Acidity In Coffee: Causes, Health Effects, and Solutions

Acidity In Coffee

Coffee is an emotion and love for many people. Despite they are suffering from acidity in coffee and other gastrointestinal problems, they still want to have a cup of coffee at least once in a day. So, here is the discussion about coffee and its acidic effect. We’ll try to cover every health effect of coffee, how to reduce those effects and more.

In general, using the pH scale, which determines how basic or acidic a water-based solution is, acidity is calculated. The scale ranges between 0 and 14. Any solution that registers on a scale from 0 to 7 is considered acidic, while a solution that registers from 7 to 14 is considered basic.

Most coffee varieties are acidic, with an average pH value of 4.85 to 5.10.

The brewing process releases nine major acids among the countless compounds in this beverage that contribute to its unique flavor profile. Here are the nine main coffee acids: chlorogenic, quinic, citric, acetic, lactic, malic, phosphoric, linoleic, and palmitic, identified from highest to lowest concentration.

It is possible to classify the acids present in coffee into two categories: organic and chlorogenic.

Citric, malic, quinic, acetic, succinic, and tartaric acid are organic acids. These are the “good,” fruity acids you want in the cup to taste. Organic acids typically have basic compounds involved in more acidic coffees.

Acids that are causing acidity in coffee

Malic Acid

It’s the same kind of acid you get in green apples is malic acid, so imagine brewed coffee with the juiciness and smooth sharpness of green apples.

Citric acid

It is more citrusy, as you might have guessed. Think about lemons, nectarines, and oranges.

Tartaric acid

It is more grape-like, but it also exists in bananas very strongly.

Acetic acid

on the other hand, acetic acid is more vinegary and less enjoyable.
Then you have chlorogenic acids which are broken down into quinic and caffeic acids (normally during the roasting process). The thing is, quinic acid doesn’t taste well. These compounds are responsible in the beverage for bitterness, astringency, and soundness,
For this reason, the darker the roast, the bitterer it is, and the lighter the roast, the more acidic it will be.

Read Masago-Benefits

The Roasting

How it’s roasted is one key factor that defines the acidity of coffee. Acidity has been associated with both roasting time and temperature. The longer and hotter coffee beans were roasted, the lower their chlorogenic acid levels, one study found.

This means that lighter roasts, appear to be higher in acidity, though darker roasts are lower.

Making Brewing

The brewing process is another aspect that influences acidity. One research showed that the acidity of cold-brewed coffee was considerably lower than that of hot coffee.
The overall acidity also seems to be influenced by brewing time, with a shorter duration resulting in a more acidic drink and a moderate duration resulting in a less acidic one.

Scale of Field

Acidity can also be affected by the scale of the coffee grounds. The smaller the soil, the greater the exposed surface area compared to volume, which in the brewing process will lead to more acid being extracted.

A more acidic cup of coffee can therefore result from using a finer grind.

Possible Health Consequences for acidity in coffee

While the acidity of coffee is good for most individuals, in others it can aggravate some health conditions. These conditions include acid reflux, gastric ulcers, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Coffee’s effects on these conditions are mainly caused by it’s acidity and mild laxative effect in some people.

Caffeine has a serious effect on some specific diseases like; IBS, Gastric ulcers. If you are having those conditions, you should know details about the effect. Caffeine effects on different disease conditions is given below.

Acidity in coffee

The impact of acidity in coffee on IBS

High caffeine content is the key cause coffee usually worsens IBS symptoms. The substance in coffee that helps to raise energy levels and alertness, is caffeine. Although this caffeine also helps to retain sanity during a busy working day, it does not often help with symptom management. Caffeine increases the production of stomach acid (causing pain and indigestion) and enhances levels of motor activity in the colon/gut (causing diarrhea). Those with IBS-predominant diarrhea are typically more influenced by coffee than those with IBS-predominant constipation.

Insensitive individuals, any food rich in caffeine will exacerbate IBS symptoms. Coffee is typically worse than other caffeinated beverages for symptoms since it is normally much higher in caffeine. Tea, energy drinks, dark chocolate, soft drinks (especially cola), and pre-workout supplements are items to be mindful of.

Coffee in moderate quantities should be accepted by most people with IBS! Caffeine-sensitive people with IBS can restrict coffee and tea to no more than 3 cups a day.

This means, to kick start the day (phew!), you should be perfect with your basic morning cup of coffee. If you find you are especially sensitive and do not manage to handle an entire cup, consider getting a half-strength or decaf coffee. Coffee can also be substituted for tea, which has a lower amount of caffeine. Green tea is also a fantastic low-caffeine alternative to coffee, and since it contains antioxidants, it has some amazing health benefits!

Try to restrict the consumption of caffeine to no more than 150mg-200mg a day (about 2-3 cups of coffee/tea).

Here are some common caffeinated products content

  1. Instant coffee= 60-80mg per teaspoon (approximately 1 cup)
  2. Filtered coffee (from coffee machine) = 60-120mg per 250ml cup
  3. Tea = 10-50mg per 250ml cup (strength depends on brewing time)
  4. Energy drinks= 80mg per 250ml can
  5. Coca Cola= 48.75mg per 375ml can
  6. Dark chocolate= 21mg per 50g (approximately 2 rows)


Dyspepsia is a concept that includes a group of symptoms in the upper digestive tract, including impaired digestion, pain, and discomfort. To date, research does not demonstrate any connection between coffee intake and dyspepsia.

  • Several studies have found no association between dyspepsia and coffee intake. 37 percent of 500 adults found coffee to be a cause of dyspepsia in one study,  that considered the effect of alcohol, coffee and smoking on GI symptoms. Further investigations, however, show no correlation between coffee drinking and this disorder. Dyspepsia is closely associated with both smoking and having quit smoking.
  • A cross-sectional analysis of 8,407 individuals also revealed that there is no correlation between coffee intake and dyspepsia, but that the existence of the bacterium Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) and dyspepsia was strongly related.

Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD)

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GORD) is an unpleasant reflux disease caused by stomach acid returning to the esophagus. It is proposed that spicy or fatty food intake and overeating are common causes. Coffee has been suggested in some cases as a potential cause, but there is no proof that the symptoms of GORD are affected by coffee intake. Many who suffer from symptoms often, according to their own sensitivities, self-regulate their diet and some patients may prefer to restrict their coffee intake.

  • Although some research indicates that coffee drinking is viewed as a risk factor for GORD, no correlation has been identified in other studies.
  • Research from the Netherlands that uses a catheter inserted into the esophagus of patients to control reflux indicates that coffee only affects when eaten on an empty stomach, and that the effect on reflux is smaller than that observed after ingestion of a full meal. Other factors associated with reflux, such as the functioning of the esophageal sphincter muscle, have not been found to affect coffee. The researchers concluded that GORD in healthy volunteers does not affect coffee itself.
  • A major patient control study involving 3,153 sufferers and 40,210 controls explored associations between causes of reflux and lifestyle. The biggest influence tends to be on both smoking and high salt intake. The researchers indicate that coffee intake, along with high-fiber bread consumption and daily physical exercise, decreased the risk of GORD.
  • Further analysis of lifestyle and reflux factors in twins indicates that high BMI, smoking, and lack of physical activity at work are risk factors for repeated symptoms of GORD13. No dietary factors have been found to have a link, including coffee intake, and indeed, in men, the consumption of more than seven cups of coffee per day is associated with a lower risk of reflux.
  • A 2006 review of 16 studies assessing the role of lifestyle factors in GORD shows that modifying eating habits, including coffee consumption, does not affect symptoms of acid reflux14. A further 2013 meta-analysis also showed no association between coffee intake and GORD.
  • One study suggests that consuming decaffeinated coffee at breakfast time reduces acid reflux, but this has not been confirmed in other studies and conclusions cannot be drawn.

Read Cardiac Glycosides

Peptic Ulcers

Peptic ulcers are lesions that appear in the mucosa of the wall of the stomach and induce pain and distress. Coffee has historically been associated with the production of peptic ulcers. However, research has concentrated in recent years on understanding the function of the Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacterium in the production of peptic ulcers. Studies evaluating the risk factors for stomach ulcer development suggest that coffee is no longer considered a risk factor.

  • A cohort study of 2,416 adults analyzed risk factors for stomach ulcers and concluded that risk factors include pylori, smoking, and the use of tranquilizers. It was found that coffee intake was not a risk factor.
  • There is also no link between coffee intake and peptic ulcers in a 2013 cross-sectional analysis of 8,013 healthy subjects in Japan.


Gastritis is a mild inflammation of the stomach wall, but more intense gastritis can cause ulcers and associated pain, which is usually unnoticeable. There is no indication that the production of gastritis is affected by coffee.

If they feel discomfort, patients dealing with painful gastritis often opt to avoid such foods or drinks, and self-management is normal.

Stomach Cancer

There is no evidence to indicate a connection between coffee consumption and the risk of developing stomach cancer, research to date shows. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) analyzed all available scientific evidence in 2016 and found no direct connection between coffee consumption and cancer at any location of the body, including the stomach.

  • No link between coffee consumption and the occurrence of stomach cancer was found in a previous systematic review and a meta-analysis of 23 studies.
  • The EPIC Cohort study results indicate that consumption of total coffee intake, as well as caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee intake, is not correlated with the overall risk of gastric cancer. However, an increased risk of gastric cardiac cancer can be associated with the overall intake of coffee and caffeinated coffee.

Duodenal Ulcers

As the first portion of the intestine after the stomach, the duodenum is frequently exposed to stomach acid as the contents of the stomach pass through the duodenum in order to begin the digestive process. The duodenum wall is covered by a mucus covering against stomach acid, but infection or use of some drugs, including painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs, can interfere with the development of mucus.

There is currently no correlation in available research between coffee consumption and the development of duodenal ulcers.

  • The relationship between caffeine, alcohol and smoking was tested for the risk of developing duodenal ulcers in a broad prospective cohort study of 47,806 American men. It was found that none of these variables were associated with a significant increase in risk.
  • There was also no link between coffee consumption and duodenal ulcers in a further 2013 cross-sectional analysis of 8,013 balanced subjects in Japan.
  • An additional study indicates no difference between those with duodenal ulcers and controls in the daily pattern of coffee consumption, or the pattern of complaints after drinking coffee.

Intestinal Peristalsis

Peristalsis is the mechanism of intestinal muscle contraction, which enables food to travel along the intestine. In some individuals, coffee can stimulate peristalsis.

  • A survey of 99 people suggested that in 29 percent of individuals, coffee induced intestinal activity.
  • Research comparing the effect of regular and decaffeinated coffee with the same quantity of hot water or a complete meal of 1,000 calories on intestinal motility found that the effect of caffeinated coffee was as important as the meal, 60% stronger than water, and 23% stronger than decaffeinated coffee.
  • Further study shows that strong coffee and hot water both have a significant influence on the movement of the intestines.

There is no evidence that coffee causes diarrhoea in healthy adults, and the role of coffee intake in constipation cannot be proven, since this would depend on the cause and severity of constipation.

Colorectal Cancer

In 2016, insufficient evidence was found by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) to suggest any connection between coffee consumption and colorectal cancer.

There is no correlation between coffee consumption and colorectal cancer in a number of major literature reviews and, in fact, moderate coffee consumption could reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.

Other Intestinal Disorders 

There are also other intestinal disorders, including diverticulitis, inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s Disease, and ulcerative colitis, that have a variety of triggers. There is no indication that these disorders are influenced by coffee. A systematic review in 2017 concluded that coffee consumption tends to lead to a decreased risk of ulcerative colitis, but this finding is not significant and confused with smoking.

Ways to Reduce Acidity in coffee and caffeinated beverage

For many others, the acidity of coffee can be reductive. Here are a few means of eliminating it.

  • Choose light roasts over dark ones.
  • Drink a cold brew rather than a hot one.
  • Increase the time for brewing, such as using a French press.
  • Opt for a coarser mesh.
  • Brew at a temperature that is lower.

Many coffees are deemed to be very acidic with an average pH of 4.85 to 5.10.

Although this is not a concern for most coffee lovers, acidity in certain individuals, such as acid reflux and IBS, may have a deleterious impact on some health conditions.

There are many ways to minimize acidity, such as drinking coffee with a cold brew and preferring darker roasts. You will enjoy your cup of coffee using these techniques while reducing the side effects of its acidity.

Wanna learn more about health and disease? Read this article about Testosterone. 

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