The word “acidity” is commonly perceived as the pH level and in the case of beverages, this automatically translates to heartburns, indigestion or acid refluxes. However, in the coffee world, acidity is actually a component of good coffee and terms like bright and sparkling are used to describe this sipping experience.
When coffee is deemed acidic, people are actually referring to the acid content or acid strength. Coffee is generally considered acidic in the pH scale with a value of 4.85 to 5.10. But this isn’t too acidic since neutral is at 7. Other drinks we consume in our daily lives like fruit juices, sodas, wines and beer are even more acidic than coffee.
Right from when coffee is in the purest form as a green bean and up to the time we transform it into its brewed version, acids are already present. Some of them are further developed during processing while some disappear after roasting.
Citric and malic acids contribute to the flavor of your cup–the same acids behind the tartness of fruits like apples and peaches. Chlorogenic acids happen to be the antioxidants in coffee and help lower carbohydrate absorption in our digestive tract preventing insulin spikes and high blood sugar. Obviously, these are the good acids present in coffee that we wouldn’t want to eliminate.
The main culprit that makes our coffee taste astringent and unbearable–and might even result in stomach discomfort–is called the quinic acid. This type of acids develops during roasting which indicates that darker roasted coffees have more quinic acids in them.
There are a few way you can avoid having an “acidic” coffee and keep your tummies away from that gut-wrenching situations. For example, you can opt for lighter roasts, adding milk to your cup and of course making sure you only consume a fresh batch of coffee!