As one of the most popular beverages in the world, coffee is here to stay.
Still, even coffee lovers may be curious about whether this beverage is acidic and how its acidity may impact their health.
This article reviews whether coffee is acidic, its effects on certain health conditions, and some ways to modify its acidity.
In general, acidity is determined using the pH scale, which specifies how basic or acidic a water based solution is. The scale ranges from 0 to 14. Any solution registering from 0 to 7 on the scale is considered acidic, whereas a solution registering from 7 to 14 is considered basic (1).
Most coffee varieties are acidic, with an average pH value of 4.85 to 5.10 (
Among the countless compounds in this beverage, the brewing process releases nine major acids that contribute to its unique flavor profile.
Here are the nine major acids in coffee, listed from highest concentration to lowest: chlorogenic, quinic, citric, acetic, lactic, malic, phosphoric, linoleic, and palmitic (
The brewing process releases acids from coffee beans, giving this beverage a pH of 4.85 to 5.10, which is considered acidic.
When it comes to the acidity of coffee, several factors can play a role.
One main aspect that determines the acidity of coffee is how it’s roasted. Both roasting duration and temperature have been correlated with acidity.
One study showed that the longer and hotter coffee beans were roasted, the lower their chlorogenic acid levels (
This suggests that lighter roasts tend to be higher in acidity, while darker roasts are lower.
Another factor that affects acidity is the brewing method.
One study found that cold-brewed coffee was significantly lower in acidity than hot coffee (
Brewing time also appears to affect overall acidity, with a shorter duration resulting in a more acidic beverage and a moderate duration resulting in a less acidic one (
The size of the coffee grounds can also affect acidity. The smaller the ground, the greater the surface area exposed relative to volume, which can lead to more acid being extracted in the brewing process (
Therefore, using a finer grind may result in a more acidic cup of coffee.
Several factors contribute to coffee’s acidity. The main ones are the roasting duration, brewing method, and fineness of the grind.
While coffee’s acidity is fine for most people, it may aggravate certain health conditions in others.
These conditions include acid reflux, gastric ulcers, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Coffee’s effects on these conditions are mainly attributed to its acidity and slight laxative effect in some people (6,
Coffee has not been shown to cause these conditions. However, if you have been diagnosed with one of them, it’s often recommended to avoid coffee (
Alternatively, some people may benefit from simply opting for less acidic varieties.
Ways to reduce acidity
The acidity of coffee may be limiting for some. Here are a few ways to reduce it (
- Choose dark over light roasts.
- Drink cold brew instead of hot.
- Increase brew time, such as by using a French press.
- Opt for a coarser grind.
- Brew at a lower temperature.
Because coffee is acidic, it may impact certain health conditions, such as acid reflux and IBS. Thus, some people may have to avoid it. Although the acidity of this beverage cannot be eliminated, there are several ways to reduce it.
With an average pH of 4.85 to 5.10, most coffees are considered rather acidic.
While this doesn’t present a problem for most coffee lovers, the acidity can negatively affect certain health conditions in some people, such as acid reflux and IBS.
There are several methods of reducing acidity, such as drinking cold brew coffee and choosing darker roasts. Using these strategies, you can enjoy your cup of java while reducing the side effects of its acidity.