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What Exactly is Acidity in Coffee? All About Coffee's Acidity

What Exactly is Acidity in Coffee? All About Coffee's Acidity

by Alex Brecher March 31, 2022 4 min read

Many people can manage heartburn with some careful choices and preparation, such as having an antacid on hand. But after bariatric surgery, you may be very susceptible to heartburn. You may need to take extra precautions. And many bariatric surgeons say to avoid coffee. Do you really need to do so?

Acidity in coffee is a real concern. It may be a trigger for harmful and uncomfortable acid reflux or heartburn. Since it’s not really possible to significantly lower the acidity of coffee when you are brewing it, you may want to consider a low-acid choice, such as Alex’s Acid-Free Regular or Decaf Coffee.

Heartburn and Acid in Foods and Beverages

Many foods and beverages are reported to be triggers for heartburn in some people. Heartburn is especially common after bariatric surgery. Your surgeon or nutritionist may suggest avoiding some of these foods and drinks.

  • Tomatoes and tomato sauce
  • Onions and garlic
  • Vinegar
  • Fried foods, including potato and tortilla chips, fried chicken, and French fries
  • Hot peppers and other spicy foods
  • Fatty and processed meats
  • Wine and liquor
  • Carbonated beverages

Coffee is often on the list, too. That’s a major problem if you’re among the millions of Americans who depend on their daily brew for energy or comfort. Life without coffee can seem bleak and make bariatric surgery seem even harder. 

Heartburn is uncomfortable, as it causes a sometimes unbearable burning sensation in the chest. But it can also be dangerous if left untreated. It can lead to cancer of the esophagus. There are some ways to fight heartburn.

  • Sleeping with the torso in an upright position.
  • Not eating too much or too late at night.
  • Keeping exercise intensity low after you eat.
  • Wearing loose-fitting clothing that does not squeeze your stomach too much.
  • Asking your doctor about medications.

Since bariatric surgery is an extra risk factor for acid reflux, you may need to be even more cautious. Many surgeons and nutritionists say to stop drinking coffee because of the acid content. Let’s take a look.

The Acidity in Coffee

What is acidity in coffee? For coffee drinkers, it can be a way of describing the taste of coffee. An “acid” coffee may be bright or have citrus-like notes. But that’s more of a gourmand’s approach to “acidity.”

Now, let’s move to the scientific definition of acidity. Where does the acidity in coffee come from? It’s not what we commonly think of as an “acid,” like vinegar or lemon juice. But it’s definitely acidic! 

To give you an idea about the acidity in coffee, here’s a little lesson in pH. The pH describes how acidic something is. A pH under 7 is an acidic pH. A pH over 7 is basic, or alkaline. You might think of it as the opposite of acidic. A pH of 7 is a neutral pH, which is neither acidic nor basic.  

Coffee isn’t alkaline. It’s not even neutral. It’s acidic. Many coffees have a pH that is around 5 or even lower! Alex’s Acid-Free Coffee has a pH that is higher than the average of several national brands. That means it’s less acidic. 

Types of Acid in Coffee

There are a few main types of acid in coffee. The first is a group of acids called chlorogenic acids. These acids contribute the most acidity to coffee. That is, their presence is what is most responsible for lowering the pH of coffee to an acidic point.

Another type of acid is probably more familiar to you. It’s caffeine! It does lower the pH of coffee a bit. For people with heartburn, including many bariatric surgery patients, caffeine has another problem. It may trigger heartburn independently of acidity. 

Can You Reduce Acid in Regular Coffee?

It makes sense to ask how to reduce acid in coffee. The trouble is that there aren’t many effective ways. One thing you can do is make cold brew coffee. But that has a few problems.

  • It doesn’t lower the acidity all that much.
  • Antioxidant content may be lower than that of hot coffee, so it may not be as healthy.
  • A lot of people - maybe even you! - enjoy brewing and drinking hot coffee, or even using hot-brewed coffee to make iced coffee.

Are there any other ways to get around the acidity in coffee? Well, one way to reduce acidity is to dilute it. But, really, do you want watered-down coffee? It could work if you always want to drink lattes with a splash of coffee and a large amount of milk. But if you want strong coffee, dilution isn’t a great solution.

It’s probably just best to get low-acid coffee if you want the lowest-acid, tastiest solution. That way, you can prepare and drink it as you like.

Low-Acid Coffee 

For heartburnor bariatric patients

We set out to figure out how to reduce acid in coffee in natural and healthy ways. Since you can’t cut the acid much while preparing your cup of coffee, we knew we had to take it upon ourselves to lower the acid content before packaging up the beans and delivering them to you.

Here’s how Alex’s Acid-Free Coffee gets to you with a lower acid content.

  • We start with organic beans that have the right tastes and characteristics to be roasted to a French roast and taste perfect.
  • The beans go through heat convection rather than metal drums. They have a lower chlorogenic acid content because they never touch hot metal.
  • Our Decaf coffee is even lower in acid!

Drinking coffee can be a trigger for people with heartburn because of its acidity. For bariatric surgery patients, acidity in coffee can be an even bigger problem. Still, think again before giving up your regular coffee. Alex’s Acid-Free Coffee has lower acid levels compared to national averages, and Alex’s Acid-Free Decaf Coffee is another option for people who need even less acid. Talk to your surgeon or doctor about low-acid coffee to prevent symptoms of heartburn while keeping coffee in your life.



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