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What's better for your stomach?

What's better for your stomach?

A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine asked if we sold coffee that was "less acidic" and easier on the stomach. We get a lot of customers who ask the same question, particularly when it comes to the acid levels of other brands or roasters. The short answer is no. That's really a myth but there is a solution, well, kind of.

All specialty-grade Arabica coffees have the same pH level. Roast profiles, different coffee varietals, or even different brew methods do not have a substantial effect on cutting down the acidity found in coffee.

Science Time

Let's start with the basics. Remember the science experiments you did in the 7th grade? Those little white strips were called pH Test Strips and were used to measure pH levels.

To refresh your memory water is neutral at a pH of 7, lemons are pretty acidic at a pH of 2, and drain cleaner is very basic at a pH of 14.

A typical black coffee measures at a 5 which is similar to the pH of a banana, yup a banana. As you can see from the scale below, coffee is technically acidic, but not by much. You will find similar acidic levels in soda, orange juice, and even some beers.

Time To Experiment

But there are customers that swear a light roast is easier on their stomach, or a particular region sits better.

So I decided to run an experiment on my own and test out a variety of different coffees, roast profiles and brew methods.

I purchased a digital pH meter that has an accuracy down to the hundredth of a pH. I also setup a "control" with a pH of 6.86 for calibration. Distilled water was used in between each test to make sure there wasn't any contamination. I ended up testing nine different types coffee.

pH Results

What clearly stands out from the graph below is the minor difference in pH levels between roast profiles, brew methods, and coffee origins. The pH difference from our Costa Rica Light to Cold Brew is only 0.52. Even our Kenya coffee, which is known for its citric flavors had a very similar pH level.

If you ever had a cup of coffee that didn't upset your stomach think about what else you ate that day, or if you added milk. It most probably isn't related to the coffee itself.

So Is There A Solution?

You do have a couple of options to "tamper" down the acid levels, but to be honest, it's not by much. I encourage you to test the two options below and see if they're able to help you out.

Dark Roasts - a study published in 2010 found that dark roast coffee is easier on the stomach than light roasts because it produces an ingredient that prevents hydrochloric acid from building up in the stomach.

Cold Brew - brewing coffee using the cold brew method has been shown to increase the pH level of coffee. The theory is that the cold water extracts less of the oils found in hot water extraction which results in a lower acidic coffee. In my experiment I was able to "bump up" the pH level by a very small amount. How To Make Cold Brew.

Photo credit: Bigstock

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- January 28, 2023

You should note that pH has a logarithmic scale, i.e. concentration of acidic species are 10 fold different among say pH = 6.5 and pH = 5.5.

There are more details related to the molecular structure of the acidic species in coffee but simply put it this way,

pH is lineerly propostional to log (concentration of the acidic chemicals)

Technically pH = -log [H3O+ ions]

Adrienne Dueringer

- June 23, 2022

Ice brew coffee reduces GERD. …but if you really want to get rid of it, do some intermittent fasting if your doctor approves. I suffered for years until I started fasting until my stomach healed. I am back to enjoying life without the annoyance, pain, and inconvenience of GERD. (….and I never had to pay for Rx’s!)


- February 01, 2022

How can you do this one test and then claim everything in this article.
Your test is nonsense.


- February 01, 2022

reducing gerd, stop drinking coffee :(

cathy wade

- February 01, 2022

when i drink heavy roasts i get extremely bad gerd. when i drink light or medium i do not get gerd isnt the acidity causing gerd

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