If your morning cuppa is making your face sour, there are two possible reasons – either you’ve added spoiled milk to it, or your coffee is too acidic. We’ll consider the latter. Acidity in coffee can be a trait when it is complex, but a real taste-terminator if unbalanced.
But striking the ideal balance doesn’t require extensive biochemistry knowledge either. Read on and see what you can do to reduce coffee’s acidity when needed and take pure pleasure in your cup of joe.
Coffee is an acidic ingredient. On the pH scale, where 0 is the most acidic, coffee sits at number 5, although there are more acidic roasts that are 4.7.
But don’t let that fool you. The acidity in coffee is not such a bad thing by default. In fact, malic and phosphoric acid can make your coffee sweeter. Which is why perfectly extracted coffee brings out the best acidic compounds.
The longer you leave your coffee on the hot plate to degrade, the more bitter and sour the taste will be. Why? Because you release more of the Quinic acid that your digestive system detests.
Despite the decent acidity that coffee contains, the most trouble that drinking coffee brings to your esophagus is not because of the acids – the caffeine is the culprit.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that consuming caffeine will set fire to your digestive organs – some people can tolerate high doses pretty well – but if the sour taste of your coffee is making you feel unwell, you should probably cut back. Drinking more than 400 mg of caffeine is not recommended.
Although many make the mistake of thinking dark roasts are more acidic because of their stronger taste, the truth is quite different. Light roasts may bring a mild flavor to your palate, but they will also drag tons of acidity with them.
Chlorogenic acid in coffee – the main reason behind the sharp, bitter taste – tends to break down during the process of roasting. The darker the roast, the lower the content of this acid, meaning, the more gentle the coffee to your tummy.
How you prepare your morning brew plays a crucial role in developing the acids in your cup. Hot brews, in general, tend to be more acidic than cold-brewed coffee.
In fact, cold brew can knock down 60% of the coffee’s acidity during the steeping process. Keep in mind, though, that while hot Java may be more acidic, it is also high with antioxidants that its cold relative lacks.
The rule of coffee extraction is: the lower the brewing time is, the more and acidic the coffee. That is because the fruity acids get released first. If you do not extract long enough for the sweet notes to hit the pot, the taste will be sour.
So, why not extract the beans for longer, and problem solved, right? Not even close! Over-extraction is just as bad as under-extraction. It is rich in that bitter taste most avid drinkers find unpleasant.
Coffee extraction does not have an on/off switch that will do the job for you. It is a progression that requires patience and some experimenting. Depending on the grind size and brewing method, you should play around and see what works best for your taste buds.
#1 – Stick to Arabica beans. Compared to the Robusta kind, Arabica coffee is less acidic and more gentle to your digestive system.
#2 – Check the Altitude. The beans growing in higher altitudes tend to be more acidic, as does the Java that’s grown in volcanic soil (think Kona coffee). Strive to purchase coffee from low-altitude places.
#3 – Try different regions. Do your due diligence and see which regions produce more acidic coffee (one example is Kenya). Brazil and Sumatra, on the other hand, are considered to be low-acidic-coffee cradles.
#4 – Stick to Dark Roasts.
#5 – Add a pinch of salt to your brew to bring out the natural sweetness.
#6 – Find a low-acid type. Some coffee brands sell low-acid coffee that is produced in a special way that lowers their acidity profile.
#7 – Make sure not to under-extract your coffee.
#8 – Try cold brews.
#9 – Add some milk to your cup to balance out the coffee’s acidity.
#10 – Add some eggshells. Wait, what!? No, you’ve read it correctly. Eggshells are alkaline and can bring balance to your cup. Just wash them thoroughly, crush them coarsely, and add along with your coffee grounds to your brewer. Brew as usual (strain if you need to, but coarse pieces shouldn’t pass through the brewer), and enjoy a less acidic cup of joe.
Remember acidity from your chemistry classes? To neutralize it, you need to add a base – something alkaline. Milk can balance out your cup a bit, but it won’t be ideal. Eggshells work fine, but if you are looking for something to add directly to your brewed cup, then perhaps these examples can help:
Baking Soda – Just a sprinkle of this versatile ingredient can bring your coffee closer to the neutral level of the pH scale.
Almond Milk – Almonds are alkaline, so enriching your brew with almond milk may create a more balanced beverage.
Cinnamon – This magical spice will not only neutralize your coffee, but it will also drag tons of flavor and aroma to your cup. Cinnamon is one of the most alkaline spices, so sprinkle away!
Butter – Looking to fatten up your diet and bring balance to your tummy at the same time? Perhaps a dollop of unsalted butter can help. Add to your morning cuppa for a more alkaline coffee.
The temperature of the water used for brewing is another essential factor for making a killer cup of coffee. The hotter the water is, the more acidic the brew will be. That is why cold-brewed joe has less than half the acids that hot coffee contains.
The ideal brewing temperature is just under the point of boiling, so opt not to go over 200 degrees F, for a balanced brew.
While the chemical side of coffee-making may not be the most exciting topic, knowing what you can do to take the edge off your sour morning brew can make a huge difference.
Not only for your coffee-craving taste buds, but to your sensitive tummy as well.