How to Make Coffee Less Acidic (Without Ruining It)

Nicole Austin

There are a bunch of different approaches for how to make coffee less acidic.

For coffee lovers like me, one of the most disheartening things you can face is the necessity of cutting back on acidic foods and drinks in your diet.

I sometimes have bouts of acid reflux, which prompts me to do the most basic and obvious self-care routine: eliminating and reducing acid intake, including coffee. 

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Even for a short time, this feels daunting, as it’s no secret to anyone that I’m a busy mom with a full-time job (and a side hustle!) and a lot of running around to do, on not very much sleep.

Coffee has become my partner in crime when it comes to taking care of my responsibilities, so to have to cut back on it for even a short time is rough. To say I didn’t want to is an understatement.

This prompted me to research different options to see if I could still have coffee while trying to take better care of my digestive system. 

I explored brewing methods, roasting processes, brew time, and grind size, as well as things I could add to my coffee to help. 

(Yeah, I’m serious about this. Just because we have sensitive stomachs doesn’t mean we can’t have coffee!)

So here are some important facts about acidity in coffee and tips for preparing or purchasing the least acidic coffee you can.

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Which Type of Coffee is Less Acidic?

There are two main types of coffee. Coffee made of Arabica beans is more acidic than coffee made of Robusta beans.

Arabica coffee grows at a higher altitude and therefore more slowly, which allows for more flavor development but also yields a higher acidity. 

When not seeking a low-acid coffee, many people will reach for Arabica coffee due to these components, even if they’re unaware of them — that’s because the flavor is so rich.

When looking for naturally less acidic coffee, Robusta bean-based coffee is a good start. The tradeoff for the lower acidity is a less pronounced flavor, which may or may not bother you. You will also want to consider coffee that is grown at a lower elevations.

Seek coffee beans grown in these regions for coffee with lower acidity:

  • Sumatra
  • Mexico
  • Brazil
  • Peru
  • Nicaragua
  • Guatemala

Now you know which beans to look for when seeking lower-acidity coffee.

Next, you will want to consider the roast style.

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Is Dark Roast Coffee Less Acidic?

Many people falsely believe that lighter roasts of coffee are less acidic and caffeinated than darker roasts, but this mistaken belief is largely based on flavor only.

During roasting, coffee is broken down to become less acidic and caffeinated over time and with higher temperatures. This also changes the flavor from a light, faint flavor to a rich, tart flavor as you move through the different roasting styles.

The roasting process is why white coffee is nearly as light as tea but is high in caffeine and acidity, and dark roast has a smoky, robust, and sharp flavor, while actually containing less acid and less caffeine.

Light roast (also sometimes referred to as blonde roast, and medium roast (such as a breakfast blend) fall between these two.

Dark roast coffee has less acid, but a flavor that is especially strong.

Some people prefer to dilute the strong flavor of dark roast coffee by adding coffee creamer or fats, such as those found in bulletproof coffee.

You can also mix dark roast coffee with lighter roasts, like medium roast, to make a pot that is less overwhelming to your taste buds. This will still have less overall acid than simply using medium roast alone, but it may be more in line with the taste you love.

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Is Cold Brew Coffee Less Acidic?

Cold brew coffee, also called cold drip coffee, has soared in popularity recently, and is available in almost any coffee shop or fast food coffee franchise you can think of. Dunkin’ has a very popular cold brew coffee and naturally, Starbucks does as well

Cold brew coffee is more accessible than ever before, making it a really good option on the go for people who don’t have time to brew their own coffee at home (or tea, for that matter.)

So, is cold brew coffee less acidic than other forms of coffee? The answer is yes!

Cold brew coffee is significantly less acidic and caffeinated than coffee prepared by hot water brewing, making it the best coffee to consume if you are concerned about acidity in your brew.

Unfortunately, cold-brew coffee cannot be made on the spot, so you will need to plan in advance. A perfect cold brewing requires 12 to 24 hours of slow steeping, which can be discouraging.

However, cold brew coffee contains a whopping 67 to 70 percent less acid, and remains flavorful! That’s definitely something to be excited about.

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Is Decaf Coffee Acidic?

Decaf coffee tends to be less bothersome on stomachs than coffee with caffeine. But you may not know exactly why.

Studies show that extracting caffeine from coffee actually reduces phenolic acids, making the coffee less acidic.

Caffeine also prompts your body to make more of its own acids, so removing caffeine from your coffee is kinder on the stomach in this sense as well. This is why caffeine is restricted in diets that help treat GERD

GERD is a symptom of stomach lining damage that is caused by too much acid in the esophagus. This condition affects millions of Americans.

Stress, lack of sleep, eating too quickly or too much, caffeine, and foods high in fat or spice content are all aggravating factors that contribute to the prevalence of GERD.

For these reasons, decaf coffee is a great way to reduce acid intake when consuming coffee.

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Does Brewing Method Change the Acidity of Coffee?

The way you brew your coffee, as well as the amount of coffee grounds you use in relation to the amount of water, will alter the strength of your brew. If you accidentally make your coffee too light, don’t forget that you can thicken your coffee using various methods to make it more full-bodied and flavorful.

Coffee that steeps a long time will be stronger than coffee that doesn’t steep very long.

A good example is French press coffee's strong, full-bodied flavor. Coffee made in a French press steeps for a long time, pulling more acid and oil from the coffee grounds. 

Even though the grounds are larger, the amount of time they rest in hot water influences the result.

Alternately, larger grounds of coffee in a drip coffee maker, for example, will not have as much coffee extracted from them, whereas a finely ground coffee would be stronger. 

Water is forcefully pushed through coffee and a filter in a drip coffee maker, which allows less time for flavorful oils to be extracted from larger grinds.

Pour-over coffee is a slower way to make coffee, as the water filters through the grounds at a different speed than it does in a drip coffee maker. 

It is typically made using a finer ground, although you can use larger grounds and thicker filters for a different result, such as coffee made in a Chemex.

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How Do You Make Coffee Less Acidic?

There are ways to make your coffee less acidic during and after brewing it.

While brewing it, try this unconventional method: add egg shells to the coffee grinds.

Egg shells are the secret ingredient to making coffee less acidic. They have alkaline properties, which can neutralize the acid released during the brewing process. They also contain calcium, which is a necessary mineral.

While adding egg shells can assist with your coffee being less acidic, it’s important to remember that they should not be consumed. Be sure to filter them out before indulging in your coffee.

If egg shells aren’t your style, add a pinch of baking soda to your grinds for the same reason. Baking soda is also alkaline, and a small amount should not influence the flavor of your brew. Just be careful not to use too much!

Another consideration for making a coffee that is predictable and less acidic is using filtered water. Town or city water often has added chemicals to help reduce the negative effects of water impurities, but these chemicals can affect the pH of the water.

In turn, making coffee from this water will be higher in acid content than filtered water.

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If you currently use metal filters, consider switching to a paper filter in the future. Paper filters do a better job of trapping acids and oils from beans during brewing.

You can also alter the acidity of your coffee after it’s made by adding milk or alternative milk products.

Plant-based milks are alkaline as well. This will balance the coffee, making it far less acidic. Some good options are almond milk or soy milk.

Dairy-based milks also neutralize acidity, and additionally contain calcium, which has additional health benefits.

You can also add cinnamon to your prepared coffee. Cinnamon is a natural antacid, so adding even a pinch to your cup adds more flavor and helps reduce acid in your digestive tract.

The acidity of coffee can also be influenced by how clean your coffee maker is. We recommend regularly cleaning out your coffee maker to reduce the build-up that may be left behind from previous uses.

Another way to combat issues related to high acidity in coffee is to take a teaspoon of raw honey after consuming coffee. Honey is a known natural remedy for alleviating acid reflux.

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Which Coffees Are Least Acidic?

If you’re looking for a quick answer to which coffees are best for lower acidity, here’s our list:

  • Dark roasts (less acid because more caffeine and oils are baked off during the roasting process)
  • Espresso beans (less acid because the shorter brewing time lessens the amount of acid that is extracted)
  • Cold brews (less acid because the longer brewing process and lower temperatures result in less bitter taste and less acidity)
  • Low-acid coffee brands (less acid due to a variety of influences, such as the type of bean, as well as the location and rate of growth)
  • Alternative coffees (seeking mushroom-based or chicory coffees may help stomach issues related to coffee intake because they are made of different ingredients that contain less acid and are easier to digest)
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Other Tips to Help Acid Reflux

Coffee drinkers, admit it — if you’re a diehard fan like me, you’ll still drink it, even with reflux issues.

You may opt for cold brew, and add some dilution with milk or creamer, but there are still some other tips that will make coffee more enjoyable for people with stomach concerns.

  • Limit your intake. Ouch, I know. But the truth is, consuming less acid overall will help you. So try to have less coffee per day than before, at least while symptoms persist.
  • Don’t drink coffee on an empty stomach. Enjoy coffee alongside other foods to lessen the impact of the acidity.
  • Drink from a mug and not a thermos. Keeping your coffee in an insulated thermos can keep it so hot that it continues to brew. Drinking from a mug or a non-insulated, coffee-safe cup will help cool the hot coffee and prevent continuous brewing.
  • Use an acid reducer. There are products on the market that can be easily added to your coffee to reduce the acidity before and after brewing. These acid reducers boast high positive ratings.
  • Try over-the-counter medication. This can help relieve the symptoms of acid reflux and GERD. Bear in mind that occasional stomach upset is normal and can be due to many harmless factors, but having severe or continuous issues may be a sign that you need to meet with your doctor to discuss your concerns. (We are not doctors here at Food Fanatic!)
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Drinking less acidic coffee can help people with stomach issues or health concerns. Reducing the amount of acid in your daily coffee can be very simple, and there are many different ways to achieve a coffee that is less upsetting for the stomach while still being delicious!

Nicole is a self-published author of fiction novels, and a lover of food and spending time in the kitchen with her six children. She lives in coastal Maine where she loves exploring new recipes especially those that can save time, money and wow a crowd.

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