Coffee is the drink of choice for many people, especially during the early morning hours. For some people, drinking coffee has as many drawbacks as benefits. If you’re one of the many people dealing with a reflux disorder, you no longer have to avoid your morning cup of coffee to keep heartburn away.
Coffee and Heartburn
People with reflux disorders like GERD trigger their symptoms when they consume caffeinated beverages and coffee. When a GERD sufferer consumes certain substances, it causes irritation in the lower esophageal sphincter. Once the LES weakens, it’s vulnerable to the backflow of stomach content.
Generally, coffee has a pH of 5, which makes it acidic. Foods and beverages with a high acidic or fat content oftentimes trigger reflux symptoms, including heartburn. However, when it comes to coffee, acid is not the main culprit of GERD-related heartburn.
Although many people associate this reflux disorder with the acid present in coffee, some scientists believe otherwise. Coffee has many components, including chlorogenic acid, catechol, and pyrogallol. In a past study concerning the correlation between heartburn and coffee, scientists neutralized the acidic content in coffee. To their surprise, there were still GERD sufferers who experienced heartburn after drinking coffee.
Their findings indicated that while one of these ingredients may not solely trigger heartburn, the combination can cause an adverse reaction. The blending of these compounds creates a chemical reaction and causes the stomach to produce more acid.
Decreasing Coffee’s Acidity
Although the acidity of coffee is not the main cause of GERD-related heartburn, lowering the acidity of it does help with symptoms.
Lowering the acidity of your coffee can be achieved in a number of steps, including:
Choosing a different brewing method
Certain brewing methods like using an espresso machine or french press keep the oil present in coffee that can cause sensitivity and heartburn. An easy way to remedy this is to brew your coffee with a method that uses a filter. By using a cellulose coffee filter, you catch more of the oil responsible for heartburn symptoms.
In addition to modifying your coffee brewing method, it also helps to reduce the temperature of your water. Higher water temperatures cause a larger chemical reaction because it activates the oil in coffee beans more than warm water, which stimulates heartburn.
Some scientists also believe that cold brewing coffee reduces the chances of developing heartburn. For one, cold brew is slightly less acidic, which means the reaction isn’t as severe as with warmer coffee brewing methods.
Use lower acidic coffee
Another way to reduce heartburn is to purchase dark roast coffee beans. Some coffee roasters reduce their coffee’s acidity by increasing the roasting time of their beans. Some remove the waxy layer of coffee to reduce the acidity before roasting.
While this does help control heartburn in people suffering from reflux disorders, this process also interferes with the bean’s aromatic properties. Another way some roasters do this is by sourcing their beans from very select farms that naturally produces coffee beans with lower acidity.
Add baking soda
By adding baking soda, you naturally neutralize the acidity of your coffee. Baking soda generally has a pH of 9, so adding around ¼ teaspoon of baking soda to your grounds helps reduce the compounds that otherwise trigger heartburn.
Like baking soda, salt is also a natural acid neutralizer. When added to coffee grounds before brewing, it cuts the amount of acid present. This is especially beneficial in getting rid of the harsh aftertaste of cheaper coffee beans. Keep in mind, adding too much salt to your coffee grounds can alter the taste of your brew. Start with a pinch of salt per batch of coffee for optimal results.
Making small changes like altering your brewing method or coffee roast allows you to still get an energy boost without the harsh after-effects. Adding acid neutralizers also reduces heartburn symptoms. If problems persist, speak to your healthcare provider about alternative caffeine intake methods.