The Chemistry of Acidity
Making your coffee less acidic is a chemistry problem.
The idea is to neutralize the acid in the coffee. Calcium is an acid neutralizer. So of course, milk is the ideal substance to neutralize the acid in your coffee. Adding cream or Half and Half to your coffee is the perfect solution to cut down and neutralize the acidity directly in the cup.
Rather than salt, a small teaspoon of baking soda mixed into the grounds before brewing will cut the acidity like a knife and the coffee will taste smooth rather than bitter when it’s brewed.
This is especially helpful if you use city chlorinated water. Because baking soda is an alkaline, the chemistry of mixing baking soda with the coffee is why this works to diffuse the acidity. Simple chemistry.
How to Brew Coffee That is Low in Acidity
It is never a good idea to preset a timer to brew coffee. Eight hours is a long time to have water just hanging around in the pot.
Always brew using fresh water if possible.
When water sits around longer, it loses its power as a solvent, enabling the coffee to be more acidic by default.
Filtered water is even better than fresh for less acidic coffee.
Make sure to use the correct measurements of coffee. Two heaping tablespoons of ground coffee for each 6 oz of fresh water. It is a misconception that brewing with less coffee will give you a lighter brew. Instead, brewing with less coffee more often results in over-extraction of the bean.
This is what leads to more bitterness.
If you like weaker coffee, brew coffee at full strength and then put some hot water in your cup.
Also, keep in mind that caffeine levels and acidic levels drop as the roast darkens.
Cold Brew Coffee is Naturally Low in Acidity
Cold brew coffee is basically made by adding room temperature water or cold water to the ground coffee and letting the coffee and water sit in a slow steep for 10 to 20, and even 30 hours.
After the coffee has brewed in this manner, it is then filtered, diluted, and then served in a glass over ice or rewarmed in some cases.
This is not conventional iced coffee, but rather a different type of brewing which reduces the acid content in the coffee.
The flavor is therefore enhanced by the way this coffee is slow brewed. Cold brew is promoted as “ideal” for those people who suffer from acid reflux and who love their coffee.
It’s in the Bean
Coffee bean choices make a difference in the acidity of the coffee product. The acid content in coffee depends on the type of bean used to make the coffee and the roasting method.
Arabica beans are the most popular beans and make up 60% of the world’s coffee production. These beans are considered by many to be superior to Robusta beans because of flavor and lower acidity.
Arabica beans are believed to be more pleasant because they contain almost double the amount of sugar compared to Robusta beans and half the caffeine level.
Acidity Also Refers to Coffee’s Flavor Profile
High Acidity or lower acidity, most coffee lovers primarily care about the flavor in their Joe.
Does the coffee have a pleasing aroma? Is the taste of that first sip the one that makes us glad we are greeting a new day?
If so, we manage any acidity that may be present with chemistry knowledge and we move on to face the world, cup in hand.
Of course you can also manage acidity naturally too:
What Growing Regions are Best for a Naturally Low Acid Coffee?
Areas where coffee grows in lowland areas tend to produce a lower acid bean. The higher in elevation a coffee is grown, it will become more acidic and contain a higher caffeine level.
In the US casual coffee drinkers tend to like coffees that are described as “smooth”, “bold”, or “full bodied” which are easy ways of describing coffee that is less acidic or bright.
There’s a reason that the following coffee growing regions are so popular in low cost coffee blends, they are low lying regions that produce naturally less acid during the brewing process.
A lowland region, Sumatra is known for a smooth flavor as well as production of naturally low acid coffee beans that are often dark roasted for further lowered acidity. These beans tend to give a light chocolate flavor to the final brew.
Brazilian coffee is often dark roasted, helping to lower acidity levels further and producing a smooth and well loved cup of coffee.
Though Brazilian coffees tend to grow in higher elevations, the roasting process is key to helping them achieve a low acid level. Be careful to choose darker roasts and espresso, as Brazilian beans can be acidic.
Columbian coffee can be another tricky one, be careful to choose darker roasted beans. This region’s beans can change from low to medium in acidity as you choose lighter roasts.
Those who enjoy a lighter flavored coffee may wish to try the washed coffee that comes from Ethiopia. With a much lighter flavor that some compare more like a tea, floral and fruity notes become more apparent and acidity levels are naturally low.
A good choice for a lower acid coffee can be a decaf, with the reduction of caffeine level also comes a great reduction in the acidity level.
Of course caffeine can be the whole reason we’re looking for a cup of joe in the first place, so use at your own discretion!