You may think of sour, tangy or bitter when you hear the word acidic, (or Haribo tangfastics!)
However, coffee is acidic, it isn’t the first word that comes to mind when you describe the delicate taste of the perfect brew.
On the pH scale, coffee sits at around pH 5, this means it is more on the acidic side of the scale.
Purified water sits at 7 on the pH scale, making is pH neutral. The saliva in your mouth is around 6 on the pH scale.
This is why to many people coffee would be described as ‘bitter’ and the reason that many people choose to put milk in their coffees.
(Milk has a pH level of around 6 which is less acidic than coffee, so when milk is added, coffee tends to taste less bitter.)
Kind of like dark, milk or white chocolate! (The get progressively less bitter or acidic.)
We created the chart below to help you see where other things sit on the pH scale so that all of these numbers make more sense to you:
Whilst to some people, a bitter or acidic coffee sounds like a negative thing, to coffee enthusiasts and aficionados, acidity is a something that sets excellent coffee apart from the rest.
They say that the acidity of coffee relates to the dry, bright or sparkling sensation on the tongue that you get from drinking a high quality coffee.
These sensations are apparently not as noticeable or enjoyable in lesser quality and more mass produced coffee.
(This is a pretty snooty way of looking at coffee, and unless you are planning on taking part in any coffee tasting awards any time soon, then really, don’t worry about it! – We are talking about highly prized coffees which are only grown at high elevation with carefully monitored conditions here!)
Can I get coffee that contains little or no acid?
People are looking for a low acid coffee on a doctors recommendation or because of the dodgy feeling they have in they stomach after drinking so many cups of coffee a day.
Some producers of coffee has tried to combat the acidity in coffee by countering the acid with antacids compounds or by roasting them to death.
These ways aren’t particularly effective and can have quite an impact on the end result flavour of the coffee beans.
The best way to find a low acidic coffee is to find a lower grown coffee that has a naturally low acidity that has been processed with care and roasted to a moderate level. This moderate roasting carefully brings out the flavour and sugar of the beans without burning them.
How do I know the acidity level of a coffee brand?
Producers of coffee do not tend to display the level of acidity in the coffee they sell.
But don’t fear.
The human tongue and body are actually pretty good at perceiving different levels of acidity. By testing out a few brand and seeing how it tastes and how you feel afterwards (if acidity upsets your stomach), you will be able to source a low acidic coffee that suits you.
The bottom line is that whilst coffee is acidic, there are far more acidic foods and drinks that we may consume daily, so having the occasional cup of coffee is not likely to be the dominating factor in the acidic foods in your overall diet.