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Ah, coffee! Dark elixir of life and pleasure — but sometimes you cause such pain! If you’re one of those unfortunate souls who suffer from acid reflux, heartburn and other acid-related digestive problems, your doctor has probably told you to avoid coffee at all costs. If you’re a dyed in the wool coffee lover, chances are you’ve decided that the pain is worth it — but you wish there was a way to enjoy coffee without suffering for it later.
Here’s a collection of tips and tricks collected from other coffee lovers that may help reduce the pain of coffee-related acid reflux. Nothing is guaranteed, but many people have found these 10 ways to beat coffee acid reflux helpful.
1. Drink espresso instead of drip coffee.
Drip coffee tends to contain more acid than espresso-based drinks because of the fast extraction used to get the flavors without the acids that can make coffee bitter. If you prefer American-style coffee, make an Americano — draw your shot, then add hot water until the coffee is the strength you like.
2. Learn to cold brew coffee and enjoy.
Cold brewing results in the coffee with remarkably low levels of acid. It does take time, though, so you need to get in the habit of preparing your coffee a day ahead. There are a lot of great cold-brew coffee makers on the market, or you can use the totally ghetto method of combining 2 cups of coffee with 2 quarts of water in a pitcher, stir and put it in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, strain the coffee through a coffee sock or cloth filter. Store it in the refrigerator for up to a week. When you want coffee, mix the cold-brew coffee concentrate half and half with water and heat it. As an added bonus, cold brew coffee tastes amazingly good. The slow brewing without heat seems to bring out flavors that get lost when coffee is brewed with heat.
3. Drink a glass of water.
One of the easiest ways to reduce the effects of coffee on your acid reflux is to dilute the coffee in your stomach. You can do that by diluting your coffee when you drink it — but who likes brown dishwater? Some people find it helps if they drink a glass of water with their coffee or immediately after downing their shot because the water dilutes the acid in your stomach.
4. Try dark roast coffee.
Researchers were curious about the specific chemicals in coffee that cause stomach irritation. They found that there are a couple of culprits besides caffeine. They also found that there’s a chemical in coffee that actually combats the formation of stomach acid — NMP — and that the longer you roast a coffee bean, the more NMP it contains. Some dark-roasted coffees contain up to twice as much NMP as lighter roasted coffees. The amount of NMP also varies with the type of coffee bean, so experiment a little to find a dark roast coffee that’s kind to your tummy. As a bonus, dark roasted coffee also tends to contain less caffeine than lighter roasts — and caffeine is one of those culprits that stimulate your stomach to produce acid.
5. Drink decaf.
You knew this was coming, right? Since caffeine is one of the substances in coffee that aggravates heartburn, stomach acid and acid reflux, decaf coffee can reduce your adverse reactions to drinking coffee. If you can’t stomach actual decaf, choose darker roasts, which contain less caffeine, and a brewing method, such as espresso, that are typically lower in caffeine than other methods.
6. Drink naturally low acid coffee.
Some coffees naturally have less acid than others. Avoid coffees that are described as “bright” — typically South American coffees — and look instead for mellow coffees. Pacific Island and Indonesian coffees are often among the lowest in acid. Try a nice Sumatran or Sulawesi coffee. You’ll be amazed at the rich, complex flavors you’ll be able to enjoy. For even more benefit, drink it dark roasted and cold-brewed.
7. Switch to one of the new low-acid coffees.
A number of companies have come on the market with reduced acid coffees that can make it possible for you to enjoy coffee again. The same people who found that dark roast coffees are less acidic than light roast coffees also tested several of the reduced acid coffees on the market and found that they did indeed produce less acid than regular coffee. Look for brands like Puroast, Hevla and Healthwise Coffee, all of which promise that they are lower in acid than regular coffee.
8. Add a coffee mix-in.
A few companies produce products you can add to coffee to reduce the acid it contains. The best known of these is Buisman’s coffee mixer, which has been on the market since 1867. Buisman’s claims that the ingredients in the coffee mixer bind to the tannic acid in coffee and carry it through your system without harm. It’s available to the consumer in 1-lb and 100 g packages.
9. Try a coffee substitute.
There are a number of “healthy coffee” substitutes on the market that you can try. They all claim to taste like coffee, though the reviews are mixed. Some people actually like them better than regular coffee, while others think of it as similar to the carob v. chocolate debate. Carob is quite yummy on its own, as long as you don’t expect it to taste like chocolate. Likewise with these grain-based coffee substitutes — they’re pretty good, as long as you’re not comparing them to coffee.
10. Use cream and eat a cookie.
A high-fiber cookie, that is. Switch from non-dairy creamer to real milk or half-and-half in your coffee. The calcium in dairy helps neutralize the acid in the coffee, making it kinder to your stomach. In addition, eating a high-fiber snack with your coffee can also neutralze some of the acid in your coffee.
Of course, you should always follow your doctor’s instructions, but if you really must have your coffee, these tricks can help you enjoy your coffee without the pain of coffee related acid reflux.