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Are you one of those coffee lovers who suffer from heartburn? According to American Family Physician journal, 44% of American adults suffer from heartburn at least once a month and 14% report heartburn at least once a week. Millions of those heartburn-inflicted are coffee lovers who have been told by their doctors to cut back on coffee, or cut it out of their diet entirely. If you’re one of them, you just may be able to start enjoying coffee again, thanks to several new products that promise low acid coffee—and a few old methods that have always made coffee that is lower in caffeine and thus less prone to causing heartburn.
Do be aware, however, that scientists are divided on exactly why it is that coffee seems to trigger heartburn, and even whether coffee actually DOES increase the incidence of heartburn. There are two different schools of thought on it. The first suggests that heartburn is caused by the acid in the coffee. This theory is the basis of the recent surge of low acid coffees and coffee blends on the market.
Many scientists disagree, and point out that heartburn is actually caused by the acid produced in the stomach. In some people, coffee seems to stimulate the stomach to produce more acid, resulting in more heartburn and other gastrointestinal problems. The problem is that none of those scientists are sure exactly what it is in coffee that causes the increased acid production. The culprit MAY be caffeine, but there is some evidence that decaffeinated coffees are even harsher to sensitive stomachs than regular coffee.
With all the conflicting evidence, what’s a coffee lover to do? Each of the following five “low acid” coffee brands or methods have adherents that swear by them. If you love your coffee, but hate the heartburn it seems to trigger, experiment with these five different ways of making kinder, gentler coffee. If you find a method that works for you, stick with it!
Buy low acid coffee – Many coffee companies offer low acid coffee. Each of them use a different method of processing or roasting the coffee to remove acids. They include Puroast Coffee, Gentle Java, Hevla coffee and Folger’s Simply Smooth.
Cold-brewed coffee is naturally lower in caffeine and acid than coffee that is extracted from coffee beans using hot water. Because cold brewing doesn’t cause the same chemical reactions as brewing with hot water, there’s less bitterness and less of the acids that cause heartburn. Cold brewing may also be less prone to cause stomach problems because the substances that cause increased acid production aren’t formed in when coffee is brewed without heat. There are a number of different cold coffee brewers on the market starting from as low as $9, or you can set up your own contraption to brew coffee in your refrigerator. Read more on How to Brew Cold Coffee here(opens in new window).
JAVAcid is a coffee additive made with licorice, calcium and fiber, three ingredients that reduce the amount of acid that your stomach makes. The company claims that JAVAcid doesn’t affect the taste of your coffee, and may even be beneficial to your digestion by improving the flora in your stomach and intestines. It’s currently only available online at www.javacid.com.
Drink coffee that is naturally lower in acidity – While there are exceptions, in general, South American and Central American coffees have higher levels of acidity than African and Pacific coffees. Experiment with blending your own coffees through a coffee roaster like Dean’s Beans, where you can check flavor profiles of each coffee and choose beans that have less acidity.
Drink espresso. While espresso and espresso-based beverages taste stronger than drip coffee, they actually have less caffeine and less acid than coffee brewed by methods that take longer. It may be that even though espresso is brewed with hot water, the pressure pushes the water through the coffee grounds fast enough to avoid extracting the harsh chemicals responsible for kicking your stomach acid production into hi.