For coffee lovers, hyperacidity is the worst. After all, conventional wisdom dictates that people who suffer from heartburn have to stick to decaf or—God forbid—give up coffee altogether.
But how can we do that when coffee is the elixir of life, the ambrosia that gets us out of bed in the morning and keeps us going throughout the day? Well, we’ve got good news for you—it’s possible that the problem isn’t with coffee as a whole, but with the kind of coffee you’ve been drinking.
Some types of coffee are more prone to cause heartburn, while others are more stomach-friendly. And it’s not all about the acidity of the coffee either. Rather, it’s about the substances in coffee that cause our stomachs to produce more acid.
A 2010 study by Veronika Somoza, Ph.D. from the University of Vienna and Thomas Hofmann, Ph.D. from the Technische Universitat Munchen revealed that caffeine, catechols, and N-alkanoly-5-hydroxytryptamides do encourage acid production. At the same time, the two scientists discovered that a coffee component called N-methylpyridium (NMP) reduces acid production.
“We found out there’s no single, key irritant. It is a mixture of compounds that seem to cause the irritant effect of coffee,” Somoza told the American Chemical Society.
Here are some tips to ensure that drinking coffee is a purely enjoyable experience.
1. Go for specialty coffee.
Andi Trinidad, owner of Narrative Coffee Company, used to suffer from gastro-intestinal problems before she discovered specialty coffee. All coffee is graded before roasting, and specialty coffee is Arabica that receives a grade of at least 80.
Arabica beans are less acidic than Robusta, and specialty coffee is less likely to irritate your stomach because it’s produced to meet more exacting standards. “Mas quality, mas delicate yung pag-alaga ng coffee, so it has less toxins,” Trinidad says.
Don’t hesitate to ask your barista if they use specialty coffee beans, and explain that you have hyperacidity. “It’s your health, it’s your right to ask,” Trinidad adds.
2. Check your reaction to dark vs. light roasts
The study we mentioned earlier revealed that in comparison with light roasts, dark roasts have twice as many NMPs which inhibit the stomach’s acid production. They also have less caffeine than light roasted coffee.
However, you might want to check your personal reaction to different roasts. As Healthline notes, “the symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may be attributable to components of coffee other than caffeine. For example, some people find that darker roasts are more acidic and may aggravate their symptoms more.”
For example, in Trinidad’s experience, dark roasts can really do a number on her stomach. So while many roasters recommend dark-roasted coffee for people with GERD, it’s best to see what works for you.
3. Choose cold brew coffee
Not only is cold brew coffee perfect for our hot weather, it’s the most recommended brewing method for people with stomach problems. This is because when you brew using cold water, less stomach-irritating components are extracted, such as caffeine and chlorogenic acid.
Choosing specialty coffee and experimenting with different roasts, beans, and brewing methods can help you find the kind of coffee that’s right for you. Of course, if you’re the kind of person who drinks over three cups of joe a day, limiting yourself to one to two cups daily could help as well. As you go on your quest for the coffee that’s just right for you, make sure to consult your doctor.