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Is Decaf Coffee Acidic?

a cup of coffee on wooden table

The world as a whole is trying to become healthier. While this is a great thing, for coffee drinkers, it may be slightly upsetting. For those coffee lovers who have fought against drinking decaf for most of their lives, the possibility of it tasting just as good as regular coffee while being healthier is a difficult pill to swallow.

It’s a well-known fact that decaf coffee is better for those trying to avoid high levels of caffeine. But what about acids? Yes, coffees are known to cause issues with our stomachs and even our teeth, but is decaf coffee the answer for those suffering from these issues? Is decaf coffee acidic? The answer to this question is yes, decaf coffee is acidic, but you may discover it isn’t as bad as you think. Read on below to learn more about decaf coffee, its acidity, and whether it may be the safest coffee for you.

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What Is Acid in Coffee?

You may be wondering what we mean when we say acidic coffee. Like with other foods and beverages, coffee contains several different organic acids. Citric, tartaric, malic, acetic, quinic acids are all found in your favorite brews. Roasting coffee beans changes these acids. In some instances, you may see higher levels and with others, the acid is completely roasted away.

When people talk about acidic coffee, they are meaning the specific tastes the acids provide the coffee beans. Of course, citric acid, which mostly tastes like oranges, offers your coffee a hint of citrus flavor. Malic acid tastes fruity while tartaric tastes like wine. Too much acetic acid and your coffee will taste very similar to vinegar.

clear glass cup filled with coffee
Image Credit: Dominika Roseclay, Pexels

The Disadvantages of Acidic Coffee

While certain acids can help improve the taste of your favorite coffees, they can also be a nuisance to the human body. Those who choose to switch from regular to decaf coffee due to the health benefits are constantly wondering if those benefits include help against the effects of acid.

Acids vs Your Teeth

Anyone who drinks coffee has heard about the effects it can have on your teeth. Some people have staining while others have more severe issues with their tooth’s enamel. This is thanks to the acids found in your favorite brews.

Acids in coffees have been known to demineralize your teeth. Unfortunately, this makes them more vulnerable to more acid corrosion down the road. Certain acids found in coffee can also make your mouth make its own acids. When this happens, there’s a full-blown acid party inside your mouth damaging your teeth.

You may be wondering if switching to decaf can help with the issues coffee causes your teeth. Unfortunately, as of now, it really can’t do much. Yes, decaf is better overall for your health, but the acids are still there and your teeth will be affected in some way.

woman drinking coffee
Image Credit: Crystal Shaw, Unsplash

Acids and Your Stomach

Many coffee drinkers find themselves suffering from issues with their stomachs. This is not unusual and has been one of the main reasons coffee drinkers have reluctantly given up their favorite drinks over the years.

The main acid-causing issue with your stomach is quinic. When present at modest levels, this acid provides a smooth finish to coffee and a nice flavor. When found in excess, this acid is known to cause acid reflux and upset stomach. Dark roast coffees or those that have been left sitting in the pot are often the biggest culprits of high levels of quinic acid.

This is where decaf coffee comes into play. While you won’t be ridding yourself of all acid levels, decaf coffee is known to reduce acid reflux for coffee drinkers. Keep in mind, this doesn’t mean you won’t experience an upset stomach or other issues acidic coffee causes. It simply means decaf coffee may help you avoid heartburn and other symptoms of acid reflux while you enjoy your morning joe.

Cold Brew May Be Your Answer

If you’re worried about the effects of acid in your coffee, there is a way to avoid it and still get the flavors you love. Switch to cold brew.

Cold brew coffee may not be a favorite for all coffee drinkers but the process used to make it does help lower acid levels in the beans. When the coffee beans are soaked in water 24-hours before use, certain compounds cannot properly dissolve. This helps avoid an overly acidic cup of coffee when you drink it.

You may not be the biggest fan of cold brew coffee, but for a less acidic taste, consider combining this method with decaf coffee and you may have a real winner on your hands. You’d be hard-pressed not to notice all the health benefits of choosing this drink for your enjoyment.

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The Final Answer

Answering the question of whether decaf coffee is acidic isn’t as easy as you’d think. Yes, there are acids present in decaf, just like regular coffee. Are the levels smaller? Yes. Are they safer? Not in all instances. If you’re looking for a coffee that won’t damage your teeth, you may be searching for a while. If you’re simply needing a hot coffee with less acid to avoid upset stomach and acid reflux attacks, then decaf coffee is the answer you’ve been looking for. Give it a try and see if you experience fewer issues.


Featured Image Credit: engin akyurt, Unsplash

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Kate MacDonnell

Kate is a lifelong coffee enthusiast and homebrewer who enjoys writing for coffee websites and sampling every kind of coffee known to man. She’s tried unusual coffees from all over the world and owns an unhealthy amount of coffee gear.

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