Do you love coffee, but it doesn’t love you? Sensitivity to certain acids in coffee can lead to acid reflux. But it doesn’t have to spoil your enjoyment of your morning brew, thanks to low acid coffee.
We’ve taken a look at some of the best low acid coffees and found our favorites. In particular, this low acidity coffee from Volcanica is well worth your attention.
Top Picks At A Glance
- Medium Roast
- Brazil & Sumatra
- Notes of chocolate, nuts and Tangerine
- Medium Roast
- Notes of candied lemon, chocolate and caramel
- Dark Roast
- Sumatra, Indonesia
- Rich earthy notes and complex sweetness
- Medium-Dark Roast
- Honduras & Mexico
- Caramel, nutty and round notes
- Medium Roast
- Sweet hazelnut and earthy cocoa notes
Why Is Acidity in Coffee an Issue?
Studies show that it isn’t the acids in coffee that irritate our stomachs. Instead, it is how they interact with our natural stomach acid. 
One of the acids contained in coffee is called chlorogenic acid. While it has many health benefits,  it also stimulates the release of gastric acid in the stomach, which can cause acid reflux.
Interestingly, coffee also contains another compound called N-methylpyridinium (or NMP) in fairly high levels. It can counter the effects of chlorogenic acid by suppressing these spikes in gastric acid. 
Choose Coffees Low in Acidity
What does this mean for those sensitive to acid reflux from coffee? Well, all is not lost! It leaves you with two routes for enjoying your favorite coffees:
You can go for a coffee that is lower in acid all around, therefore having a lower chlorogenic acid content.
Alternatively, you can pick one roasted and brewed so that the NMP content is amplified and the chlorogenic acids are limited.
A Closer Look At Our Favorite Low Acid Coffees
Volcanica Coffee – Low Acid
This coffee has everything we’d look for in low acid beans. The process starts by selecting beans naturally low in acids, in this case, from coffee plants grown at low altitudes in Brazil and Sumatra.
They are then roasted at a lower temperature for a longer time. Here, not so long past second crack to become overwhelmingly bitter and lose the fruity tangerine notes.
Something that we love about Volcanica Coffee is that they give back to the communities they work with. Owned and operated by a Costa Rican family with roots in the coffee industry, they truly believe in paying fairly at all levels of the supply chain. They extend this ethical statement to contributions to water aid charities.
These beans offer smooth flavor notes of chocolate and nuts with an almost peanutty quality, perfect if you happen to be a fan of Reese’s products. You can find all the best aspects of a good single-origin Brazilian here, paired with the famously full body of a Sumatran coffee.
Lifeboost Coffee - Medium Roast
This bean is a rare treat if you can’t always tolerate acidic coffee but crave that citrus tang dancing over the roast tones. It has everything you’d expect from an excellent Central American bean, with not as much of the citric acid as you might find in a Colombian, for example.
Lifeboost coffee is a company that produces exclusively low acid coffee. They were founded by a doctor rather than a native of the coffee industry, but that doesn’t reflect in the quality here. These beans stand up alongside many of their more mainstream competitors without having to lean on their low acid niche.
Certified organic, Lifeboost take quality to the next level and 3rd party test their roasts for pesticides, heavy metals, and other toxins.
Try brewing this one in a V60 with your water temperature set a little lower to bring out the candied lemon and caramel sweetness.
Bones Coffee - Sumatra
Although not specifically marketed as a low acid coffee, this Sumatran has the same intrinsic qualities as many that are.
It is grown at a lower altitude in Sumatra, an island known to produce lower acidity levels in its coffees. The dark roast gives it a high NMP content which will help to mitigate the presence of any chlorogenic acid.
The earthy tones in this coffee are very typical of a good Sumatra. Full-bodied and almost mossy, you’ll feel like you’ve been for a walk in the woods with this one.
These beans make for a great French press, allowing the sweetness to develop with the long immersion time. They are dark and almost molasses-like. Think of black treacle and truffles as a guide here.
Counter Culture - Big Trouble
Counter Culture is one of our favorite roasters. A long-established cornerstone of the California specialty coffee scene, they are big believers in education in the coffee industry and good environmental sustainability practices.
If you see their brand on something, you can guarantee it will be good, and these beans are no exception. Their medium to dark South and Central American blend has a great profile for low acid qualities.
We love this as a cold brew. Let the sweetness shine in this coffee, and keep your infusion time to 12 hours at a maximum. This will prevent too many bitters from extracting and keep it at an incredibly low acid level for you.
Volcanica Coffee - Mexican Coffee
This Mexican coffee from Volcanica is not only intrinsically low in acid but is also treated so that it is guaranteed to avoid heartburn and acid reflux. As with Volcanica’s low acid coffee, the beans are roasted for a long duration at lower temperatures than usual.
These beans are harvested from various smallholder farms in the southern state of Chiapas. Characteristic of the region, you should be able to taste the hazelnut and cocoa notes.
You can’t go wrong with a French press to capitalize on these flavor notes. Keep your brewing temperature at the cooler end, perhaps around 195 °F (90 °C).
Puroast - Colombian Supremo
This is a good example that you don’t necessarily need to start with low acid beans to produce stomach-friendly coffee. This is achieved by roasting closer to the dark end of the spectrum with a specific control on the temperature in the drum at all stages.
These beans from Puroast do not disappoint in flavor. Their smooth, full body makes a great espresso, with its nutty tones carrying well through milk for longer drinks.
Try dialing your grinder just a little finer than usual. It will help you maximize the sweetness and body to help the shot stand out in lattes and cappuccinos.
Mavericks - Dark French
Another coffee from a roaster that specifically targets the low acid market, everything in the Mavericks range will sit well with you. This Dark French, named for the classic French roast profile, is a coffee for the traditionalist.
You won’t find any fruit in this one, but you will get a dark and smoky brew fit for the cowboy on the packet.
This coffee has a very outdoorsy feeling and lends itself well to something like a Clever dripper, an immersion technique where not too many of the oils get through.
It gives you a slightly cleaner cup where you might otherwise run the risk of being overpowered. You want to feel like sitting around a campfire, not lodged in an industrial chimney.
Lucy Jo's Coffee - Sumatra Low Acid
Our second Sumatran single-origin, Lucy Jo’s coffee is full of cherry and chocolate notes. We’d recommend hot-blooming and then cold-brewing this coffee to capitalize on this.
Its origin and roast profile leave enough acid in that you should be able to draw out the fruit without too much risk.
Lucy Jo’s is another roaster that exclusively produces low acid coffee. You may wish to try some of their other single-origins or blends. For us, this one stood out ahead of its cousins for its fruity intensity.
For something with a bit more of a chocolatey whack, you might like their coffee from the neighboring island of Sulawesi. It was a close run for us.
Intelligentsia – Black Cat Espresso Blend
Another one of our favorite roasters here, Intelligentsia, offers a great selection of single origins and blends. The Black Cat blend is a fantastic go-to coffee.
These beans, which we also consider one of the best coffee for espresso, are an excellent choice for so many reasons. They are marketed for use as an espresso, but honestly, they are suitable for any brew method.
A pour-over will give you more of the plum skin aspect of the stone fruits. Meanwhile, a cold brew brings out the smoothness of the chocolatey molasses, with hints at plum jam in the distance.
When brewing this one as a cold brew, you will get the best results from a room temperature immersion rather than in the fridge. Since the roast isn’t too dark, you can leave it a little longer without worrying about bitters masking your more delicate notes.
How To Choose the Best Low Acid Coffee
So how to find your stomach’s new favorite coffee? Follow our tips here to give yourself a wider range to choose from without running the risks of gastric discomfort.
Origin can be one of the biggest factors when determining the types and levels of acids in your coffee. Generally speaking, coffees grown at cooler temperatures tend to ripen slower, which allows for fuller development of complex fruity acids in the coffee cherries.
While this is usually a prized quality in coffee, it’s bad news for sensitive stomachs. If you are looking for a low acid coffee, you should try something from an area less likely to produce acidic beans. Lower altitude and sun-grown coffees will be your friend here.
Some South American countries are known for producing naturally low acidity coffee due to a combination of soil characteristics and low altitude. Good examples are Brazil and Peru. Further north, Guatemala and Mexico produce good low acid coffee. Sumatra in Indonesia could be another good choice.
Conversely, African coffees should usually be avoided unless treated specifically for low acid. The same goes for Colombians, which are notoriously high in citric acid.
As coffee roasts, the acids are broken down, converted, and destroyed. This means that controlling the variables in the roasting process can have a huge impact on overall acidity. It is exactly how the best low acid coffee brands treat their products.
Light-roasted coffees are often roasted for a short time at a high temperature to bring out the most acid. Single-origin Ethiopians are a great example. The inverse of this process would give a coffee with far less acid.
As a rule of thumb, dark roasted beans are a safer option. However, your best bet for a low acid coffee remains coffee roasted explicitly for low acidity at low heat for a longer duration.
Cold vs. Hot Brew
For low acid coffee, there is no contest. Cold brew is king. With up to 70% fewer acids extracted than by hot extraction methods, cold brewing is a surefire way to limit the acidity of your coffee. 
But what to do if you want a hot cup of coffee? One way is to simply heat up your cold brew. Another way is to opt for a coarser grind. With fine grinds, you run the risk that too much of the acids end up extracted in your cup.
There is a common misconception that espresso is less acidic than filter coffee. It comes from the idea that espresso should be made with darker roasted beans, which can be the case. This perceived difference has to do exclusively with the roast profile.
Soy and Almond Milk Help
If you struggle with black coffee, you may be tempted to drink it with milk to lessen the impact. It can be a good option but be wary of what milk you choose.
You can’t go wrong with soy and almond milk as they have an alkaline-producing effect on your body. It will help make your coffee less acidic to your gut environment. 
On the other hand, dairy milk is considered to be an acid-forming food.  This means that it will stimulate more gastric acid production and worsen the effects of your coffee.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is the Difference Between Treated and Inadvertent Coffee?
Coffee can be low in acid thanks to its inherent, natural qualities or the processing it has undergone. In low acid coffee marketing, these are referred to as inadvertent and treated low acid coffees, respectively.
What Water Should You Use to Brew Low Acid Coffee?
Generally, we would always recommend using filtered water as a minimum. However, there is no need to worry about specific mineral contents affecting acidity levels.
Water type certainly can impact perceived acidity in the cup, though. Some minerals act as “acid buffers” and mask the presence of acids.
What Is the Difference Between Perceived Acidity and Actual Acids in the Cup?
The acid we detect in the cup may not always relate to a higher acid content in real terms.
Counter-intuitively, a coffee that tastes bright and acidic is usually less extracted and therefore has fewer acids present than a more bitter cup. This is because the fruitier acids extract first so we can taste them in coffee with a shorter extraction. In coffee with longer extraction, they are usually hidden behind bitters.
What Acids Are There in Coffee?
There are actually over 30 types of acids present in coffee beans. Most notably, chlorogenic acid can contribute to stomach irritation. Other acids are linked to health benefits. Caffeic acid, for example, is a well-established anti-carcinogen. 
Coffee can be a common culprit for acid reflux. But it doesn’t have to be. We had a close look at the best low acid coffees to keep your stomach and taste buds happy. We love the low acidity coffee from Volcanica with its smooth flavor notes.
Specifically selected and roasted for low acidity, these beans from Volcanica are a wonderful example of stomach-friendly coffee. Consider cold brewing it for best results.