Coffee is a naturally acidic beverage. The acid that naturally occurs in the beans is part of the flavor profile that makes up your favorite beverage/habit.
Some of these organic acids are powerful antioxidants that many studies have shown can provide health benefits. However, everyone handles acid differently—whatever your personal reasons are for wanting to make your coffee less acidic, here are some simple methods you can try:
Check Your Roast
Remember that famous rhyme, “First and foremost, check your roast?” No? Maybe I dreamt it. But even if I did, it’s good advice for drinking less acidic coffee.
Lighter roasts are more acidic than darker roasts. (Contrary to what many people think, bitter taste ≠ acidity.) It’s as simple as that.
So one easy way you might make less acidic coffee is to switch to a dark roast, like Black Insomnia Dark Roast.
Er, cold. Allow me to break the ice… (Batman)
Cold brewing, which essentially just uses cold water rather than hot water like most other methods of brewing, can potentially produce much less acidic coffee.
This is why cold brew is often favored by people who have minor digestive problems or minor acid reflux issues. Fortunately, making cold brew coffee is very simple.
One of the easiest ways to reduce the acidity of coffee is one that you might already be doing. Adding milk or cream helps balance out the PH level of coffee.
What is the PH of coffee? Generally around 5, with some light roasts around approximately ~4.7.
PH values lower than 7 are considered acidic.
(For comparison, orange juice is about 3 on the PH scale.)
Unlike other coffee additives, like sugars, sweeteners, and syrups, adding milk doesn’t just lower the bitter taste that many people incorrectly perceive as higher acidity. Some of the specific proteins in milk can potentially discourage a surge in stomach acid that might otherwise come from drinking black coffee.
Of course, depending on how your body handles milk, adding dairy could make things worse instead of better. So if milk tends to make your stomach upset, you should still avoid it.
This one’s a little controversial to say the least.
Some information floating around out there advises that you can make coffee less acidic by adding a pinch of salt to your grounds before you brew.
Personally, I can’t find much information to back up this specific claim, though it appears all over the internet—including some sites with the word “health” in the domain name but no real credentials or sources listed.
What seems more likely, is that adding a pinch of salt may make darker roasts taste less bitter, and darker roasts naturally have less acid in them. Just a theory, because according to sciencenotes.org (which does list its sources) “From a chemistry perspective, adding salt has no effect on the acidity of coffee.”
Still, if you’re just trying to lower the acid in your morning cup and aren’t under a doctor’s orders to avoid acid or black coffee—it couldn’t hurt to switch to a dark roast and add salt if you find it too bitter compared to what you usually brew.
How much salt? Literally, “a pinch.” That’s all. Make sure you don’t add too much.
According to Alton Brown: “salt is actually better at neutralizing bitterness than sugar.” He’s right about this, because scientifically, the taste buds react to saltiness over bitterness.
Sugar can only mask the bitterness of coffee a little bit, while salt can potentially neutralize the bitterness. (As an added bonus, you might find adding a tiny pinch of salt can bring out the natural sweetness in your coffee.)
While you can’t completely get rid of the natural acids that make coffee coffee, you can significantly lower the amount of acid you take in by switching to a darker roast and/or changing your home brewing method to cold brew.
Adding milk and cream, or even salt, are some additional things you can try on the side—but at the end of the day the most important factors you can change are the beans you’re using and the method you use to brew your coffee.
Check out Black Insomnia’s Dark Roast Coffee to get 4x the caffeine with a less acidic profile.