Is Coffee Acidic?

By Robert Parsons May 6, 2021

Many people want an explanation for coffee’s strong impact on the body, and asking about coffee acidity seems to be one of the first explanations people go to. So is coffee acidic? Short Answer: Yes. But don’t leave the page quite yet. It’s a little more complicated than that. 

We know the range of knowledge on acidity is pretty wide. For most, it’s been a while since we learned about acids and bases in science class. It’s expected that we’re a little rusty, but not to worry. We are giving you a crash course on acidity, then we can dive into whether coffee acidity can potentially be bad for your body or not.

So get your thinking cap on because this might be a giant epiphany for those of you who can’t seem to figure out what keeps making you feel not your best. Or maybe it’ll ease your mind that whatever it might be, it isn’t your coffee. 

Acids and Bases

While we might be vaguely familiar with the concept, it’s important to understand that being acidic is not a one size fits all term. There are many levels of acidity, 7 to be exact, ranging from water being neutral at 7 to battery acid at 0. As one can assume, each of those would have quite a different effect on your body if you were to drink them. 

Bases on the opposite end of the spectrum mellow out the acids. This would be something like milk. Now when the two mix, this is what is called an Alkaline. All of these terms fall somewhere on the pH scale. Acids falling from 0-7 and bases from 7-14. 

So, now that we’ve learned a little about acid. Is coffee being acidic as scary as it sounded? We sure hope not. 

Coffee Acid 

Coffee falls from a 4.7 to a 5 on the pH scale. Much closer to the water than battery acid. Coffee actually has the same pH levels as carrots. Hopefully, this eases your mind to the thought of acidic drinks and food. We are not saying coffee is not a strong beverage with a complex makeup, but the acidic levels are a small part of that picture. But it is something to note that even a level 5 acidity can affect people, so let’s dive into that. 

Stomach Problems

First, we have to answer the question “What do acidic drinks do to the stomach?”. While this is not a one size fits all scenario, most people know coffee has a history of upsetting our stomach, and the acidity level plays a large role in that. 

However, it’s also important to note that the acidity of coffee does not have the same effect on our body any way coffee is brewed. For example, cold brew is known to be a better option for those with a sensitive stomach as opposed to traditional brewing or espresso and other methods. This is because the acids produced through those types of brewing are much more intense on our stomach acid levels than cold brew or other less acidic coffee styles. 

However, there is a strong chance that your upset stomach is not from the stomach acid at all, but rather the caffeine in coffee. Caffeine can be an inhibitor for producing more acid in your stomach, resulting in the very unfortunate discomfort you feel after enjoying your favorite coffee beverage. 

Now another reason you could be feeling discomfort is you are drinking coffee on an empty stomach. Coffee is a complex drink with lots of acids and caffeine and with no food to mellow out those strong inhibitors, your stomach is going to pay the price. 

So, rule of thumb, if coffee is making your stomach upset, try switching to cold brew or lower acidic coffee (4.7 vs 5 pH level). Now if this does not seem to be fixing the problem, the next step is to try switching to decaf coffee. If neither of these things work, it’s time to evaluate when you drink your coffee, is that what you consider breakfast? If so, try eating a protein bar or some oatmeal before your morning cup and see if this fixes the problem. 

So Is It Bad For Me?

So we’ve talked about the stomach issues, the acidic levels, but the main question is “Is coffee bad for me?” Coffee is a strong drink that can affect our bodies intensely. Each person is different, so it’s vital to evaluate your body’s reaction to coffee to truly answer that question. 

However, making sure to eat before drinking coffee and taking caffeine breaks every once in a while are great ways to help make coffee a guilt-free drink without the worry of it being bad for your body. We hope this helped clear up some questions and gave you some practical tips that will keep your coffee a stress-free treat!