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The Kick in your Coffee: Acidity

Coffee is one of the most popular drinks all over the world, and I, for one, can not start my day without a fresh cup of coffee in the morning. Its alluring aroma and tangy taste wakes up my senses and prepares me for my daily activities.

However, have you noticed that the bitterness or sour taste from your coffee differs depending on how strong you brew it, the type of coffee brand you are using, or any other ingredients added to it? Well, that’s because all of this greatly depends on the coffee's acidity and certain aspects that increase or reduce it. This is a quality that transforms coffee into the magnificent drink that it is.

So, let's educate you about the acidity and certain ways to reduce it to suit your preferences.

Acidity in the Coffee World

Most people understand acidity as the quality that makes our stomach hurt and produces a heartburning sensation, but it has other meanings for coffee experts and scientists. In the coffee world, acidity makes reference to the sharp and bright taste that a high-quality provides. It is basically the kick you feel when you consume coffee. Therefore, many aficionados state that the best coffee has high-quality acidic properties and sets them apart from ordinary ones.

Scientists define acidity as how acidic or basic a substance is on a pH scale. The scale ranges from 0 to 14, with 0 being the most acidic point, 7 is neutral, and 14 is the most basic. Coffee registers at a 5 on a pH scale, which makes it acidic, but other products, such as juices and sodas, are actually more acidic than coffee. Believe it or not, apple juice is approximately 3 on the scale, making it more acidic than coffee. Then, why does coffee have a bitter taste when juices and sodas that are sweeter, are more acidic? It is due to the fact that coffee also is composed of other components that determine its texture and flavor.

Does Coffee Contain Acids?

4 different coffees

Yes, coffee contains more than 30 kinds of acids that contribute to its pH scale but also affects the savoriness when you drink it. Some of these acids are also present in citrus fruits and vinegar and they include citric, chlorogenic, phosphoric, acetic, malic, quinic acid, and many more. Each one of them provides different ranges of flavor that make a quality coffee. For example, malic and phosphoric acid gives your coffee a sweet taste, while acetic and citric acid produces sour-tasting coffee when it has high concentrations. Even more Quinic acid is the main cause of a coffee's sour flavor.

In other words, acidity can enhance or destroy the balance and harmony of a cup of coffee. If there is no acidity in coffee, it is totally flat, as if you were drinking colored water, while too many acidic properties can disrupt the tanginess and make it sour and unbearable.

Does Acidity Affect Your Health?

Unfortunately, acidity does have a disadvantage regarding our health, particularly our digestive system. Coffee can cause digestive symptoms, such as acid reflux, heartburn, and stomach pain. Additionally, prolonged exposure can lead to serious health conditions, like gastritis and ulcers.

Both the acids and the caffeine contained in coffee are the cause of the digestive disruptions. They affect the linings of our stomach and intestines, irritating and leaving them vulnerable to the acid our stomach produces to break down food. As a result of this, many physicians recommend reducing our coffee consumption or searching for alternative options, such as decaffeinated coffee. However, there is also the possibility to consume low-acidity coffees that still have the savory taste we love.

What Coffee Has Low Acid?

There many approaches you can employ to reduce the acid in your coffee or find ways to neutralize it without completely losing its taste.

Let's show how to drink coffee with low acidity.

Use of Low-Acid Coffee

costa rica flag on coffee beans

There are many varieties of coffee beans that naturally have a lower acidic index that can be used as an alternative. For example, Arabica coffee beans contain less amount of chlorogenic acids, thus reducing the acidity perceived per cup. Costa Rican coffee beans are notoriously known for their sweet taste because they have low concentrations of quinic acids. Thus, you can choose for different coffee brands that offer low-acidity coffee.

Dark Roasting

When you make a coffee, there is no way to create a taste that it doesn't have. However, you can roast it to certain degrees to enhance or neutralize the acidity. The majority of the acids decrease when you roast them, while others increase due to the degradation of certain components. For example, chlorogenic acids deteriorate quinic and caffeic acids and reduce the acidity.

Remember that all coffee beans originate from the same green bean and when you roast it, you can determine the acidity. It might seem odd, but a mild roast produces a fruity flavor, but conserves a lot of the coffee's acidity. Therefore, a dark roast neutralizes the acids since heat breaks them down. Additionally, a dark roast helps your stomach produce less acid and protects it.

Cold Brewing

Another way to enjoy your coffee is to brew it with cold water. Studies have revealed that temperature affects acidity and cold brewing contains less acid than hot coffee. Generally, when you brew coffee, the water extracts first the acid and then the sweetness. Therefore, you can mix coffee with water and leave it in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, you can strain it, allowing the sweetness to overflow and decrease the acidic concentrations. However, you must know that the antioxidant properties also diminish when cold brewing.

Adding Ingredients

One of the easiest ways to reduce acidity is by incorporating other products. You can add milk and baking soda to counteract the pH scale and transform the drink into a more basic solution. Additionally, you can add a tablespoon of coconut oil to your coffee since it is a high basic product with a pH of 7 to 8. Although you will mask the coffee flavor, your digestive system will thank you for it.

Acidity is part of the essence of a cup of coffee and determines its high-quality taste. For this reason, you can find ways to reduce it, but you can never remove it completely.


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