July 31, 2023 4 min read
Coffee holds the title as one of the world’s most popular drink, ranking third overall (behind water and tea).However, it is an inherently acidic drink, which may cause some adverse health effects over time. That being said, there are ways to increase your coffee’s pH, thus mitigating these health effects.
To understand fully why coffee is acidic, first acidity must be defined. A drink’s acidity refers to its level on the pH scale, a scale used to measure a liquid’s acidity or alkalinity. The scale ranges from 0 to 14, with numbers below 7 being more acidic, and numbers above 7 being more alkaline. The pH level of 7 is a completely neutral pH.
Coffee is referred to as acidic because its pH generally falls between a 3 (extremely acidic) and 5 (moderately acidic). This depends on a series of factors that will be outlined later.
Coffee naturally contains different acids, each of which affect the drink’s taste. The three most prevalent acids found in coffee are chlorogenic acid, quinic acid, and citric acid. Each acid contributes to the unique flavor profile of the coffee.
First, chlorogenic acid (CQA) is the acid responsible for caffeinating your coffee. It is extremely bitter, and the amount of caffeine in a particular type of coffee is an easy way to gauge how much CQA is in that coffee. More caffeine means more chlorogenic acid. Next, when chlorogenic acid is broken down during the roasting process, the result is quinic acid. Quinic acid further enhances the bitter taste of coffee. Lastly, citric acid has a sour, fruity taste that the other acids do not. Typically, citric acid is only found in light and medium roasts, as it loses its potency the longer the bean is roasted. It is generally found in Latin American coffees (1).
While all coffee is acidic due to the acids naturally found in the bean, different brewing methods can influence the acidity of the coffee as well. In addition to brew time, the roast, water temperature, and grind size all play a role in the coffee’s acidic taste.
Brew time is one of the main factors that affects a coffee’s taste. The longer coffee is brewed, the more acidic it will be (2). This is because there is more time for the coffee grinds to release acids into the coffee.
Additionally, the roast of the coffee ground plays a role in its acidic taste. One study showed that “the longer and hotter coffee beans were roasted, the lower their chlorogenic acid levels” (3). In addition to chlorogenic acid, citric acid also leaves the bean the longer it is roasted. In short, longer roasts result in less acidic coffee.
Next, water temperature can affect the acidic taste of the coffee. Hot coffee typically is much more acidic than a cold-brewed coffee (3).
Lastly, the size of the grounds plays a role in the coffee’s acidity. Larger grounds expose less of their surface area than smaller grounds. This means that more acid can be extracted from the smaller coffee grounds, resulting in a much more acidic taste than the larger ground alternative (3).
Because of coffee’s low pH in comparison to other beverages, there are a few health concerns of drinking such an acidic drink. The National Library of Medicine finds that “low pH is the primary determinant of beverage erosive potential” with concerns to dental erosion (4). Beverages with low pH levels are more likely to contribute to tooth erosion. Because coffee has been found to have a pH as low as 2.4, it is likely that coffee can damage your teeth (5).
Coffee’s acidity also may lead to digestive discomfort. Dr. Astrid Nelig studied the impact of coffee on stomach acid, and she found that its acid can result in “dyspepsia (poor digestion, discomfort, nausea, heartburns, eruction, and flatulence)” (6).
Finally, the acidity found in coffee may lead to acid reflux. However, these health effects can be improved by drinking alkaline water, as it can raise the body’s pH back to a healthier equilibrium. This can offset the previously mentioned health effects, as well as enhancing hydration that helps your body perform to the best of its ability (7).
As previously mentioned, it is possible to drink coffee without the negative health effects associated with coffee’s low pH. The easiest way to offset these effects is by ensuring your body is hydrated with alkaline water, which can help raise your body’s pH levels. Like any good thing, coffee should be consumed in moderation, and it should never be a substitute for water.
It is also beneficial to drink coffee brewed in alkaline water, since alkaline water will naturally boost the coffee’s pH.
No matter the type of coffee you are drinking, coffee is naturally acidic. Its pH typically ranges from 3 to 5, which means that there are health effects of the acidity. However, coffee can easily become a part of a balanced and healthy lifestyle if it is brewed with alkaline water. To make great tasting, healthier coffee a part of your daily routine, try a Seychelle alkaline water pitcher.
Does coffee alkalize the body?
No. Coffee is naturally acidic, and it has a low pH can lower the body’s pH levels.
Is black coffee acidic or alkaline?
Like all coffee, black coffee is acidic. How acidic is a matter of how the coffee grounds are prepared and roasted.
How do you make coffee more alkaline?
Coffee can become more alkaline if it is brewed with alkaline water, which has a higher pH.