I often meet people that say, “I can’t drink coffee. It gives me indigestion.” Or they say, “The acid in coffee bothers my stomach.” If coffee is so acidic, then why does it bother some people and not others? Is coffee acidic?
As a master coffee roaster, I can say with authority, that coffee is a little bit more acidic than water. I’ve found that most of the things that we eat and drink have more acid than what coffee has. For example, water has a pH balance of 7 where coffee has a pH balance of 5.7. That being said, to answer the question, is coffee acidic, technically, we should be asking, as compared to what?
If we compared the acid in coffee to the acid in orange juice, apple juice, grape juice, or tomato juice, beer, wine, or just about any soft drink, skittles, Altoids, most candies and sweets; we would find that all of these foods and drinks have considerably more acid than coffee.
Let’s think about this. I suggest that we’re asking the wrong question. In my opinion, the issue isn’t “Is coffee acidic.” The real question is this. What is about coffee that bothers your stomach?
As a coffee roaster, it’s my opinion that the answer is remarkably simple and will surprise you. You’ll also be surprised to hear that it has nothing to do with the acidic level of coffee. There are two avoidable reasons why coffee may upset your stomach.
Let’s start by defining the problem. In a single word, the problem is “Carbon”. One of the most common forms of carbon is charcoal. If you ingested enough charcoal then your stomach chemistry is going to do flip-flops.
You might ask, “What on earth does this have to do with coffee”? Well, charcoal is created when you slowly cook something to the point of it being burnt. That black stuff on your burnt hamburger, or the black stuff on your burnt marshmallow, or the black stuff on the wood in your campfire, or your black coffee beans; that’s all charcoal.
Your stomach gets upset, because you’re drinking coffee that’s had the snot burned out of it. All that’s left of the coffee bean is charcoal and carbon. Additionally, all the coffee oils have been burned off. It’s those oils that have all the bioflavonoids, antioxidants, caffeine, and flavor.
People’s stomach might also be upset because of all the crap that they put into their coffee, like; milk, cream, sugar, caramel, chocolate, artificial flavorings, whip cream, and sprinkles. Put any one of those ingredients into your coffee and your stomach’s chemistry is going to go crazy. It’s no wonder that their coffee gives them an upset stomach.
How to make coffee less acidic
So, what’s the solution? The question isn’t, “Is coffee acidic?” Here’s what you do. Buy whole bean coffee that has been gently roasted to a color of medium brown up to dark brown, but never black. And most importantly, was freshly roasted less than a week ago. Do that and your coffee will be kinder and gentler to your stomach and you’ll enjoy a soul satisfyingly smooth cup of coffee.