Whether it’s for health reasons or just out of sheer curiosity, many people wonder if coffee is an acidic beverage. It’s often said to be very acidic, in part because it can often have a bitter, acidic taste — which is a pretty good indication!
The brief answer is, yes, coffee is acidic, but it might not be quite as acidic as you think. Below, we’re going to go over what makes coffee acidic, and just how acidic it really is. Let’s get started!
What Makes Coffee Acidic?
The process of making coffee involves combining hot or boiling water — and sometimes even cold water — with coffee grounds. The idea is to extract caffeine and flavor from the beans to make a delicious, caffeinated cup of coffee.
The extraction process removes a few different compounds from the coffee, including lipids (fats), acids, caffeine, and sugars. Part of the extraction process will always involve the extraction of acids, and these acids, unsurprisingly, make coffee acidic.
How Acidic is Coffee?
The answer to this question depends on the brewing method, but most coffee, regardless of how it is made, will have an acidity of around 5 on the pH scale. This is lower than the standard 7 pH of pure, neutral water, but it isn’t as low as some other commonly consumed beverages.
For example, orange juice has an acidity of around 3.5, beer has an average acidity around 4-5, and some popular soda brands have a pH under 3!
Is Coffee Acidity Dangerous?
Coffee is consumed by millions of Americans every day, and, for the most part, coffee drinkers continue fueling their caffeine addiction without consequence. Some other common beverages and foods have more acidity, but coffee can, of course, be detrimental to those who have existing stomach sensitivity or problems.
Doctors often recommend that patients with a history of acid reflux or stomach ulcers, for example, cut down on coffee consumption or cut it out of their diets entirely. However, coffee likely won’t present any issues for those without a history of problems related to food and beverage acidity.
Is Cold Brew Coffee Less Acidic?
Many people believe that cold brew is less acidic because of the unique extraction process, which involves using cold or room temperature water. Although the extraction process as a whole takes longer when making cold brew, there will still be roughly the same amount of acid extracted from your coffee grounds as there would be with hot-brewed coffee.
This research article found that cold brew coffee has about the same pH as any other coffee. Many experts believe cold brew often tastes less acidic because there is often a more even extraction of all compounds, which leads to a rounded out flavor profile and less of a focus on acidity.
Is Decaf Coffee Less Acidic?
Many people believe that caffeine is the compound in coffee that makes it acidic, so it would logically follow that decaf coffee is less acidic. However, this study suggests that there are other constituents in coffee that make it acidic, and that decaf coffee is about the same pH as regular coffee.
There’s no denying that coffee, whether it’s brewed hot or cold, and whether it’s decaf or full-strength, is mildly acidic. However, the average pH of all coffee is around 5, which is significantly higher than other common beverages like orange juice and soda. While it may not be suitable for those with stomach issues or acid reflux, coffee’s acidity likely won’t be a problem for most healthy individuals.