Is coffee acidic, or does it have a natural alkaline balance? For many of us who love a cup of Joe, it would be fascinating to find out. First, let’s find out what exactly acid is. It is a word used in chemistry to define any compound that has an acid component. The human body produces a wide range of acids:

  • Simple sulfuric (sulfur) acids
  • Complex mixtures of amino acids (protein derivatives)
  • Fatty acids

Coffee, like most caffeinated beverages, is mildly acidic. However, the levels can vary from brew to brew. For ease of comparison, water is also a fairly neutral substance and usually falls within the 7 pH range.

Keep in mind, coffee is much higher on the acidity scale than other beverages. The average coffee beverage sits around 4.85 to 5.13 [1]. However, a few things can affect the acidity of your drink. In this article, I’ll review what can affect the sharpness of your coffee.

The three main things include:

  • Roasting Process
  • Brew Method
  • Grinding

Is Coffee Acidic

1. Is Coffee Acidic: The Roasting Process

First up, one thing that can affect the acidity level of coffee is the roasting of your beans. The roasting process can increase or decrease the acidity level. Studies have shown that roasted beans for more extended periods end up with less chlorogenic acid [2].

So, if you want coffee beans with less acidity, what should you do? Simple, stick with darker roasts. Dark roasted coffee beans will be inherently less acidic.

2. Is Coffee Acidic: The Brew Method

What’s another significant factor that can contribute to the increase or decrease of acidity? That would be the method of brewing. One of the reasons cold brew has become prevalent is that it produces much lower acidity. This study states, pH values of cold brew samples have lower concentrations of acid [1].

The acidity and antioxidant activity of cold brew coffee were investigated using light roast coffees from Brazil, two regions of Ethiopia, Columbia, Myanmar, and Mexico. The concentrations of three caffeoylquinic acids (CQA) isomers were also determined.

Cold-brew coffee chemistry was compared to that of hot brew coffee prepared with the same grind-to-coffee ratio. The pH values of the cold and hot brew samples were found to be comparable, ranging from 4.85 to 5.13. The hot brew coffees were found to have higher concentrations of total titratable acids, as well as higher antioxidant activity, than that of their cold brew counterparts.

Therefore, if you are looking to decrease your coffee acidity, switch to a cold brew. The hot brewing process extracts more acid from the beans. This can increase the acidity of the coffee.

acidity of the coffee

Also, other studies have found cold brew to be slightly less acidic, which means it may irritate your stomach less. Another reason why this beverage may be less irritating than hot coffee is its content of crude polysaccharides. These carbohydrates, or chains of sugar molecules, boost the immunity of your digestive system. This may decrease gut irritation and the bothersome effects of coffee’s acidity on your stomach.

3. Grinding

How the beans are ground is another central point to consider. After all, espresso is much more acidic. It has a much higher concentration than regular coffee. Therefore, having a finer grind can result in a much stronger tasting acidic cup of coffee.  The acid is needed to create a good-tasting cup of coffee. The finer the grind is, the more acid is extracted. More coarse coffee can result in less acid extraction [3].

There is a reason you can use cheaper coffee to create a quality tasting cup of cold brew. The acids help to unleash the true aroma and taste of quality beans. If you are looking to lower your acid intake, switch to a cold brew. It is a viable option as mentioned in number two.

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FAQs on Is Coffee Acidic

Why is coffee acidic?

Coffee is acidic because of the presence of nine different types of acids. Listed from highest concentration to lowest:

  1. Chlorogenic
  2. Quinic
  3. Citric
  4. Acetic
  5. Lactic
  6. Malic
  7. Phosphoric
  8. Linoleic
  9. Palmitic

Acids give the coffee a unique flavor and are responsible for the acidic coffee flavor. The pH of this beverage is 4.85 to 5.10, which is mildly acidic, but is less acidic than beer or orange juice. The taste of coffee depends upon its acidity. Some people like acidic coffee while others prefer less acidic, so brands sell coffee of different pH by varying the concentration of acid per unit consumption.

Why is coffee acidic

Is decaffeinated coffee acidic?

Decaf coffee has at least about 97% of its caffeine removed. The pH of decaffeinated is about 5 to 5.01, which is equal to regular coffee, so decaf is also acidic.

Is coffee acidic or basic?

Anything with a pH of less than 7 is acidic, so coffee has a pH of 5, so it is acidic, and if something falls at 0, it is highly acidic.

Is tea less acidic than coffee?

Black and green tea is typically less acidic than coffee. It has been determined that coffee was less acidic than lemon tea and more acidic than black. Black tea was found to have a pH of 6.37, while coffee had a pH of 5.35. So, the acidity level for tea or coffee depends on where  it came from.

FAQ Continued – The Role of Acids

Is coffee acidic or alkaline?

Coffee is acidic. However, acids can be balanced by using an appropriate amount of alkaline substances. For instance, by adding a 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda to your pot of coffee it can smooth out the brassy flavor of cheap coffee and make it easier to digest.

Is dark roast coffee less acidic?

When you roast coffee for shorter durations, it is more acidic. In contrast, if you roast your coffee beans for a longer period of time, it is less acidic because chlorogenic acid levels decrease as the beans are hotter.

Is cold brew coffee less acidic?

Cold Brew coffee has an average acidity of 5.15, which is about equal to that of hot brew one (4.85).

Is black coffee acidic?

Yes, it measures at a pH 5, which is similar to the pH of a banana. Go for a darker roast when drinking black coffee. Remember, the lighter roasts contain more acid and darker roasts contain less acid.

Is coffee acidic bad for teeth?

the coffee turns the woman teeth yellow

According to Ethos Orthodontics, coffee is a very acidic drink, so drinking coffee can lead to tooth enamel erosion, causing your teeth to become thin and brittle. It’s vital to understand coffee stains do not erode enamel – the tooth’s protective outer layer. Substances high in acidity are more prone to weaken the enamel of your teeth.

Coffee contains ingredients called tannins, which are a type of polyphenol that breaks down in the water. They are found in beverages like wine or tea. Tannins cause color compounds to stick to your teeth. When these compounds stick, they can leave an unwanted yellow hue behind. It only takes one cup of coffee a day to cause stained teeth.

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Final Thoughts

There are over thirty organic acids present in coffee, and one of the primary acids is called chlorogenic acid. This antioxidant is responsible for giving coffee the distinction of having excellent antioxidant properties. Another essential acid is called quinic acid, which is responsible for providing coffee its unique taste and smell while also causing people to feel a sour stomach after drinking coffee.

The acidity of coffee also depends on the additives. Sugar and milk aids in removing the harshness, and hence they reduce the sourness of the coffee. However, it’s more acidic. So coffee, a drink widely consumed across the world, is slightly acidic. Nevertheless, this acid is responsible for the great taste based on the drinker’s preference.

Further Reading

Sources

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6207714/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19530715/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6560105/
  4. https://www.healthline.com/health/dental-and-oral-health/what-does-coffee-do-to-your-teeth
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Sherry Harris

Sherry Harris, a bonafide coffee brewing and tasting enthusiast, is the founder of Coffee Shop Lady. She writes for regular coffee drinkers who like being informed about the best coffee beans from around the world, espresso machines, coffee makers, grinders, and delicious coffee drinks and recipes.