Coffee and Acid Reflux: Cutting Down on the Coffee Burn
You’re sitting at the kitchen table enjoying a nice hot cup of coffee. After you take the last sip, it starts.
That burning sensation in your chest. The uneasy stomach. The frustration.
It’s your acid reflux flaring up again. And if you have these symptoms more than 2 times a week, you may have even GERD.
While research hasn’t proven a direct link between coffee and acid reflux, many of us still experience uncomfortable symptoms after drinking coffee.
8 Ways to Avoid Acid Reflux While Drinking Coffee
But we’re here to help. This article will give you 8 tips on reducing the acidity of coffee so you can get back to enjoying your morning cuppa.
Cold brewing coffee beans decreases the acidity of the coffee by 67%. For people who suffer from acid reflux related to coffee, this is great news.
The reason for this dramatic reduction of acidity relates to heat extraction. In traditional brewing, the hot water releases acids from the coffee beans.
While these acids give off good flavor, they can also be hard on the stomach. Cold-brewing takes away that element of heat, providing a taste that’s smooth in the mouth and even smoother on your stomach.
In essence, “With temperature change comes change in taste, but because cold-brewed coffee eliminates most of that temperature change, flavor is locked in.”
Acid reducers provide a useful method for relieving the symptoms of acid reflux, especially while you’re out and about.
Some “neutralize the acidity in foods and beverages without damaging the flavor.” While others “do not affect the acidity of the food itself but reduce the impact of the acids on the stomach.”
Either way, these helpful substances, that usually come in packets or shakers, mean you can reduce the effects of coffee’s acidity at home or in your favorite coffee shop - without sacrificing flavor.
If this method sounds gross to you, bear with us. Eggshells are alkaline, and coffee is acidic. Together, they counterbalance each other, giving you a less acidic coffee. And you won’t even be able to taste the difference.
Ok, so that chemistry is cool, but do you seriously want to put eggshells in your coffee? Here’s how you do it:
- Use raw eggshells, maybe save some from your morning breakfast
- Rinse them out and crush them up in your hand
- Mix them in with your coffee grounds
- Brew as you normally would
You only need one or two eggshells for your morning coffee. A simple and cheap way to reduce the acid in your coffee.
Still feeling the pain after drinking your morning coffee? Opt for a darker roast from now on.
Darker roasts don’t necessarily have less acid in them. But the roasting process introduces a compound that can make them easier on the stomach.
That compound? It’s called N-methylpyridinium, or NMP for short. More of it is found in coffee that has been roasted longer (darker roasts). And scientists are still studying its effect on reducing stomach acid.
But keep in mind that darker roasts also have less caffeine, and caffeine may be a contributor to coffee heartburn as well. Either way, darker roasts benefit acid reflux sufferers in a huge way.
Low Elevation Coffee
Elevation plays a huge part in the taste of different coffees. Usually, the most desirable coffee beans come from high elevation farms.
At high elevations, the coffee plants grow more slowly, resulting in more densely compacted sugars and flavors.
But according to the Five Senses Coffee blog, “High altitude coffee tends to have higher levels of organic acids, chlorogenic acids, [and] caffeine.” Great for flavor, but not so great for those of us who experience coffee heartburn.
So instead, choose a low elevation coffee to stop the burn. Don’t know how to choose? Take a look at your coffee bag and see if a country of origin or elevation is listed to help you decide.
Or try a Hawaiian Kona coffee. It’s grown at a low elevation but, because it’s grown in shade, it gives you a smooth, pleasant taste you may even enjoy more than a high elevation coffee.
Especially if it means saying goodbye to acid reflux.
Have you ever left your coffee pot sitting on the hot pad a little too long? What happens? You usually end up with an extremely bitter pot of coffee.
The reason for this relates to the brew time. Heat from brewing quickly extracts flavors from coffee beans.
Leave your coffee grounds with heat too long and you get bitter coffee (including leaving them on the heating pad). But too short and you have highly acidic coffee.
For those with acid reflux, shorter brewing times can indicate a more acidic coffee. To help with this, consider increasing the brewing time to avoid an acid-only cup.
Along with brew time, the size of the grind influences the acidity. A fine grind allows the water to extract acids and flavors more quickly, while a course grind takes longer.
So, if you want to reduce acidity in your coffee, go for a more coarse grind. For example, using a French press allows for a coarse grind and a longer brew time, giving you a less acidic coffee.
An exception to this rule is espresso. While espresso grinds are very fine, the brew time is relatively short. So if done correctly, espresso should be a good balance of flavors.
Higher water temperatures bring out the acidity of coffee much more quickly and noticeably.
And while coffee connoisseurs usually prefer this taste, people who have issues with coffee heartburn may want to consider using lower temperature water.
In fact, “some compounds [like certain acids] won’t extract at certain temperatures.” Remember when we talked about cold brew coffee’s low acidity? That’s what’s going on with cold brew.
But if you still want hot coffee, consider using temperatures lower than 204F to reduce the acidity.
Well, there you have it. If you suffer from acid reflux but also love a good cup of coffee, you now have some acid-reducing ideas at your fingertips.
You may have even heard of low-acid coffees. Many of these use some of the methods mentioned above like lower elevation or darker roast.
But the proof is in the cup. Go ahead and try some of these tips and let us know how it went for you. And happy heartburn-free drinking!