Short Answer: Cold brew coffee has a comparatively lesser amount of caffeine in it. Thus, it’s less acidic making this variety the best choice for coffee lovers with GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) or heartburn.
Coffee has become part of our day-to-day routine – not just in the morning but at any time of the day!
There are numerous ways of preparing and drinking coffee. However, some of these have unwanted setbacks.
For example, people with sensitive stomachs might find the acid in the coffee quite unpleasant.
Acid reflux is uncomfortable and distressing for those who have experienced it. GERD is essentially chronic acid reflux.
Coffee is acidic – a fact but not too well known. The question then is which type of coffee is the least acidic?
Dark roast blends are the least acidic type of coffee.
You also have control over your coffee’s acidity like knowing and selecting the appropriate coffee beans and the brewing method.
Adding some ingredients to your coffee like baking soda is also a good option as it’s known to lower its acid level.
So if you love drinking coffee but suffer from acid reflux, and you’re aware that your cup of joe is one of the culprits, I invite you to explore this topic with me in the hopes that it will help ease your discomfort.
Is coffee acidic?
Coffee is indeed acidic. If we take a look at the pH scale, it stands between 4.85 to 5.10.
Foods having a value less than 7 are considered acidic.
The acids present in coffee are:
The acidity of the coffee beans is one of the most sought-after qualities for the best coffee.
Some though, especially those suffering from acid reflux and heartburn, are put off by coffee’s acidic content because it causes a burning sensation in the chest and the back of the throat.
Here’s a list showing the different kind of drinks we usually consume and their pH level. And as mentioned above, those having a ph level of less than 7 are acidic.
|Types of beverage||pH Level|
The pH level of the type of coffee you drink also varies because of the beans used, method of roasting, and processing technique.
Additives like cream and whole milk also influence the acidity of the drink.
Out of all the acids present in coffee, the main one is chlorogenic acid and it gives the drink its antioxidant properties.
Apart from the acids, polyphenols and tannins are also present in coffee. All these components have acidic properties making coffee acidic.
If you want to learn ways to reduce the acidity of coffee, watch the video below.
Is it ok to still drink coffee if you have acid reflux?
I have good news for coffeeholics who are also suffering from acid reflux – you don’t need to give up on your favorite drink completely!
The best way to enjoy coffee without experiencing its adverse acidic effects is to drink it in moderation. I’ll give some suggestions that can hopefully work for you.
It’s better to drink coffee after a proper meal. Drinking coffee without having eaten anything yet causes the secretion of many acids that you’re trying to avoid.
Second, you have to know the kind of roast your beans have undergone. The darker the roast, the better the coffee is for you and the less acidic it is.
Some important points to keep in mind while preparing coffee for you are:
- choose a darker roast
- put acid reducers in your coffee (baking soda or almond milk)
- add a bit of salt
- go for double fermented coffee
Cold-brew coffee is a good option for people who suffer from acid reflux. Decaf coffee processed with mountain water can also be good because it has lower acidic content.
You can still drink coffee even though you have acid reflux! Just make sure not to drink one, though, when you have a reflux episode.
Your body can heal but you have to give it some time to recover from the unpleasant effects of acid reflux. You also have to drink water to neutralize the acid in your stomach.
It’s also best not to drink consecutive cups of coffee and avoid drinking it close to bedtime.
Replace unhealthy food with healthy acid-containing ones like bananas, melons, and oatmeal to name a few. Healthy acids in your diet will prevent your stomach from producing more acids than necessary.
Coffee can help with heartburn, but it must be combined with a healthy diet. I have an in-depth article on why coffee causes heartburn right here for you to read.
Is decaf coffee better for acid reflux?
Decaf coffee has also been proven to be a better option than regular coffee for acid reflux.
Better options don’t mean a healthier option though, as polyphenols and acids in the beans might also trigger acid reflux. But since it’s caffeine-free, it’s relatively a better choice.
Decaf has around 2-10 mg of caffeine, whereas about 95 mg is present in regular brewed coffee. Because of the lower caffeine content, decaf coffee does not aggravate digestive and stomach issues.
Furthermore, this study on the outcome of caffeine-free coffee or tea on GERD concluded that when you drink decaf, the effects of acid reflux lessened.
To get the most out of your low acidic decaf coffee, look for one that has gone through the Mountain Water Process or Swiss Water Process. These two are ways of extracting the caffeine content of coffee beans without any use of damaging chemicals.
Is light or dark roast more acidic?
Another important factor to consider is the type of roast. Coffee beans are roasted in three different ways: light, medium, and dark.
Light or medium roasts tend to be more acidic than dark roasts. Many acids get lost during the roasting process so the longer the coffee is roasted, the less acidic it becomes.
And since the dark roast takes the longest to roast, it tends to be the least acidic.
Whatever brewing method you prefer, dark roast coffee beans will always provide you with a low acid cup of coffee.
If you still feel that dark roast is too acidic for your taste, you can reduce the amount of coffee you use for brewing to make it easier to digest.
I have a comprehensive post on coffee’s roasting process if you want a more comprehensive read. Check it out here.
What else can you drink if you have acid reflux?
Consuming yogurt or cold milk can help you relieve the effects of acid reflux.
Given that coffee can aggravate acid reflux, you can substitute a healthier beverage to meet your daily fluid intake needs while also relieving the effects of the backflow of acid or that burning sensation you feel.
These are drinks you can choose from that won’t cause a flare-up of stomach acids:
- Plain water
- Coconut water
- Herbal tea
- Green tea
- Cold milk
- Fruit juices
- Plant-based milk
- Ginger tea
It’s best to stay hydrated throughout the day but avoid consuming large amounts of any drink in one sitting.
Also, avoid drinking fluids late at night except for water and drink water again as soon as you awake to help your stomach neutralize the acids.
To sum it all up
Overall, if you have acid reflux, the best coffee for you is cold brew coffee because they are less acidic than regular coffee.
You can also opt for decaf but you have to be careful as there may be contents in decaf coffee that may trigger your acid reflux.
Coffee causes acid reflux. Instead of taking probiotics or supplements, you can choose a healthy smoothie or tea to meet your daily fluid intake aside from water.
Always keep in mind that excessive coffee consumption can lead to not just acid reflux and heartburn but a variety of adverse health effects.
Refrain from relying too much on caffeinated beverages as a pair to your meal as there are healthier choices like low acid fruit smoothies with green vegetables. This healthy choice will also protect your cardiovascular and digestive systems in the long run.
You don’t have to let go of coffee altogether. You just need to drink it in moderation.
It’s also possible that some other factors contribute to your acid reflux, so try identifying its trigger points and then adjust your caffeine consumption accordingly.
When you adopt healthier habits, you will notice a positive change in your reflux symptoms and the overall condition of your body – a win-win situation.