Everyday Americans drink about 400 million cups of coffee. This probably doesn’t include the 20% of Americans who suffer from Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
GERD causes heartburn and other symptoms that irritate the stomach. It’s usually one of the main reasons the acidity of coffee becomes a concern or a talking point.
If using the pH scale as a guide, coffee isn’t as acidic as many believe. The average pH balance of coffee is five which makes it less acidic than other beverages such as soda, beer, and orange juice.
But when we refer to the acid in coffee it has little to do with its pH balance, and more to do with the flavor note created by certain acids present in coffee that determine its taste. Intrigued? Read on to learn more.
What Is Acidity in Coffee?
The word ‘acidity’ may conjure up experiences of sour-tasting food or foods that leave a strong reaction in your stomach. It often refers to foods described as sharp, sour, bitter, or tangy. However, the acidity in coffee is actually desirable.
It is a flavor note that’s often referred to as bright, dry, or sparkling. These terms usually indicate the coffee has good acidity. The acids present in coffee actually determine its taste.
The Acid in Coffee
There’s actually more than one found in coffee. Pure, green coffee has lots of different acids, both good and bad. Roasting eliminates some acids while enhancing others to strike the perfect balance of acidity, body, and aroma.
Chlorogenic Acid in Coffee
Chlorogenic acid is a natural antioxidant found in coffee beans. It’s the active ingredient that makes coffee acidic. It breaks down or degrades during the roasting process and becomes quinic acids.
It influences the coffee’s astringency and is responsible for the sour feeling in your stomach after drinking a cup of coffee. Levels of quinic acids are usually high in dark-roasted coffee.
These acids are also responsible for the chemical reactions that occur after you leave a cup of coffee to sit after making it. The level of acidity changes during this time and you may taste the difference as you nurse a cup for a long period of time.
The longer you leave it, the more adverse the effect it may have on your stomach. If it starts to taste strange, make a new cup.
Benefits of Chlorogenic Acid
Some of the benefits of chlorogenic acid include:
Weight loss – It reduces the body’s glucose intake by 6.9%. It also increases fat burning while sleeping. In a clinical trial, it lowered blood fat levels including triglycerides, total cholesterol – both bad LDL and VLDL.
Lowered Blood Pressure – It not only lowers blood pressure but also improves the function of blood vessels through better dilation.
Reduced Blood Sugar – It reduced glucose and insulin spikes after a meal as well as fasting blood sugar levels.
Coffee can also lower your risk of dementia and heart disease and its antioxidants can help protect against cancer.
However, despite its benefits too much coffee can make you feel anxious or nervous and it can adversely affect the enamel of your teeth as your teeth’s minerals start to deteriorate and soften at a 5.5 pH level.
After you drink a cup of coffee, your body creates more gastric acid. This may adversely affect the average person but will wreak havoc on people who suffer from GERD.
Despite all of this, you may not have to avoid drinking coffee altogether as there are many acid free coffee brands available. Cold brew coffee may also be an option.
Acidity in Cold Brew vs. Regular Coffee
The cold brew process involves soaking coffee grounds in cold water for 12 to 24 hours, which naturally moves some of the acidity. However, in general, cold brew coffees have a lot less extracted from them, including acids.
This gives it a smooth, sweet taste but it’s only slightly less acidic than regular hot-brewed coffee. However, the compounds it contains may protect your stomach from its acidity.
Here are some other benefits of drinking cold brew coffee:
Its Caffeine Content Is Comparable to That of Hot Coffee
Diluting the concentrate of cold brew coffee reduces its caffeine content so its similar to hot coffee. However, you’ll consume twice the amount of caffeine if you drink the concentrate without diluting it.
It Boosts Metabolism
When you’re at rest the caffeine in cold brew coffee can increase the number of calories you burn. This can make it easier to maintain or lose weight.
It May Extend Your Life
Cold brew coffee has many compounds that have high antioxidant activity. Antioxidants help ward off diseases that can shorten your life.
It Can Improve Your Mood
Caffeine can help to improve your mood. It also improves brain function and minimizes your risk of depression.
It’s Easier on Your Stomach
Although only slightly less acidic than hot coffee, the compounds present in cold brew coffee can protect your stomach from its acidity. This means fewer acid reflux symptoms and digestive issues than experienced with hot coffee.
It May Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease
The compounds in cold brew coffee may also improve your heart health by lowering blood pressure, stabilizing blood sugar, and increasing insulin insensitivity. Other compounds in cold brew coffee also act as anti-inflammatory agents and antioxidants. However, you should avoid caffeine if you have uncontrolled high blood pressure.
It May Reduce Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
The chlorogenic acids in cold brew coffee help to keep your blood sugar stable while controlling and slowing digestion.
It May Reduce Your Risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease
The compounds in cold brew coffee help protect your brain from age-related diseases.
It takes longer to make cold brew coffee than regular coffee, however, its benefits are certainly worth the effort.
Know Your Roasts
The level of acidity in coffee is also based on the roasting process. Roasting forces moisture out of the bean which causes it to dry and then expand and eventually ‘crack’. The beans usually go through two cracks during the roasting process.
The length of time determines the type of roast. Roasts are usually defined as dark, medium-dark, and light. A coffee’s acidity tends to be lower the darker and longer it’s roasted.
Dark Roast – is usually dark brown or close to black. The roasting process draws out the oils from the beans after the second crack and glosses the surface. Dark roast keeps the acids low during the roasting process. It usually has a smoky, very bold taste.
Medium-Dark Roast – the beans are roasted to the beginning or middle of the second crack. Medium-dark roasted coffee usually tastes a bit spicy.
Light Roast – is usually a lighter shade of brown. It retains most of the coffee’s original characteristics and there’s no oil on the surface. It has the highest acidity of all the three types of roasts and most of the caffeine from the bean is preserved.
Light roast is interesting as it has a variety of flavors with traces of sweetness, a fruity tanginess, and subtle floral aromas all at once.
The levels of acid in each type of roast will also depend on the type of bean used during the roasting process.
Its Origin Is Also Important
The origin of the coffee bean also plays a part in determining its level of acidity. Coffee that’s grown at a lower elevation naturally has lower acidity. A moderate roast can maintain this.
Moderate roasting helps to develop the sugars in the coffee beans without burning them. This results in a smooth, yet rich taste.
However, higher altitudes enhance the coffee’s flavor. The ideal condition for growth at this level includes adequate sunshine, a frost-free climate of about 60° to 70° Fahrenheit all year round, and moderate rainfall.
The cool air slows the growth cycle and prolongs development. This infuses the coffee beans with complex sugars that deepens their flavor.
Enjoying Coffee Your Way
You should savor and enjoy coffee in a similar manner that wine connoisseurs do with wine. You can choose different roasts, flavors or blends depending on your mood or what you enjoy the most.
As with all things, consume coffee in moderation so that you can enjoy its benefits without experiencing any adverse reactions from some of its side effects. Despite the acid in coffee, it’s still an interesting beverage. There’s much that you can learn from how it is grown, its roasting process to the infusion of flavor in every cup.
It also has many health benefits that you can take advantage of. Learn more about these on View the Vibe. Browse our online magazine for some more healthy lifestyle tips!