Coffee is one of the best-loved beverages in the world. There’s so much to love, but one big drawback: the acidity can cause upset stomachs and discomfort. That is, until now.
Low acid coffee is engineered for lower acidity and less discomfort on the stomach. And it’s growing in popularity.
We’ve done the research for you. We’ve sorted through the beans, brands, and benefits to bring you the best of low acid coffee.
Does regular coffee have acid in it?
Regular coffee doesn’t have the sort of acid like a Bond villain might fall into. But regular coffee is almost always on the acidic side of the pH scale. The depth of the roast can determine coffee acidity, as can the brewing method used.
How acidic is coffee? Most coffee is acidic, with a pH level between 4.85 and 5.13. (Pure water is neutral with a pH of 7.) This is less acidic than some beers or sodas. But since most coffee lovers drink multiple cups per day, all that acidity can accumulate.
Why does coffee cause problems for some people? For some people, the acid in coffee can exacerbate underlying issues like IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), acid reflux, heartburn, and other digestive problems. In others, there is no medical condition, but the acidity in coffee simply leaves them feeling unwell.
In small amounts, the acid in coffee gives some of the bold, bright, and vibrant taste that we love. Some acid in coffee is even good for us.
Coffee contains roughly 30 different naturally occurring acids, but there are two that you’ll need to know about:
- Good: Chlorogenic acid. This is the acid in coffee that’s packed with antioxidants, providing a variety of health benefits. The longer coffee is roasted, the lower its concentration of chlorogenic acid.
- Bad: Quinic acid. This byproduct of the coffee roasting process is what can upset your stomach. Higher concentrations of quinic acid occur in coffee and espresso that have been reheated, burned, or left out to sit for too long.
To avoid unpleasant quinic acid that can cause an upset stomach, choose lighter roasts, don’t drink old coffee, and don’t overheat your drink.
What is low acid coffee?
Low acid coffee is coffee that’s been either brewed or treated to have little-to-no quinic acid. The pH level sits much closer to a neutral level than typical coffee. Most low acid coffee has a pH of about 6. (Pure water is neutral at a pH of 7.)
What is the least acidic coffee? The least acidic coffee is lighter roast coffees that haven’t been overheated or left to sit out for a long time. Golden Ratio coffee is an excellent example of high-quality, low acid coffee.
This is the perfect choice for coffee drinkers suffering from digestive issues, or those who don’t like the bitter taste of dark roast coffee.
It also is a way for GERD sufferers to get their caffeine fix. Up to 40% of the U.S. population has symptoms of GERD, a condition where the contents of your stomach come back into your esophagus at least twice a week. Low acid coffee prevents the issue from occurring in the first place.
Some regions naturally grow coffee that has a lower acid content, including:
- Sumatra, an island in Indonesia
Low acid coffee can be the answer to many concerns about safety or stomach issues that can arise from a daily drip.
Downsides of Regular Acidic Coffee
A regular acidic coffee can have unpleasant side effects. A few of the downsides from drinking traditional coffee include:
- Wear and stain on teeth.Acidic coffee can be hard on enamel, creating discoloration and eroding the hard outer layer of the tooth.
- Aggravates IBS symptoms.The acid in coffee can be hard on IBS patients, irritating the intestinal lining. Patients with gastric ulcers may also find regular coffee painful.
- Laxative effect.The acidity in coffee can make some drinkers need to use the restroom more often or more urgently.
Fortunately, low acid coffee can offer several health benefits and far fewer drawbacks.
4 Benefits of Low Acid Coffee
Low acid coffee can do even more than soothe the digestive system. Here are the best aspects of drinking a coffee with low acidity:
- Gentler on digestion. For those with IBS, gastric ulcers, and even gluten or dairy intolerances, low acid coffee can provide a pain-free jolt of caffeine and flavor.
- Safer for teeth. A low acid blend has less damaging effects on teeth.
- More workout-friendly. Acid reflux and symptoms of GERD are more likely to occur when exercising. Low acid coffee may help fitness enthusiasts avoid the burning sensation and get back to their workout.
- Potentially higher level of antioxidants. Research suggests that less roasting time yields a higher level of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties in low acid coffee.
Low acid coffee touts the amazing benefits of caffeine without the drawbacks of higher acid levels.
8 Best Brands of Low Acid Coffee
When it comes to low acid coffee, not all options are equally balanced and flavorful. We’ve compiled the list of which brands you’ll love and which ones to skip before you sip.
Pros: Golden Ratio’s low acid coffee comes in a range of bold flavors like Chai Spiced Gold Coffee, Vanilla Coconut Gold Coffee, and rotating seasonal offerings. There’s also Gold, for the traditionalist. Packaged in organic cotton in single-serving packets, it’s simple to brew hot or cold.
Golden Ratio boasts a 5x lower acidity than regular coffee. Reviewers say it has a smooth sipping quality, similarly to tea, with very little bitterness. What’s more, it’s all ethically sourced, giving farmers around the world a fair trade for their hard work. Plus, there’s a subscription option!
Cons: As a newer name in the game, Golden Ratio is not in physical stores quite yet. The online store has other goodies, like mugs, but it is still the main place to purchase all their products.
(Did we do a good job staying unbiased? We tried to stick to just the facts.)
Pros: This certified organic coffee is optimized and tested to ensure a low acid content. Lifeboost coffee offers a light, medium, and dark roast. It’s trendy among low acid coffee lovers, with fans and positive reviews aplenty. They even make a decaf coffee and a pod for a Keurig.
Cons: Lifeboost is likely to be sold out in many places. While there’s a wide variety, not much is aimed at specialty coffee drinkers. Some reviewers have called it pricey.
Pros: The Costa Rican beans are available on Amazon and come from farmers and roasters all over the world. The kosher-certified brand also boasts specialty options, like peaberry. Volcanica roasts the coffee after you order it. That’s customization!
Cons: Their website may be difficult for newer coffee drinkers to navigate. Those who don’t love (or understand) the more complex flavors of coffee may not find a great fit in Volcanica.
Lucy Jo’s Coffee Roastery
Pros: This Sumatra blend is a winning choice from coffee makers in upstate New York. It has a nutty, chocolatey blend, and the lowest acid content. They’re also certified organic and have a low acid coffee variety pack for sale.
Cons: Not all of this roastery’s menu is low acid, so tread carefully as you choose your cup.
Tieman’s Fusion Coffee
Pros: This fusion option is a blend of coffee and tea, combining ingredients like matcha green tea and rooibos with goji berry powder. These specialized materials are combined with coffee for an extra-light texture. Tieman’s also packs more antioxidants than an average cup of coffee.
Cons: Tieman’s can often be out of stock, and the pricing runs on the higher side. The aftertaste has a distinct tea note, which may not strike a chord with die-hard coffee fans. Some reviewers say it’s over-roasted.
Puroast Low Acid
Pros: Puroast Low Acid coffee is readily available offline, sold in places like Walmart and some grocery stores. It’s also one of the lowest-priced options on the list. Their dark French roast is a hit, and their beans are roasted the same day they ship.
Cons: There’s no light roast, and not a large amount of variety in the flavors offered.
Pros: This brand gets many of its beans from Colombia, where the rich soil and natural air adds to its full bodied flavor. Fans of Java Planet love their organic coffee with chocolate, nutty notes, and sustainable farming practices. The bags even have the roasting dates on them.
Cons: Java Planet makes specialized coffee blends that, while delicious, tend to sell out fast. A few reviewers have mentioned that it still has an acidic taste, which is not everyone’s preference.
Choosing A Great Low Acid Coffee
If you want a little more information or want some more guidelines to inform your coffee choices, there are some common traits that good low acid coffees share.
Here’s 10 tips on how to choose a great low acid coffee:
- Choose a lighter roast. Longer roasting times and higher heat create more quinic acid that upsets the digestive tract.
- Opt for Arabica coffee. Arabica beans have less acid than Robusta beans, so choose a blend with 100% high-quality Arabica.
- Look for coffee roasted in smaller batches. It’s even better if they roast right before shipping.
- Drink coffee fresh. The longer a cup of coffee sits, the greater release of quinic acid that sours the stomach.
- Brew for a moderate length of time. If you simply must use a medium-dark roast instead of a golden one, make it in a French press or Chemex to keep the acidic content low. Longer brew times can contribute to less acidity.
- Try cold brewing. Cold brew coffee has been shown to contain less acid than its hot counterpart.
- Throw in some additives. Non-dairy milk or creamer can help to cut down on acidity.
- Select a coarse grind. Fine coffee grounds expose more surface area to the brewing process. This allows more acid to find its way into your cup. Opt for a coarser grind, with “chunkier” grounds. Pre-ground coffees tend to be finer, so you may just want to grind at home from whole beans.
- Find beans that hail from a low elevation. Beans grown at a high altitude naturally contain more acids. We also recommend buying fair trade coffee products.
- Look for organically sourced beans. Certified organic growers aren’t allowed to use many common pesticides, and their coffee must be non-GMO. (We like using single-origin organic beans from Nicaragua, Brazil and Ethiopia).
Consider Golden Ratio. Your stomach will thank you.
Our top pick is definitely Golden Ratio. We love low acid coffee so much that we made our own. With our vibrant flavor profiles that are safe for even the most sensitive stomachs, Golden Ratio’s low acid organic coffee is here to deliver beans without the burn.
- Role of roasting conditions in the level of chlorogenic acid content in coffee beans: correlation with coffee acidity.
- GERD Symptoms in the General Population: Prevalence and Severity Versus Care-Seeking Patients.
- Effect of coffee on distal colon function.
- Influence of Exercise Testing in Gastroesophageal Reflux in Patients with Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
- Cellular Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Coffee Extracts with Different Roasting Levels
- Effect of grinding, extraction time and type of coffee on the physicochemical and flavour characteristics of cold brew coffee.