, seek out medical advice from your doctor about whether it’s the effect of coffee or something else giving you trouble.
A gastroenterology specialist can help you understand your triggers and how to avoid heartburn symptoms altogether.
4. Consume Quality Coffee
Upgrade your coffee consumption by choosing high-quality arabica coffee beans. Seek out brands that source ethically. Avoid highly-processed instant coffee blends or coffees with artificial flavors and colors.
Become an expert in reading labels when shopping for any new type of coffee.
The same rules apply if you’re seeking to cut caffeine out entirely with decaffeinated coffee.
Do I need to drink decaf coffee if I have heartburn? If you have heartburn caused by the caffeine in coffee, decaf coffee may help alleviate heartburn symptoms. But for some, a low-acid, gold roast is enough to relieve their symptoms.
Decaffeination involves a process where the beans are soaked in solvents before they get to the consumer.
This process has been deemed safe by federal agencies, but it may not be an excellent option for coffee drinkers seeking beverages that aren’t highly processed.
5. Experiment With Brewing Methods
If your coffee is served with a side of stomach distress, switching up your brewing method may help.
You could try a cold brew coffee, which typically has less acid.
Some studies have shown that cold brew has a lower acid level than hot coffee because of the chemical reaction when hot water hits coffee grounds.
If you’re used to French press-style or metal-filtered coffees, switching to high-quality paper filters may also reduce some distress over time. Paper filters remove most of the cafestol found in some coffees. Cafestol is a compound linked to increases in LDL cholesterol or the “bad” cholesterol.
High cholesterol and heartburn are often found in GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) sufferers, and lifestyle changes are vital in heartburn management plans.
6. Find Other Triggers
There are common triggers associated with heartburn symptoms outside of caffeine:
- Spicy foods (including spices like black pepper, garlic, chili powder)
- Raw onions
- Citrus fruits
- Fatty foods
- Fried foods
- Carbonated beverages
- Processed snacks
- Tomatoes (including sauces, salsas, and ketchup)
- Late-night snacks
- Prescription medications
- Acidic foods
Triggers vary from person to person, and there may be something on the list that doesn’t interrupt your quality of life.
If you suffer from heartburn symptoms, you may not know all your triggers until you consume them. Symptom management may mean identifying triggers one at a time and making dietary changes from there.
Gastroenterologists generally agree that highly acidic or high-fat foods are more likely to cause heartburn, and eating right before bed should be avoided.
Can I drink coffee with GERD?
You can drink coffee with GERD if you avoid the other triggers associated with heartburn.
GERD symptoms benefit from lifestyle changes like weight loss, adjusted sleep patterns, delays in between exercise and eating, and over-the-counter medications.
Many people with heartburn are still able to drink coffee in moderation without symptoms at all.
Drink Coffee and Get Rid of Heartburn
You can have coffee and avoid heartburn. A low-acid option like Golden Ratio is a delicious way to keep the caffeine without adding to your stomach distress.
Our coffees retain all the flavors of the coffee you love without the bitterness and acidity in regular brews. Try our Chai Spiced Gold Coffee for added spice or our Vanilla Coconut Gold Coffee for something sweet.
Not sure where to start? Try our best-selling variety pack to get yourself acquainted with the Golden Ratio difference.
- Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
- Association between coffee intake and gastroesophageal reflux disease: a meta-analysis
- High Intake of Sugar and the Balance between Pro- and Anti-Inflammatory Gut Bacteria
- Acidity and Antioxidant Activity of Cold Brew Coffee
- Cafestol, the cholesterol-raising factor in boiled coffee, suppresses bile acid synthesis by downregulation of cholesterol 7 alpha-hydroxylase and sterol 27-hydroxylase in rat hepatocytes
- Elimination of Dietary Triggers Is Successful in Treating Symptoms of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease