Is French Press Coffee Less Acidic Than Other Brewing Methods

Is French Press Coffee Less Acidic

Coffee addicts all around the country seem to covet the French press as the purest and most reliable method for producing the tastiest cup of coffee. Though lately, the coffee industry has been concerned with producing the least acidic cup of coffee possible.

So, is the French press a valid method to lower your coffee’s acidity?

Acid, a Positive or Negative

To answer this question, we first have to understand what it means for a brew of coffee to be acidic.

Often, when the word “acidic” is used to describe a food or beverage people mean that what they consumed left a sour taste in their mouth and a funny feeling in their stomach.

With coffee the word “acidic” is used quite differently.

Where with soda, citrus, and vinegar acidity is used as a negative, with coffee it is normally used as a positive. This is mostly because coffee is not really an acidic beverage. In fact, it falls on the PH scale at around 5. Soda, citrus, and vinegar fall closer to 3 or 2.

When using the word “acidic” to talk about coffee, experts are referencing the different acids found in coffee that gives it its heftiness. Therefore, when individuals desire less acidic blends of coffee, they are asking for coffee that has a subtle bite to it.

The Different Roasts Affect Acidity on Coffee a Lot

The next step we need to complete before we can answer our question is to understand which roasts of coffee produce a less “bright” or “bitter” tasting cup of coffee.

In the coffee industry there is really only three main roasts of coffee: blonde (light), medium, and dark.

Which Roast Profile Makes The Least Acidic Coffee?

As a rule of thumb you can assume that light roasted coffee beans contain more acids than dark roasted beans. This is why many light roasts are described as fruity or bright.

This is also why dark roasts are described as rich, bold, or smooth because there are fewer acids that reach your final cup.

If you want a low acid brew then you should go with dark roasted beans but there are other ways of making coffee than can lead to cups of coffee that are even lower in acid than traditional French press.

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What’s the Least Acidic Way of Making Coffee?

Although making coffee in a french press with dark roasted beans will give you a more balanced pH brewing it at room temperature will maximize the effect!

Cold Brew Does It Best

Hands down, brewing coffee using the cold brew method will consistently produce the least acidic cup of the beverage. To better understand why cold brew is effective at limiting coffee’s acidity we must first understand why coffee becomes so acidic.

Coffee’s Acidity, What’s The Story?

The acidity of coffee is natural, if you are referring to the “bitter” or “vivid” taste the beverage often produces. However, coffee is not, in terms of PH, that acidic of a beverage, for it only clocks in at a 5 on the scale. For reference, soda, vinegar, and citrus based beverages fall on the scale around 3 or 4.

That being said, coffee’s acidity or bitterness is simply a product of the oils and minerals found within its beans. Now, when coffee is brewed this acidity becomes activated.

Heat is the number one agitator of coffee’s acidity, which is why cold brew is the most effective method of brewing coffee with a low level of “bitterness”.  The cold brew method skips the heating process which subsequently extracts the oils and other nutrients from the coffee.

Other Factors that Cause Acidic Coffee

Aside from the brewing method used, the acidity of a cup of coffee can reveal various qualities of the brewing process. Some of these qualities may point to a poor brewing process, which can produce overly acidic cups of coffee.

  1. Roast of Coffee Used
  2. Quality of Coffee Beans
  3. Cleanliness of Coffee Machinery
  4. Amount of Water Used

Failure to land in the threshold for anyone of these factors during the brewing process can lead to an overly acidic cup of coffee. The cleanliness of coffee machinery and the amount of water used are the easiest of these factors to fix. The amount of water one should use to brew a certain strand of coffee can easily be found on the product’s packaging.

Is French Press Coffee Healthier Than Drip Coffee?

French press coffee is quickly become the preferred brewing style by vast amounts of drinkers in the coffee discourse. In correlation with its newfound popularity, the french press has also been the topic of recent health debates in regards to both it’s PH content and it’s cholesterol content.

Now, a plethora of coffee drinkers are left wondering if french press is healthier or more harmful than drip coffee.

The Statistics of French Press and Drip Coffee

Overall, the statistics and ingredients of french press coffee and drip coffee are quite similar. You may have suspected this similarity, for no matter what method of brewing you use, you are still brewing the same substance.

Across the board, health officials agree that most of french press coffee and drip coffee’s effect on its drinkers is quite the same. However, these same professionals have noticed a difference between the two methods in one area in particular.

In a recent study, scientists saw that the continued consumption of french press coffee can lead to a spike in an individual’s LDL cholesterol levels. This cholesterol is the “bad” cholesterol that is known to lead to strokes and heart attacks.

Though this increase in cholesterol levels may indicate that drip coffee is healthier than french press coffee, other scientists have also found no correlation between the french press brewing method and an increase in a drinker’s cholesterol levels.

The Verdict

Analyzing these mixed opinions and evidence, it seems pretty apparent that french press coffee and drip coffee are equal in sense of health benefits or detriments.

As continued evidence for their equality, even in the study that showed that the french press brewing method could be dangerous, the scientists indicated that a drinkers cholesterol levels would only increase after prolonged over consumption of the beverage.

The scientists warned that drinking more than 5 cups of french press coffee per day could lead to these negative increases in one’s cholesterol but if you use your french press to make cold brew then the final filtering process would likely remove many of these oils that are present while also lowering the acidic content of your brew.

Therefore, unless you are consuming over 5 cups of french press coffee a day, it seems as if french press and drip coffee are statistically even in terms of health benefits/detriments.

Now, we can finally answer the question we set off to ask since we know how a coffee becomes acidic and which brew of coffee provides the least acidic product.

We just have to answer one more important question.

Can You Use A French Press to Produce Low Acid Cold Brew?

Yes, in fact a french press can actually improve your cold brew, as the press can be used to filter the cold brew just as you would with hot coffee. All you have to do to use a french press to make cold brew coffee is insert coffee grounds into the carafe and fill it with water.

So, after all that the answer is… yes.

A french press does produce less acidic coffee than other types but if you use the cold brew method. Once you decide to make hot french press coffee then this is not the case.

Brian Mounts

Head blogger, editor, and owner of "Top Off My Coffee", a website that has been educating readers about coffee brewing techniques and equipment since 2012.

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