Sometimes life is unfair. You love ice cream, but you're lactose intolerant. You pine for peanut butter, but you have a nut allergy. You're crazy about coffee, but it always messes with your stomach.
While a food sensitivity or allergy may limit the stuff you can eat, luckily, you don't need to forego your coffee fix to get stomach relief. Instead, you can swap your usual brew for a low-acid option to curb uncomfortable GI symptoms.
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Here, dietitians discuss what types of low-acid coffee to sip for a pain-free java experience.
Why Does Coffee Cause Stomach Issues?
Two reasons: acids and caffeine.
Certain kinds of coffee contain a high acid content, which can accelerate digestion (read: urgent bowel movements), according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Making matters worse, the caffeine in coffee escalates contractions in your digestive tract and increases stomach acid, which makes it more likely you’ll experience other gastrointestinal issues such as acid reflux and heartburn, per the Cleveland Clinic.
Types of Low-Acid Coffee
1. Dark Roasts
"Dark roasts tend to also be lower in acidity than light or medium roasts, and it seems to be related to the longer roasting time," says Amanda Sauceda, RDN, CLT, a gut health dietitian.
Here's why: This extended roasting process results in fewer compounds that stimulate the release of stomach acid.
Unlike dark roast coffees, it's the shorter brewing process that makes espresso less acidic, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
That's because espresso is unfiltered. So, the less time it brews, the less acid filters into your coffee cup, per the Cleveland Clinic.
Another reason why espresso may be gentler on the stomach is the portion size, Sauceda says. Indeed, a smaller shot of espresso — versus a venti at Starbucks — may temper the effect of acid on your tummy.
3. Cold Brew
The long steeping process is key to cold brew coffee's low acidity. Steeping the beans in cold or room-temperature water for up to 24 hours results in less bitterness and less acid, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
4. Mushroom or Chicory Coffee
For more adventurous coffee drinkers, coffee blends that contain extracts of mushrooms or the chicory plant (part of the dandelion family) also add less acid to your java, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Not to mention these nontraditional coffee roasts come with big health benefits. For instance, antioxidant-rich mushroom coffee can help reduce inflammation and support the immune system, per the Cleveland Clinic.
Plus, it's lower in caffeine, which can be especially advantageous to people with a higher caffeine sensitivity.
Low-Acid Coffee Brands
With these low-acid coffee brands, you can enjoy your java without an upset stomach, heartburn or acid reflux.
1. Purity Coffee Dark Roast Whole Bean Coffee
"Purity Coffee has a dark roast, so it can be less acidic," Sauceda says. "They also roast their special grade beans to maximize the antioxidants."
Bonus: Purity Coffee's dark roast has a robust flavor with notes of dark chocolate and caramelized sugar (yum).
2. Trücup Born to Be Mild Light Roast
"Trücup is a great-tasting, low-acid coffee that brings you beans from Seattle, the coffee capital of the world," says plant-based dietitian Amy Gorin, RDN.
"The brand uses a natural process to remove acids from the coffee," but all the flavor, caffeine and aroma remains in your cup, Gorin adds.
Trücup's Born to be Mild variety has a pH level of 5.74, which is 60 percent less acidic than other leading coffee brands.
3. Puroast Coffee Colombian Dark Roast
The company's proprietary roasting technology reduces acidity in your cuppa by 70 percent.
Made from beans grown in Colombia, Puroast's Columbian Dark Roast delivers all the deep, rich flavors of traditional Colombian coffee minus the tummy-tampering acid.
4. Cafe Don Pedro French Roast Low Acid Coffee
Smooth, bold and aromatic, Cafe Don Pedro's French Roast is made from green coffee beans, which are naturally less acidic. And because it comes in K-cups (which are compatible with Keurig coffee makers), making a quick cup is incredibly convenient.
5. Golden Ratio Original Gold Coffee
"Golden Ratio is not only low-acid (which results in a coffee that sips like tea) but it's also certified FODMAP-friendly by Monash University, making this a safe option for those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)," says registered dietitian Andrew Akhaphong, RD.
"As an individual with IBS myself, it is sometimes difficult to enjoy any caffeinated beverage without running the risk for IBS-like symptoms," Akhaphong says. But you can sip Golden Ratio coffee — which offers flavors like Chai Spice and Chocolate Mint that are normally high in FODMAPs — without worry, he adds.
6. Lifeboost Coffee Embolden Dark Roast
About 28 percent less acidic than common store-bought coffee brands, Lifeboost's non-GMO, USDA-certified organic coffee beans are hand-picked for a perfect cup of joe every time. Plus, the coffee is fairly traded and free of pesticides and harsh chemical fertilizers.
And their dark roast only contains premium beans of a harvest for a truly spectacular flavor.
7. Califia Farms Concentrated Cold Brew Coffee
"Easier to digest and less bitter, this is one of my favorite cold brews for a few reasons: it has a uniquely smooth and rich flavor, only contains two ingredients and is budget-friendly," says registered dietitian Melissa Mitri, RD.
This mellow-tasting brew is made with 100 percent Arabica beans that supply subtle notes of apple, caramel and cocoa.
8. Volcanica Low Acid Coffee
Blending coffee beans from Brazil, Sumatra and other Arabica coffees, which are naturally lower in acid, Volcanica Coffee beans are roasted for longer periods of time to guarantee that the acidic components are processed out.
While it's easier on the stomach, this coffee doesn't sacrifice flavor, flaunting hints of chocolate, nuts and tangerine.
9. Mommee Coffee
Made with 100 percent organic Arabica beans, Mommee Coffee uses proprietary roasting methods to reduce chlorogenic acid — which can trigger tummy troubles, acid reflux and heartburn _ up to 100 times.
And because it's decaf (the decaffeination process uses only water rather than chemicals) it's safe for pregnant people who need to limit their daily caffeine intake.