Coffee and Health : Another Suspect: Acid

Caffeine is only one of the villains in the coffee controversy. Another is certain chemicals often lumped together under the term acid. Some people do not like the acid or sour note in coffee and claim it upsets their stomachs. Others say it causes jitters. I suggest that you experiment. Does that sourness in coffee make your tongue or stomach feel uncomfortable? Then you have three alternatives:

  • Try to find a coffee with the acid reduced through a process much like the ethyl acetate solvent decaffeination process. These coffees, treated in Germany, are marketed under the name special mild coffees. They are hard to find, do not offer much choice, and suffer from the same potential for flavor-diminution as decaffeinated beans.
  • Buy a moderately-dark- to dark-roasted coffee. Dark roasting reduces the acid sensation in coffee.
  • Buy a lower-altitude, naturally low-acid coffee brought to a moderately dark roast (full-city, Viennese, light espresso). To me, this is by far the best solution for acid-shy coffee drinkers. Naturally low-acid coffees include Brazils, most India and Pacific (Sumatra, Timor, Hawaii) coffees, and most Caribbean coffees.

It also helps to buy very good coffee, because the best coffee has been processed from ripe coffee fruit, and coffee from ripe fruit is naturally sweet and lacks the sharp, astringent sensation of cheaper coffee processed from less-than-ripe fruit.