We often hear questions about acidity as it relates to coffee. Our customers want to know which coffees are “low acid” and worry about the pH of the beverage. Acidity is totally misunderstood in the coffee world because it’s used to describe favorable characterizes of coffee. Acidity is a good thing! The pH of coffee in general is relatively low, so you shouldn’t worry about upsetting your body’s balance or alkalinity. If you have acid reflux or other reasons to look for lower acid coffee, there are some options that we’ll tell you about too.
Coffee on the pH Scale:
When looking at a pH scale, coffee lands in a range that is slightly more acidic than the body. Coffee is more acidic than something like water or milk, but less acidic than citrus juice, wine, beer and other beverages. When looking for lower acidity coffees look for arabica beans instead of robusta. Jim’s Organic Coffee is 100% arabica. You can also look for coffee by growing region- coffees from Southeast Asian countries like Indonesia or Timor are low in acidity too. Check out our light roast Indonesian or Sumatra French Roast.
The SCA definition: Often described as “brightness” when favorable and “sour” when unfavorable. At its best, acidity contributes to a coffee’s liveliness, sweetness and fresh-fruit character and is almost immediately experienced and evaluated when the coffee is first slurped into the mouth. Acidity that is overly intense or dominating may be unpleasant but in general acidity is what makes the coffee taste interesting, instead of flat.
Acidity can take a few different forms: citrus fruit flavors, tart green apple, winey notes. You can think of other examples of a “brightening” taste like sea salt on top of a caramel or lemon zest in your whipped cream, fresh lime juice in a vinaigrette.
Some coffees are expected to be high in Acidity, such as a Kenya coffee, while other coffees are expected to be low in Acidity, such as a Sumatra coffee. One isn’t better than they other; they just happen to have different flavor profiles.
Brew Method Matters
If you’re trying to avoid acidity (the pH kind) because of tummy troubles and acid reflux, a great idea would be to change up your brew method. Typically, coffees that are brewed with hot water will be more acidic. Cold brew, on the other hand, will give you a less acidic final cup. With cold brew you are steeping the coffee grounds together with water for a longer period of time, the coffee’s volatile oils extract slowly without being heated up – usually for about 12 hours. Making cold brew is really simple, and no fancy equipment is necessary. You just need a container and a strainer. You can make your cold brew at night so you can enjoy in the morning, or make a big batch to last you the whole week.
If you’re not the biggest fan of cold or iced coffee, have no fear! Our recipe for cold brew gives you a concentrate – you dilute this concentrate 1:1 with water. If you add boiling water to the concentrate you can enjoy a nice hot beverage that is still “cold brewed” that should be a little gentler on your digestive system. Check out our cold brew recipe HERE and consider using either a bean from southeast Asian or something that’s roasted a little darker.