If you’re dealing with unfortunate acid reflux pains after your morning coffee, or if you’re concerned about acidity for any other health reason, you’ve come to the right place. While we all love coffee endlessly, many people struggle with this acidity. There’s been a lot of discussion across the coffee community about different strategies that can be used to alleviate this pesky dilemma, and this is a helpful guide to summarize some of the best options.
First off, we should talk about a little bit of chemistry – but just a bit.
Is Coffee Acidic or Alkaline?
This question may bring up terrible memories of high school chemistry, but it is important to consider.
Scientists measure acidity using the pH scale – and this is a measure of the relative prevalence of positive hydrogen ions. This is because the more hydrogen ions are present in a solution, the more acidic a substance will be.
As hydrogen interacts with other elements, it can either lose electrons or gain electrons. If hydrogen loses electrons, it forms a positive ion – and this can then cause a handful of other reactions, many of which lead to discomfort.
If hydrogen gains an electron, then it bonds with oxygen and forms a negatively charged molecule. This is all a lot to keep in mind, and most of it doesn’t matter when considering coffee. But one aspect is super important: plain water is neutral (as in, neither acidic nor alkaline). And then everything we do to water can change this balance.
Coffee, in fact, generally has a pH of less than 5 (out of 7). This means that coffee is acidic, and the only way to make it less so is to somehow change the balance of hydrogen ions.
Because the goal is to change this balance of hydrogen ions, one of the most effective strategies is to use alkalizing additives. These include over-the-counter items such as Tums, but the easiest option is to simply toss in some baking soda.
Baking soda has a high pH and this means that it will bring down the acidity of any other compound to which it is added.
If you’re struggling to stomach some especially acidic coffee, you can drop ¼ teaspoon of baking soda into your pot. This will dissolve and won’t leave any noticeable taste. Be careful, because any more baking soda will begin to leave a distinct taste.
Different Brewing Methods
Another good option if you’re looking to make your coffee more palatable is to explore different brewing methods. Because certain compounds are extracted at different rates from coffee beans, cold brew is far less acidic than traditional drip coffee.
For more information about what makes cold brew special, take a look at our guide.
This means that anytime you sip a cold brew, you’ll be less likely to have acid reflux discomfort.
The Absolute Easiest Method to Reduce Acidity
And lastly, we have a method that’s so easy it almost feels like cheating: simply adding a splash of water.
Think back to the small amount of chemistry that we discussed earlier: water, by definition, is neutral. This means that mixing some water in with coffee will lessen the relative prevalence of hydrogen ions. This is a sure-fire way to raise the pH of your drink and to make your morning coffee a bit more alkaline.
The Bottom Line
Unfortunately, coffee will always be a little bit acidic. This is just because of the basic chemistry behind this delicious drink. But it is wonderful that there are some strategies to lessen the acidity!
Give these options a try – we hope they work out!