Heartburn is no fun, regardless of the cause. In most cases, you can simply avoid the foods that cause this problem for your body. If you love your coffee for the flavor and the boost it can give to your morning, but hate the heartburn it can cause, there are some things you can do to prevent coffee heartburn.
What is Heartburn?
Most people at one time or another have experienced a burning sensation in their chest, behind the breastbone, not long after eating or in some cases, not long after drinking coffee. This sensation is known as heartburn and it can be caused by acid reflux. Acid reflux is a medical condition which allows stomach acid to flow back into your esophagus.
Other symptoms can include a burning sensation in your throat, an acid or sour taste in your mouth, or pain in your check when you lay down or bend over. The sensations from heartburn can last from several minutes to several hours.
Rule Out Other Heartburn Causes
Before blaming your heartburn on your favorite coffee, make sure that there is not another medical cause for your heartburn symptoms. Other illnesses and diseases that mimic heartburn symptoms include:
- Stomach Ulcers
- Hiatal Hernia
- Esophageal Cancer
Best Tips & Ideas to Prevent Coffee Heartburn
1. Drink Less Coffee
Too much caffeine can cause the muscle between the esophagus and the stomach to relax. When this happens, the muscle doesn’t properly stop acid in your stomach from coming back up into your esophagus, otherwise known as acid reflux, which can cause heartburn. The recommended amount of caffeine is around 300-500 mg of caffeine daily. If you are consuming more than 600 mg of caffeine per day, reducing your daily caffeine intake can help prevent coffee heartburn.
2. Buy Coffee Made from Arabica Coffee Beans
Another tip to prevent coffee heartburn is to buy coffee made from Arabica coffee beans. There are two categories of coffee beans. Robusta coffee beans are grown at a lower altitude which increases their pest resistance during the growing process, but it makes them bitter and results in higher caffeine levels.
Arabica beans are grown at higher altitudes, which makes them less resistant to pests, but makes them less bitter and results in half as much caffeine as Robusta beans. Since too much caffeine can contribute to heartburn, buying Arabica beans which have less caffeine, is one of our best tips to prevent coffee heartburn.
3. Shade-Grown Coffee
Something that most people don’t know is that growing coffee beans in an area where they get direct exposure to the full sun is not the best environment. The sunlight causes the coffee beans to grow faster, which for commercial coffee growers means they can produce more, for less.
But exposure to direct sunlight can make coffee beans bitter and acidic. So, one of the best tips to prevent coffee heartburn is to make sure you choose a brand made from “shade-grown” coffee beans. The flavor will be smoother, and your coffee will naturally be less acidic, which means less chance of heartburn.
4. Drink Low-Acid Coffee
For some people, it’s the acidity of coffee that can upset the stomach and cause heartburn. If you’re one of those coffee drinkers with a sensitive stomach that is irritated by high acidity, you can look for “low-acid” coffee. There are a number of coffee companies today that sell “low acid” coffee which is processed in a way that removes much of the acidity normally present in coffee.
The process for manufacturing low-acid coffee varies. Most of these companies start with coffee beans grown in a way that produces lower acidity. Some companies further remove acidity by steaming away from the outer layer of green beans, or through dark roasting, interrupted roasting or slow roasting.
When it comes to acidity in coffee, the higher the pH level, the lower the acidity. Coffees made from beans grown in areas of Peru, Mexico, Nicaragua, Brazil, Sumatra, and Guatemala Antigua tend to be lower in acidity, especially if they are also dark roasted.
5. Drink Fresh Coffee
For those that have a digestive system sensitive to the acidity of coffee, one good tip to prevent coffee heartburn is to drink freshly brewed coffee. The longer coffee sits on the hot plate, the more acidic it will become. Depending on the sensitivity of your stomach, you may be able to continue to drink your favorite coffee as long as you remember to drink it when it is freshly brewed rather than several hours old.
6. Avoid Wet Processed Coffee
There are several ways of processing coffee beans including dry processing, wet processing, and semi-dry processing. Of these three ways to process coffee beans, wet processing involves separating the coffee fruit from the beans using a washing process. This way of processing results in coffee with higher levels of acid which can contribute to coffee heartburn.
7. Drink Cold-Brewed Coffee
Cold-brewed coffee is coffee that extracts the flavor of the coffee beans by using cold water rather than hot water. Cold water naturally pulls less acid from the beans than hot water. This means that less of the acid from coffee beans gets through into the coffee you’re going to drink.
To make cold brewed coffee, grind the beans yourself and then strain them using a French Press or a strainer and cheesecloth over a mason jar and refrigerate for up to 12 hours. The longer the coffee sits the bolder the final flavor will be. Once your coffee has sat, you can then strain again and heat the liquid if you prefer to drink your coffee hot.
8. Use a Coffee Acid Reducer
One of the problems that many coffee lovers run into with low acid coffees is a matter of taste. Some of the processes for removing acid from coffee can mute or negatively alter the flavor of the coffee. One of the ways to get around this and still prevent coffee heartburn is to use a coffee acid reducer in your favorite coffee during the brewing process. Coffee acid reducers include:
- Coffee Tamer
- Baking Soda
Some coffee acid reducers have been known to lower the acid in coffee by as much as 90% which can make a significant difference in reducing coffee heartburn.
9. Drink Decaffeinated Coffee
One of the best tips to prevent coffee heartburn is to drink decaffeinated coffee instead of regular coffee. Although decaffeinated coffee still contains some caffeine, the amount is significantly lower than the caffeine amount in regular coffee. Drinking decaffeinated coffee significantly reduces your daily caffeine intake and thus helps prevent coffee heartburn which can be caused by high caffeine levels.
Some of the best tips and ideas to prevent coffee heartburn that we’ve presented above can negatively impact the final flavor of your coffee as well as the other nutrients such as antioxidants, that are in that final cup of coffee. To make the best cup of coffee and still eliminate coffee heartburn, you may need to experiment with different options. But once you find the perfect balance, you’ll be able to still enjoy your coffee flavor without the nasty heartburn symptoms.