How Can I Make My Coffee Less Acidic?
Coffee can be very acidic, and that can cause problems for some people.
If your coffee doesn’t love you back and is giving you heartburn, or if you simply dislike the taste of acidic coffee, don’t worry!
Keep reading to learn how to make coffee less acidic, and start making more mellow cups in no time!
Acidity In Coffee - Friend Or Foe?
Coffee beans contain at least 850 different compounds which give them their unique taste and aroma.
Many of these compounds are acids; they are an essential part of the flavour profile of coffee.
When you’re thinking of acidity in coffee, you shouldn’t necessarily be thinking of a sour or acrid taste. Sour taste can often be a sign of imperfect extraction, as many coffee acids don’t produce an “acidic” taste at all.
For example, phosphoric acid and malic acid can actually make coffee taste sweeter. Many acids, such as citric acid and acetic acid, produce nice citrus flavours in low concentrations, but can also produce sour-tasting coffee if their content is high.
So you shouldn’t flat-out avoid acidity in coffee, because not all acidity is the same. Instead, you should look at the type of acidity present in the beans you’re buying.
Coincidentally, we have a complete article on why coffee can taste sour. Check it here.
If you’re interested, you can watch a video introducing the chemistry of coffee in more detail:
How Can I Avoid Coffee That Tastes Too Acidic?
Coffee that is very acidic may taste sour, and is definitely an acquired taste. If you want to buy beans that won’t overwhelm with acidity, there are a few things to look out for.
As a rule of thumb, coffee that is grown at high altitudes tends to be more acidic. Similarly, volcanic soil also often contributes to higher acidity.
Roasting is also an important factor to watch out for.
Lighter roasts emphasize acidity - coffees that are described as “bright” or “fruity” usually get these characteristics from acids such as malic acid. If you’re not a fan of this type of coffee, opt for darker roasts instead.
Dark roasts have traditionally been popular in Europe, and so-called Espresso and French roasts are practically always dark.
Check our recommended beans for dark roasts:
Light roasts have risen in popularity with the third wave of coffee, possibly because they are well suited for brewing single-origin beans with pour-over methods.
Because of their acidity, light roasts also tend to take milk less well. This is especially true for soy milk which will curdle in acidic coffee - something to take note of if you prefer plant-based milks in your coffee.
Coffee Acids And Health
Taste isn’t the only reason to be concerned about overly acidic coffee.
Some people experience unpleasant symptoms like heartburn or stomach-ache after drinking coffee, and this is often contributed to the acidity of the drink.
However, the relationship between coffee acids and health symptoms isn’t that simple.
To begin with, coffee that registers as “acidic” on the tongue might not be all that acidic on the pH scale. In fact, the milk you add to your coffee is probably more acidic than the coffee itself.
What’s more likely to cause problems is actually the caffeine present in your coffee. People who are sensitive to caffeine may experience heartburn, because caffeine can relax the muscles of the esophagus, leading to acid reflux.
If you’re prone to heartburn, avoid drinking too much coffee or switch to decaf, which has been found to reduce acid reflux symptoms.
If coffee upsets your stomach, darker roasts might be easier to digest. A study has found dark-roasted coffee contains a compound that inhibits production of stomach acid.
The Importance Of Extraction
When you’ve found the perfect beans, you just need to get the brew right. Overwhelming acidity is a characteristic of under-extracted coffee.
Under-extraction happens when your grind size is too coarse or your brew time is too short.
The perfect grind size and brewing time depend largely on the method you’re using.
Just find the right recipe for you and stick to it. Precision will be rewarded when it comes to coffee.
The Beans And The Brew Are Key In How To Make Coffee Less Acidic
While you can’t avoid acids in coffee, you can choose coffees that aren’t overwhelmingly acidic to taste.
When buying beans, opt for darker roasts grown at lower altitudes, and make sure you are not under-extracting when you brew.
If you experience health symptoms after drinking coffee, this might have more to do with caffeine than the acidity. You could go de-caf or just restrict your coffee intake.
Do you prefer coffee low in acidity?
Let me know in the comments!