Is coffee acidic or basic? What factors determine the acidity levels of coffee? And what are their effects on your health? All about coffee acidity…
To be completely truthful, most caffeine lovers don’t really bother about whether is coffee acidic or basic. Nevertheless, knowing the answer is important indeed. Because, after all, coffee is a very popular beverage that millions of people devour in the morning to get ahead of the game, in the afternoon to keep the hustle going, and even in the evening because a steamy, rich cup of cappuccino or latte is just too irresistible.
But then is it healthy to drink so much coffee? This is where the topic at hand comes into the picture. Do the natural compounds present in coffee beans, which make them taste bitter, have acidic qualities? The answer is yes, coffee is acidic, chemically speaking of course.
So now it’s time to get into the what, how, why, etc. of the topic!
You determine the acidity of everything with the help of the pH scale (between 0 and 14). It’s acidic when the pH value is between 0 and 7. And basic when the pH value is between 7 and 14.
As for coffee, the majority of the varieties are acidic. To be more specific, the average pH level is between 4.85 and 5.10.
On that note, you should also know that it’s the brewing part that’s responsible for releasing most of the acids in coffee. The list includes palmitic, linoleic, phosphoric, malic, lactic, acetic, citric, quinic, and chlorogenic (from lowest to highest concentration). Also, thanks to these acids, your coffee has such a unique flavor profile.
Acidity vs. Acid
The term acidity describes the taste of the coffee. It’s actually a desirable trait, unlike acidic food that upsets the tummy and feels sour in the mouth. Coffee acidity, on the other hand, is an appealing quality because it refers to the acids responsible for largely influencing the flavor and taste of your most favorite beverage. And it’s not really the actual acid content.
For example, when brands use the word “bright” for their coffee, it merely means good acidity. So, as you can see, the term “acidity” is more indicative of the flavor.
Coffee Acidity Variations
Now let’s talk about factors that play a major role in determining the acidity of coffee…
How the roasting process is done – roasting temperature and roasting time, is directly related to how much acidity is present in the coffee beans. The hotter and longer the roasting, the more the coffee acids get reduced. And that means lighter roasts are the most acidic while the darker version is the least acidic.
Moving on to how you brew your coffee; even this particular factor matters a great deal when it comes to affecting the acidity. In that case, cold brewing, in comparison to hot coffee, tends to produce lower acidity.
Then there’s the duration of brewing as well. When brewed for a shorter time, coffee contains more acidity. On the other hand, a moderate brewing time means a less acidic beverage.
3. Grind Size
Does the grind size really matter in terms of acidity? Of course, it does, and there’s a logical reason for it. When the coffee grounds are smaller, the exposed surface area is greater in relation to the volume. And that, in turn, means more acids extracted during the brewing process.
So it’s only sensible to assume that a finer grind size gives you a more acidic brew.
How to Choose More Acidic or More Basic Coffee
Needless to say, you can’t control the growing process of coffee beans. Because it’s undeniable that some of them tend to be more acidic because of the soil’s pH range, which differs from one coffee growing country to another.
So it means that coffee beans grown in acidic soil are acidic too. And coffee beans grown in more basic land will have a lower acidity level. But then the brewing process also plays a part afterward. Let us explain.
Meaning if you like to water down your coffee, you’re reducing its acidity. Even adding cream or milk lowers the acid levels. But those who like their coffee to be strong and black have to bear the brunt of higher acidity.
How to Measure Coffee Acidity
Use litmus paper to determine if your coffee is acidic or not. If the litmus paper turns red after you dip it in the cup, it means you’re drinking acidic coffee.
Then there are coffee scales as well that give you the exact pH range. Black coffee, in this case, has a pH value of 5.
The next way to test the acidity of your coffee is the simplest one. Allow your tongue and taste buds to do the job. Are they picking up bits of saltiness or bitterness? So let your body decide if the coffee you’re consuming every morning is too acidic or not.
Speaking of which, if you get a tummy ache or heartburn after drinking coffee, then there’s no denying that your brew’s acidity levels are too high. So consider switching to these best light roast low acid coffee flavors.
Effects of Coffee Acidity On Health
The side effects of drinking coffee that’s highly acidic, first of all, include IBS, acid reflux, and gastric ulcers. Coffee may not necessarily give rise to these medical conditions, but it certainly makes them more intolerable.
So if you are struggling with such digestive troubles, then it’s best for you to avoid drinking coffee on a daily basis. Or you could simply go for coffee varieties and roasts that are less acidic.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to Lower the Acidity of Coffee?
Water down the brew or just add cream or milk. This is the quickest, simplest, and most convenient option you have at the moment.
Then comes the whole solution of buying lighter roasts. However, the only drawback here is applicable only to those who love dark roast coffee. They might not be able to get used to the less intense flavor of lightly roasted coffee. But then you can always prepare a cold brew with low acid coffee to get the best of both worlds.
The process of cold brewing may not eliminate the acidity completely but it definitely makes your coffee both smooth and sweet. Even cappuccinos and lattes are a better option than drip or espresso coffee when it comes to preventing stomach ache or sensitivities.
Does Milk Reduce Coffee Acidity?
Adding milk does indeed minimize the acidity of your coffee. But how? Calcium present in milk sort of neutralizes the acid level. It smooths out your coffee’s overall taste. This is why milk is often a part of dark roast coffee, which already has a low acidity range.
Coffee is neither very acidic nor is it entirely basic. How much acidity you’re okay with actually depends on your taste preferences and how your body reacts to coffee. Caffeine lovers with stomach sensitivities or digestive problems choose medium roasts and brew it with cream or milk. While you can reduce the acidity levels further with the help of cold brewing.
So now you understand what factors are involved in determining the coffee’s pH value. It’s not just the brewing, roasting, or grind size alone, but all the parts combined together.
Sponsored guest post by Alice Moonly
This is yet another very beneficial and science-backed post put together by the expert team of coffee connoisseurs at Coffee Style Today. Each contributor has been a part of the coffee world in some way or the other as a professional and continues to expand his/her knowledge.