Is coffee acidic or alkaline? (3+ tips)

In this blog post, we will answer the following question: Is coffee acidic or alkaline? We will talk about decaf as an alternative and how you can make coffee less acidic. 

Is coffee acidic or alkaline?

Coffee is acidic and can aggravate acid reflux symptoms. For example, acidity is a term used to describe the clarity of coffee taste on your tongue. But a large amount of acidity in coffee is considered to be a desirable trait. 

Cold brewed coffee is claimed to be less acidic. Cold brew coffee preparation techniques have grown in popularity, both in at-home and consumer (or ready-to-drink) markets. Market researcher estimates that coffee shop sales of hot coffee fell 3% in 2016, while cold brewed coffee sales were up nearly 80% over the previous year’s record. Roast Magazine reports a 460% increase in retail sales of refrigerated cold brew coffee from 2015 to 2017, generating $38 million in 2017 alone (1).

When it comes to coffee, acidity is a sensation felt in the palate. This sensation is usually described as bright, refreshing, or clear. A coffee considered good will not be astringent or acidic. This will give it a taste that is softer and sometimes somewhat sweet. Acidity does not mean that coffee should have a bitter taste.

Acids in coffee are generally divided into two categories: organic acids and chlorogenic acids. In roasted coffee, an increase in overall acidity compared to green is attributed to an increase of formic, acetic, glycolic, and lactic acids that are formed while roasting. The acidity depends on the coffee variety (Arabica or Robusta), its roasting temperature, and the brewing method (including time and temperature) (2).

Awareness of weight on the tongue and viscosity is known to be the central part of coffee. A more robust coffee like Sumatra will weigh more and be more syrupy than a lighter coffee, such as Kenya or Costa Rica. Often, more robust coffees have a lower amount of acidity.

Is coffee bad for acid reflux?

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is multifactorial pathogenesis characterized by the abnormal reflux of stomach contents into the esophagus. Symptoms are worse after the ingestion of certain foods, such as coffee. However, some of the studies reported in the literature hypothesized the capability of coffee to diminish basal lower esophageal sphincter (LES) pressure, responsible for gastroesophageal reflux and heartburn (3). In fact, the health benefits and risks of traditional hot brew coffee consumption remain controversial. Coffee has long been associated with indigestion, heartburn, and other gastrointestinal symptoms. Studies found that there is no relationship between the acidity of the coffee (the pH value) or the amount of caffeine and the worsening of GERD symptoms (4).

Some chemical compounds are especially responsible for causing reflux symptoms, such as the waxes present in the cortical part of the coffee bean. Waxes may cause digestive problems. The dewaxing process is a mild innovative treatment of extraction in which the waxy layer is removed from unroasted coffee and this treatment might represent a feasible way to make coffee more digestible and better tolerated by patients with GERD. Studies showed that the consumption of coffee prepared with dewaxed grains reduced symptoms such as nausea, postprandial fullness, abdominal bloating, upper and lower abdominal pain and heartburn patients with GERD (3).

Gastric acid secretion is reduced in human gastric cancer cells by exposure to coffee-brew representative concentrations of N-methylpyridinium, which impairs the expression of prosecretory gastric acid secretion. This effect depends on the degree of roasting, with dark roasted coffee being less effective in stimulating gastric acid release, possibly because of the presence of a higher amount of N-methylpyridinium and smaller amounts of chlorogenic acids, trigonelline, and βN-alkanoyl-5-hydroxytryptamides (C5HTs). It is not clear yet whether a high ratio of N-methylpyridinium to these other components represents a critical factor in the reduction of coffee-associated gastric acid secretion (5).

Can I have decaf coffee or mint tea if I have gastritis?

Coffee increases the production of acid in the stomach, so it is not recommended in gastritis. This effect is possibly due to caffeine and other substances that make up coffee, however studies showed that there was no decrease of symptoms by patients with GERD who consumed decaffeinated coffee. Thus, in these cases, decaffeination is not recommended, and it is suggested to replace it with mild infusions such as sage or chamomile, among others. 

Mint infusions are not recommended either. Peppermint contains substances that cause the esophagus’s sphincter to relax, facilitating gastric reflux and aggravating esophagitis (6).

Other FAQs about Coffee which you may be interested in.

How long does cold brew coffee last?

Does brewed coffee go bad?

Does iced coffee go bad?

Final tips: How to make coffee less acidic

Here we leave you some recommendations so that you can enjoy this delicious drink without suffering so much:

Drink dark coffee

It has been proven that the roasted coffee bean offers less chance of acidity due to the presence of N-methylpyridine, which is found in beverages such as espresso coffee. Some research suggests that coffee, the lighter it is, the more likely it is to contain acidity (5).

Drink cold coffee

Another way to enjoy coffee without stomach pain is to soak the coffee beans, ground, in a half-liter jug ​​of cold water. This process will be slower, but you will get a low acid concentrate mixed with hot water in each cup you want to prepare and lasts for several days in the refrigerator (4).

Use baking soda

Adding a pinch of baking soda to your cup of coffee is also an option so that your stomach does not suffer from acidity (7).

Drink dewaxed coffee

Studies showed that the consumption of coffee prepared with dewaxed grains reduced symptoms such as nausea, postprandial fullness, abdominal bloating, upper and lower abdominal pain and heartburn patients with GERD (3).


  1. Fuller, Megan, and Niny Z. Rao. The effect of time, roasting temperature, and grind size on caffeine and chlorogenic acid concentrations in cold brew coffee. Scient rep, 2017, 7, 1-9.
  2. Yeager, Sara E., et al. Acids in coffee: A review of sensory measurements and meta-analysis of chemical composition. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr, 2021, 1-27.  
  3. Polese, Barbara, et al. Effect of Dewaxed Coffee on Gastroesophageal Symptoms in Patients with GERD: A Randomized Pilot Study. Nutrients, 2022, 14, 12.
  4. Rao, Niny Z., and Megan Fuller. Acidity and antioxidant activity of cold brew coffee. Scient Rep, 2018, 8, 1-9.
  5. Nehlig, Astrid. Effects of Coffee on the Gastro-Intestinal Tract: A Narrative Review and Literature Update. Nutrients, 2022, 14, 2.  
  6. Zaman, Wan Syamimi Wan Kamarul, Su Peng Loh, and Norhaizan Mohd Esa. Coffee and gastrointestinal health: A review. Malaysian J. Med. Heal. Sci, 2019, 15, 96-103.
  7. Pérez-Martínez, Mónica, et al. Influence of brewing method and acidity regulators on the antioxidant capacity of coffee brews. J agric food chem, 2010, 58, 2958-2965.