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What is Low Acid Coffee?

Low acid coffee is exactly that. Coffee that has been grown, roasted, ground and brewed with methods that reduce acidity.

Coffee contains a group of naturally occurring acids which contribute to the taste coffee lovers crave. Fruity nuances and dry, bright flavors are credited to coffee’s natural acids.

Although most people have no problems with coffee’s acidity, it can aggravate health conditions in some. The coffee industry has recognized this problem and focused a spotlight on low acid coffee.

Acids in coffee
The flavor and bite of coffee is shaped by acids that are part of the bean.
• Cholorogenic acid usually tops the list of acids contained in coffee. Coffee drinkers who suffer episodes of acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease often point a finger at coffee’s high concentration of chlorogenic acid.
• Roasting and heat are responsible for the amount of acid contained in a cup of coffee. While light roasts increase the amount of chlorogenic acid, dark roasted coffee or coffee that has sat on a hot plate for a couple of hours increase the concentration of Quinic acid blamed for sour stomachs.
• Coffee also contains Organic acids that add hints of fruity flavors. Malic acid is described as comparable to the acid found in fresh green apples. Tartaric acid can add a trace of grape flavor to coffee. Citric acid brings a touch of citrus flavors such as oranges and lemons. Acetic acid tends to be vinegary.

While a coffee’s acidity depends on the acids it contains, acidity is more of a fine-tuned description in the world of coffee. Acidity covers the flavor character of coffee, its bright aroma, fruit-inspired taste and rich texture. The taste of low or reduced acid coffee is often described as flat or mellow.

Acidity, is measured by a PH scale that runs from 0 to 14. A PH result of 0 to 7 indicates that a liquid is acidic. Coffee typically comes in with a PH value of around 5, more than distilled water which scores a PH value of 7, lower than orange juice which ranks 3.

Coffee’s acidity is determined by and where its grown and how the bean is processed and roasted. Coffee from Brazil, Peru and Kenya is grown at high elevations in volcanic soil. It is higher in acidity and is considered higher in quality because of its flavor. Coffee from higher and cooler regions also ripens more slowly and is believed to develop more complex flavors.

Although we think of coffee as a bean, it’s actually the seed of a red berry referred to as a cherry. Processing the cherries to extract the seeds also affects acidity and flavor. Wet washing the cherries involves pulping and rinsing the fruit from the seed. This process underscores acidity which isn’t compromised by sweetness of the fruit.

Dry processing is the older, more traditional method of processing coffee. The cherries are left in the sun to dry. Seeds are then removed from fermented cherries. It’s a simpler process and used by small coffee growers around the world that yields a smooth, sweet coffee.

Roasting and Brewing
Roasting coffee seeds or low acid coffee beans triggers chemical changes as beans are brought to high temperatures and acids are cooked away. Coffee roasting is considered an art that takes time to develop. Roasters remove beans from heat when they reach just the right temperature and immediately cool them. Heat eliminates acids. The darker the roast, the lower the acidity and also the lower the level of caffeine.

Brewing also affects the acidity level in coffee beginning with the size of the grind. Finely ground beans means more of the surface is exposed and more acidity is extracted during brewing. Brewing coarse-ground beans at cooler temperatures for longer times can reduce the acidity of coffee. Some coffee drinkers opt for cold brew coffee, made by soaking grounds with cool or cold water for 10 to 20 hours.

Health benefits of coffee
The acidity in coffee is believed to cause health problems for people who suffer from certain health conditions such as acid reflux, gastric ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome. Acidity can also impact dental health by wearing down the enamel that protects teeth.

Coffee with reduced acidity allows people to enjoy the morning, avoid possible health problems and reap the many health benefits attributed to coffee.

Although research on the health benefits of coffee are described as “in progress,” studies have linked the antioxidants in coffee to reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, liver cirrhosis, liver and colorectal cancer, heart disease and stroke. Regular coffee consumption may also reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Some studies suggest that coffee has a positive effect on mental health with regular coffee drinkers less prone to depression. A recent study connects coffee to elasticity of blood vessels which results in lower blood pressure. Coffee has also been linked to weight loss, longer lifespans and a 20 to 30 percent lower risk of premature death.
Reduced acid coffee is an alternative that allows people to continue enjoying coffee and benefiting from its positive effects on health.

Low acid coffee choice
Switching to reduced acid coffee seems like a smart choice for many coffee drinkers but it’s complicated. Searching for brands that contain low acid coffee beans, processed, roasted and ground to reduce acidity while maintaining flavor can be confusing and time consuming. Fortunately, it’s possible to find a coffee company online that focuses on a healthy alternative coffee sourced from Fair Trade certified growers.

Coffee is one of the three most popular beverages in the world, along with water and tea. Prized for its caffeine boost, and health benefits suggested by research, coffee is part of everyday life. A cup of coffee is more than a beverage. It’s a tradition, an invitation to conversation and companionship. Thanks to coffee with less acidity, people who are sensitive to the acidity of coffee can still enjoy all the benefits and pleasures of coffee.


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