If you have crazy acid reflux or heartburn after drinking coffee, this is for you. Coffee has natural acids that for some people, can cause discomfort. Despite the naturally occurring acids, there are some easy ways to reduce the acid in your coffee. And yes, there are more solutions than just drinking ‘low acid’ coffee!
So I won’t get all scientific because that’s not what my degree is in. But, you don’t have to be a scientist to understand what to do to increase or decrease acidity in your coffee. Let’s start with the beans, before they even make it to your cup.
Where coffee is grown
The origins of coffee acidity starts with where it’s grown. Specifically, it’s the elevation that matters. Hard coffee beans are generally grown at higher elevations, which means cooler temperatures. The harder the bean, the more acidic it tends to be.
Acidity also is dependent on how the bean was processed, which just means how was it extracted from the coffee cherry. Coffee beans are either wet/washed, natural/dry, or honey/pulped natural. Natural and honey processed lend to more acidity to shine.
Both where coffee is grown and how it’s processed, are normally not known to the average buyer. You could ask the roaster these questions and they can provide the origin and processing technique for you. But what if you don’t buy directly from the roaster?
Grind Size Helps Reduce Acid
Yep. If you remember last week when I talked about cold brew, I said cold brew typically has less acid than hot brewed. This is because when making cold brew, you use coarsely ground coffee which slows the rate of extraction because of larger surface area. Plus, cold water doesn’t extract oils (which carries the acid) from the coffee. More on that later.
Now, if you happen to want to taste the fruity, acidic flavor of your coffee, grind a bit finer. But be careful; you don’t want your coffee to be sour. One other thing to mention, extraction time is different than brew time. Extraction is the speed to which the aromas and flavors are developed. Brew time is the actual time the grounds spend in the water. You can still make a coarse grind sour and that’s because it was brewed too long.
Coffee is 94%-98% water so it isn’t just your coffee that needs to be pretty amazing. Brewing your coffee with good water can make or break a cup of coffee. Some minerals act as acid buffers, meaning they are still there, but you won’t taste it in the coffee. Hard water has higher levels of magnesium and calcium which tend to extract more flavors, leaving you with more acidic coffee. But soft water isn’t always the best; the high sodium levels can make the acidity shine.
So how do you make your coffee less acidic? If you know the origin of your beans and you’re following proper grind size and brew time, then play with your water. Try bottled, spring, or filtered and see how it affects the flavor of your coffee. I have reverse osmosis because here in Vegas our water is HARD. I find that brew time and temperature are the most frequent factors I’ve found that affect the acid in my coffee.
Experimenting with Your Coffee to Reduce Acid
Coffee’s flavor and aromas are developed and extracted at different times during the brewing process. If you don’t use enough water, you could still end up with a sour cup because the first flavors to brew are the floral and fruity notes. The next flavors that extract is sweetness and finally bitterness. So if you’re finding you’re consistently getting a sour cup of coffee, pay attention to your water temperature and grind size for the way you’re brewing. If you’re consistently getting a bitter cup, you’re over-extracting with too long of a brew time. You want the perfect brew time for your cup; a balance of sweetness and body.
Water Temperature to Control Acidity
If you’ve been hanging out with me for a hot minute, you know I’ve mentioned a time or two about water temperature and how critical it is to brewing the perfect cup. Welp, turns out water temperature can play a part in how you reduce acid in your coffee.
The hotter your water, the more acid will be present. There are some compounds that won’t extract at certain temperatures which is why cold brew has the lowest amount of acid. This is why cold brew is known for the sweet, smooth, and low acid taste. If you’re looking to reduce the acid in your coffee, play with the brewing temperatures. If you don’t know what temperature your coffee maker is brewing at, you can take a thermometer and test the brewing water as it’s coming out of the drip. Many commercial coffee makers brew at around 185-195 degrees F.
The beauty of making your coffee at home is you can control how it’s made. Mastering these concepts of water temperature, grind size, and getting to know the origins of the coffee you buy all together helps you to make a great cup of coffee, right at home. Go ahead, experiment with different water temperatures, brewing methods, grinds, and find the one that really sings to your tastebuds. Once that happens, you’ll begin to appreciate the coffee experience!
Till next time friends!