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Many people get stomach pain from drinking coffee, and they think there is nothing to be done. Some stop drinking coffee completely, some lower the consumption, and some will just suffer in silence. The reality is that you don’t have to suffer; there are a few ways to minimize the impact of caffeine on your stomach.
The most efficient ways to avoid stomach pain, while enjoying a decent cup of joe, are low acid beans, decaf, (or half decaf), milk addition, selective brew type, and specific roast levels. There are three other simple tips to avoid coffee related stomach aches. These are simple lifestyle adjustments, but they are very efficient. I’ll talk about these coffee drinking hacks in a bit.
Each approach has its own advantages and disadvantages, and some methods will work for you, some will not, but being informed will help you choose.
Does Acidity In Coffee Hurt My Stomach?
Coffee Is Not Enough Acid To Cause You Problems
People think that the acidity of coffee is the one responsible for their stomach aches. Companies specializing in producing low acid are emphasizing the high pH of their coffee in order to attract buyers with a sensitive stomach.
The reality is that coffee’s pH is already low enough, and the acidity of coffee, as a chemical property, is not the cause for your stomach problems. However, by processing the beans to lower the acidity, it looks like the resulted product is less irritating than the regular unprocessed coffee. Read on to understand what causes the release of gastric acid when you drink coffee.
Some research in the field, done by a team of German and Austrian researchers, conducted by Veronika Somoza and Thomas Hofmann, attributes the irritating properties of coffee to a few substances found in coffee, among which are caffeine, catechols, and N-alkanoyl-5-hydroxytryptamines.
The research also found that when the coffee is roasted longer, N-methylpyridinium (NMP) is generated in larger quantities. NMP is a compound that has the opposite effect of caffeine and catechols, down-regulating the secretion of gastric acids in the stomach. Here is a bit more about NMP and gastric acid. As a conclusion, the anecdotal belief that darker roasts have less impact on the stomach is scientifically proven.
Use darker roasts, as these are better for your stomach than the light roasts.
Cold Brew is Gentle on Your Stomach
Cold brew has 50 to 70 percent less acidity. Cold brew is different from any other hot brewing method, and the flavor profile is quite different. Coffee steeped at low temperatures retains delicate flavors that are lost when making regular coffee. You get a distinctive, rich, and superior tasting body, with no impact on the sensitive stomach. The bitter and acid notes, associated with drip coffee, are missing from a cold brew. Some people like those bitter-acid notes, and for this reason they stick to their standard cup of joe. We have a tutorial on how to make cold brew, check it out.
Toddy T2N Cold Brew System – Cold Steep Coffee Brew
Toddy is a revolutionary way to make cold brewing a breeze. You make coffee for a few days, and then store it in the fridge. The ground coffee never gets warm, so the flavors are perfectly preserved. Of course, if you need a hobby you could do this using a French press. You make it today and drink it tomorrow, I have done it a few times, but I think Toddy is the best way to prepare it. You don’t have to go through the brewing process every day.
Toddy is just one of the various systems. Check this page for more cold brew coffee makers.
How to Avoid Stomach Pain from Coffee
There are a few ways to minimize the effect of coffee on your stomach. Acid reflux, heartburn, and stomach pain can be avoided by using one or more of the tips in the list below. Each approach has its own advantages and disadvantages, and some methods will work for you, some will not, but being informed will help you choose. The last two tips are the easiest to implement, and maybe the most efficient.
- Choose low acid beans You can choose naturally low acid beans, or specially processed beans such as Puroast, HealthWise, Folgers Simply Smooth, or Hevla.
- Drink decaf If you like just the taste of coffee, and you don’t care about caffeine content, decaf is just the right choice. Caffeine is one of the components that irritate the most your stomach. You can also make it half decaf, half regular, and test it out.
- Add milk to your coffee By adding milk, you can sensibly smooth out your cup.
- Choose dark roast beans Dark roast beans are less irritating than lighter roasts. The only problem is that with darker roast you miss some of the natural flavors of the beans. For coffee aficionados, this is a huge problem, but when you have to choose between drinking dark roast and not drinking, the choice is easy.
- Brew type Maybe an underestimated tactic is the brew type. The less heating when brewing, the fewer irritants your coffee will contain. The number one brew type is cold brew, followed by espresso, French pot, and Turkish single rise.
- Don’t skip breakfast As shown earlier in the page, coffee itself does not cause you stomach pain. However, the compounds present in coffee, stimulate acid production. Your stomach produces acid in order to digest food, so you need to have food when HCL is produced in your stomach. If there is no food, the acid will affect your stomach lining. This is the reason you need to eat with your coffee, even if it’s just a little breakfast.
- Don’t drink coffee in the afternoon Coffee in the afternoon will cause stomach pain for many people. Don’t ask me why, nobody knows, as of yet. If I were to guess is probably related to the capacity to produce more acid in the afternoon.
French Press Coffee Maker – Better for Stomach
The French press is an interesting way to reduce the acidity of coffee. The temperature in the brewing recipient is lower than most other brewing methods. As a result, the substances responsible for irritating your stomach are extracted in lower quantities. A Bodum is a perfectly balanced way to make your morning Joe, with the perfect drinking temperature, easy on your stomach, and with a rich taste and flavor.
Our advice for brewing for a sensitive stomach:
- Use lower brewing temperatures than the ones recommended by experts.
- Brew longer to compensate for the low temperature.
- Use dark roasts
- Use beans that are naturally less irritant for sensitive stomachs
Check our masterpiece for some advice on how to use a French press.
Low Acid Coffee
Is the low acid coffee better for your stomach? Does it solve all of your stomach problems, and will allow you to drink a good cup of joe?
Drinking low acid coffee it’s said to help you enjoy the morning cup without the stomach upset, GERD, acid reflux, heartburn, and other bad things caused by coffee. How much truth is in this and what are the best ways to enjoy your daily cup without the pain?
Science doesn’t have any evidence that low acid coffee is better for your stomach. Anecdotal evidence, however, points to its efficiency. There are many people who can only drink low acid coffees. Try it for yourself and see if it works for you.
Puroast Low Acid Coffee
You need coffee, and a cup per day is great for your health, but you need to take care of your stomach too. You don’t need to suffer while drinking your cup. Puroast is one of the best tasting low acid coffee beans. The French roast makes it even better.
Puroast claim their coffee has 70% less acidity than regular beans and 5 times more antioxidants than leading coffees. I don’t know about the antioxidants, but people with sensitive stomachs love Puroast.
Low Acid Decaf Coffee
Decaf is already stripped by caffeine, which is partly responsible for causing your stomach problems. But when you use specially processed beans to lower acidity, you have a winning combination.
The Puroast brand is probably one of the best on the low acid coffee market. Consider trying it, many people absolutely love it.
The bonus that comes with Puroast coffee, is that it contains a few times more antioxidants than other brands, and this is obtained through their special roasting technique.
Preparation is one of the easiest methods to control the impact of coffee on your stomach.
Because of the lower brewing temperature, espresso is milder than drip coffee. The problem with espresso though is that being very concentrated can over stimulate the stomach acid. This is why I don’t personally recommend drinking classic espresso, but choosing diluted versions of it.
A great option is caffe Americano, which is a shot of espresso diluted with water. You can dilute it to a regular coffee strength, and at this point, it will be less irritant for your stomach.
Caffe crema is another coffee type made with an espresso machine. The preparation of caffe crema calls for a coarser grind than espresso, and a log pull. Because we are pulling a very long shot, the coarser grind compensates, allowing water to pass faster, in order to avoid over-extraction.
There are many ways to reduce and eliminate stomach pain from drinking coffee. The best ways are:
- Choose beans that are known to cause less stomach pain.
- Choose dark roasts
- Brew coffee at lower temperatures to reduce the amount of extracted stomach irritants.
My name is Dorian hand I am a former barista. I consume coffee in any form, as a beverage, in savory recipes and desserts. My favorite caffeinated beverage is the espresso.
I love to share my coffee brewing knowledge and my geeky coffee research. This blog is one of the places I write about coffee. More about Dorian…