We have a lot of sympathy for coffee lovers who suffer from acid reflux. Acid reflux is a medical condition that causes stomach acid to back up into the esophagus, and it is definitely uncomfortable and at least a little painful. Unfortunately, the first thing your doctor will suggest is changing your lifestyle, including cutting back on things that cause acid reflux. High-acid coffee is one of those.
This used to mean giving up on coffee entirely. But companies have done a better job coming up with blends and beans that address acid issues and allow people prone to reflux to continue to enjoy it.
We took a look at a handful of different coffees you’ll probably run into while shopping for low-acid coffees and wrote reviews. We also included a quick guide to provide a few more tips for looking for the right low-acid coffee for you.
|Java Planet USDA Organic(Top Pick)||Medium||4.70/5|
|Lucy Jo’s Organic Mellow Belly(Top Ground Coffee Pick)||Medium-Dark||4.50/5|
|Mommee Coffee: Decaf, Low Acid(Top Decaf Pick)||Medium||4.40/5|
|Bulletproof The Original Ground Coffee||Medium||4.35/5|
|Manatee Blend Medium Roast||Medium||4.25/5|
Java Planet’s USDA Organic doesn’t just offer the best low-acid roast coffee beans; it offers the best low-acid coffee, period. It uses naturally low-acid Arabica beans to deliver a coffee that hits just about in the middle of dark roasts.
If you have stomach issues, you can drink this one with a lot of confidence and without having to sacrifice a lot of what makes a daily cup of coffee so pleasurable. Real coffee lovers know that it’s a sensory experience beyond just flavor, and that smell plays a role. The aroma of Java Planet coffee will pop your eyes right open while sending your nostrils on a pleasure cruise.
Flavor is a highly subjective thing when it comes to coffee. Different people take it differently. This one can cause a bit of a flavor identity crisis for some people.
The best low-acid ground coffee available is the Organic Mellow Belly from Lucy Jo. It wins this ranking in what is frankly a walk. We were tempted to name it our overall top pick, but couldn’t. More on that in a second.
The things Mellow Belly does well: basically everything. It manages to keep that jolt that caffeine delivers first thing in the morning, while offering a smooth flavor that goes easy on the stomach. For the price, we think it also offers a really good value.
Why didn’t we give it the top spot? Like most ground coffee, it loses strength quickly. You can prolong its shelf life by storing it in an airtight container, but that’s only delaying the inevitable. You can manage that somewhat by grinding your own and storing it, but when you buy it already ground, you lose that.
One thing worth knowing about our top pick for decaf low-acid coffee is that it’s designed and marketed primarily to expectant mothers: women who are trying to get pregnant right through to the day they deliver. Mommee Coffee is intended to provide the familiar comfort of a cup of coffee without putting their bodies through a lot of stress. We think that’s a selling point worth paying attention to.
The caffeine is removed by water processing, which, since it doesn’t involve harsh solvents, is the least harsh on the bean. The result is a better, more flavorful cup of decaf than those made with chemicals.
Decaf coffees are a little more expensive, because you’re also paying for the decaffeinating process. This one is no different. It might go light on your body, but it won’t go light on your wallet.
There is just one reason why Bulletproof’s Premium Medium Roast couldn’t compete for one of our top spots, and that it was its price. In the basics, this one is another choice that delivers. It starts with small batches of Arabica beans, known for their low-acid qualities. The coffee has great, smooth flavor without giving up any of the “oomph” that the caffeine gives you. We just love it.
But it’s far more expensive than our top picks without delivering more in terms of quality. It’s a great coffee at a price that should be reserved for superb coffee. For us, that was enough to drop it down to our fourth spot.
Within our rankings, we’re really comparing our number five to our number two, because the other three are either whole beans or decaf. That means they are different coffees. How does Manatee Blend’s Medium Roast Ground Coffee compare to Lucy Jo’s Mellow Belly?
In terms of price, it’s better. It comes right down to numbers, and this one has the lower one. It’s also really good on sensitive stomachs. So it does pretty well.
It just doesn’t have quite the great flavor that Mellow Belly does. Flavor is subjective, so it’s hard to assess, but we think that when it comes down to it, most people would think its flavor isn’t as good. So, we dropped it to number five. We did that because, in addition to everything else, it’s a ground coffee, so it’ll lose its spirit quickly.
Clean Coffee Co. says that it cleans the impurities from its Medium Dark Roast coffee to leave just beans and a smooth, strong flavor. It’s also based on Arabica beans, which are naturally low in acid. We agree that it’s smooth and pure. We’d suggest trying it during summer for cold brew.
That would require buying it as whole beans. We looked at the ground coffee, which means it’d lose its strength rapidly. It’s also expensive compared to other ground coffees. Worst of all, we think it has a weaker flavor than the coffees we ranked above it.
The word we’d use to describe Puroast’s Low Acid Coffee House Blend Drip Grind is “meh.” We’ve left behind the grounds and beans that’ll make you sit up and take notice and moved into the also-rans. This is one of them.
If you’re not terribly particular about your coffee, this is not a bad choice. It’s a step above major brand canister junk in quality, and it won’t irritate your stomach. It also has a lot of antioxidants.
Being a step above major brand canister coffee is good if you’re not looking to spend money, but it is if you’re looking for a good coffee. This one has quality issues. It’s also meant for drip brewing systems. If you like French press or cold brew, this is not suitable for either.
The least of the problems for Tieman’s Fusion Roast is that it comes pre-ground, which means you need to use it in good order to prevent it from losing a lot of its potency. It starts there and quickly goes downhill.
When it comes to getting the basics right, delivering flavor at a budget-friendly price, it fails. It’s expensive, and the flavor is pretty weak. That’s a lot of downsides.
What it does right is give you a pretty mellow drink. More bitter dark roasts might create confidence problems, because they taste like they ought to be more acidic. This one has a nice mellow flavor.
Café Don Pedro’s French Roast low-acid K-cups were never going to rank very high for one simple reason: most people don’t use coffee makers compatible with K-cups. But we felt obliged to take a look because some people do use Keurigs, and we felt they deserved a voice here.
The worst thing about this coffee is that the K-cups will drop grounds into your coffee cup. If you get these K-cups, be prepared for a meal of coffee grounds. These are also limited to Keurig coffee makers.
One thing they have going for them is their price. K-cups are by their nature pretty expensive, but these rank favorably with some of our whole bean and ground choices.
We’re just going to bottom-line it here. HealthWise’s Low Acid Coffee is so weak you might prefer to drink hot water with a black crayon melted into it. And, no, you can’t fix it by melting a second.
It not only has a bad flavor, it is also expensive. So, it tastes bad and is hard on your wallet. It even robs you of the simple pleasure of opening up a can and getting a whiff of coffee. For people who need low-acid coffee, that might be the one thing they can reliably take from their coffee.
On the plus side, it is easy on your stomach. Then again, so is hot water with a black crayon melted into it.
We can understand if you want to branch out from our reviews to do a little shopping yourself. Coffee is a very subjective thing, and what is flavorless garbage water to one person might be the most delicious thing to the next person. We put together a few tips to help you look for low-acid coffee.
Low-acid coffee starts with the beans. There isn’t some magical process to reduce acid already present in coffee. When it gets into it, it’s there to stay.
Two different kinds of beans are usually associated with low-acid coffees. The first is Arabica beans. These are beans that originated from Arabia but are now grown all over the world. That includes in Hawaii. Many of the low-acid coffees we reviewed are marketed as coming from Arabica beans.
The other factor isn’t a bean, but where it’s grown. Coffee beans grown at lower altitudes tend to have lower concentrations of acid because the plants are under less stress. Hawaiian Arabica beans are grown in valleys, so those are a good choice for low-acid coffee. But any place where coffee beans are grown at low altitudes is also suitable. Brazil does a pretty good job sorting out low-elevation beans for low-acid coffee.
We hate to say it, but any consumer who has health issues needs to be an informed consumer. That also applies to coffee.
The longer a batch of coffee beans is roasted, the darker it gets. Dark roasts, which are beans that are roasted the longest and are associated with bitter flavors that are harder to drink, are ironically usually associated with lower levels of acid. This isn’t different than the myth that dark roasts have more caffeine, when in fact dark roasts tend to have the least amount of caffeine in them.
Your next consideration is going to involve how you prefer to make your coffee, and whether you’re particular or in a hurry.
Whole coffee beans are a popular way to buy coffee among people who are particular about it. They’re attractive to anyone who brews using a method other than traditional drip coffee makers, because they allow you to pick how coarse or fine the grounds are. Whole beans also retain their potency longer.
Pre-ground coffee is great for people in a hurry, who aren’t particular about their coffee and just want to throw some scoops in a drip maker. Overall, these grounds tend to be less expensive, because all the major brands who sell coffee by the tub grind their beans for drip makers. The real downside is that pre-ground beans go stale quickly, especially if exposed to direct sunlight.
Low-acid coffee is one area where spending extra can make a difference. In general, when you spend more, you can get coffee beans that are more particularly grown and marketed. For low-acid coffee, spending a little more can go a long way to getting a little more pleasure.
Java Planet’s USDA Organic Coffee was top pick in our reviews, not just for whole beans but also overall. We liked its combination of value and aroma, while noting that flavor will always be an eye-of-the-beholder thing. We also really liked Lucy Jo’s Organic Mellow Belly for retaining its caffeine punch while offering a stomach-friendly smoothness. We just couldn’t give it our top rank because ground coffee loses its punch too quickly. If you’re looking for a low-acid decaf, we’d suggest Mommee Coffee’s. Why? It was designed for mothers-to-be. If it’s good for a pregnant woman, we think it’s good for everyone. Just be aware that it’s expensive.
Bulletproof’s Premium Medium Roast Beans were another coffee that we loved but found to be too expensive. In this case, it’s expensive enough to drop it out of contention for our top spots. Manatee Blend’s Medium Roast was a great deal that offered decent flavor but came pre-ground. That means it’ll lose flavor quickly.
Clean Coffee Co.’s Medium Dark Roast ground coffee is smooth and goes light on the stomach, but it’s also expensive without demonstrably better flavor. Puroast’s House Blend Drip Grind comes pre-ground for drip coffee makers. It’s got lots of antioxidants and it’s pretty affordable. But it’s also ground coffee, so it loses strength quickly and has flavor issues.
Tieman’s Fusion Roast, Low Acid Medium Roast is overpriced but underdelivers when it comes to quality. Café Don Pedro’s French Roast offers a value option for Keurig owners who need low-acid coffee. The problem is that you’ll be eating coffee grounds, too. HealthWise’s Low Acid Coffee doesn’t smell or taste like coffee. You can do much better.
Header image credit: David Joyce, Flickr
Table of Contents
What’s the Best Kind of Water for Coffee? (It Makes a BIG Difference!)
3 Tips & Tricks For Switching To Black Coffee
How to Make Coffee Liqueur at Home
7 Gift Basket Ideas for the Coffee Lover
How to Reduce Bitterness in Your Coffee