As a long-time lover of coffee, it was hard devastating for me to hear that once I developed acid reflux, that I must stop drinking coffee completely.
It was a like a morning death sentence.
Little did I know, I didn’t have to stop enjoying coffee. There were other things I could try – and they ended up working.
So don’t call it quits just yet.
Here’s how I discovered a way to enjoy coffee and kick the acid reflux.
I Cut Coffee From Acid Reflux Cold Turkey… Then I Cheated
So many people told me I just had to quit, that there was no other way. So I listened and put coffee in the rear-view mirror (with much bitterness).
But I still craved coffee.
It only lasted a month. I gave in, savored a rich mug of coffee, and immediately regretted my decision afterwards.
The acid reflux came back – with a vengeance.
But I knew I loved coffee too much to just quit. There had to be a better way. Surely there was something I could do.
So I started doing some research (read: hours and hours and hours of research). And it started to look like I’d discovered the source of my discomfort: caffeine.
Or so I thought.
Tried Decaf Coffee To Help With The Heartburn… That Didn’t Work
I quickly discovered the lower esophageal sphincter muscle (LES) located just above the stomach that’s designed to keep acids in your stomach. The problem with caffeine is that it causes this muscle to relax and stay a little bit open. This is what causes acid reflux in some coffee lovers. The solution seemed simple: drink decaf coffee. So I brewed up a cup, enjoyed it, and waited. And then it happened. Decaf wouldn’t cut it. There had to be some other cause for the acid reflux other than caffeine. I had to keep looking. I tried different kinds of beans, various milks and creamers… I even experimented with different kinds of water! And eventually, I found the trick that resolved all the upset stomach and reflux issues for me. Actually, there were three.
Trick #1: Well, I Actually Still Drink Decaf Coffee
It may seem stupid. Why should I even bother with coffee being decaf when it didn’t help me before? Well, I prefer to take the option without the caffeine as it should only help with preventing any acid reflux, since many people do report that caffeine specifically is the problem. I’d just rather be safe than sorry.
Trick #2: Cold Brewing Coffee Can Nix The Stomach Aches
Believe it or not, the best option is cold brewing – and really it is the only option for someone with more severe acid reflux like myself. The reason is that cold brewing actually reduces the acid levels of your coffee by 67%. This is a significant difference for someone with acid reflux! It’s fundamentally a different process, using cold water instead of hot water – and that results in some chemical changes, like lower acid. This means you can have any coffee you want from your favorite roasters, or you can buy pre-made cold brew bottles (they still taste delicious!). The point with cold brewing is that you’re free to use whatever beans you want.
Trick #3: Explore Low Acid Coffee Beans
Unfortunately, this method isn’t foolproof. It often mean trying various coffees until you find one that you enjoy and can drink without any adverse reflux effects. Not all “low acid coffees” are made equal, because it’s almost impossible to fully control the acid content of a coffee bean (it comes from a living plant, after all). I’ve personally had good luck with Volcanica Low Acid Decaf Coffee. This coffee is branded as acid free (but honestly I’m not sure how accurate that is). They use a roasting process called ‘Z-Roasting’ – it’s meant to prevent harmful acids that are normally created during the typical roasting process. They also use the Swiss Water Decaffeination method. This is easily the best method for decaffeination because it doesn’t use harmful chemicals which are commonly used for decaffeination techniques.
Bonus Trick: Alkaline Water
My final recommendation is using alkaline water to make your coffee. If you didn’t know, there is a scale for measuring acidity and alkalinity called ‘pH’. The higher the pH number, the more alkaline it is and the lower the number, the more acidic it is.
If you make your coffee with a more alkaline water, it will mean it is less acidic (by a tiny, tiny amount) and therefore slightly less likely to cause you acid reflux. An alkaline water would be anything over a pH of 7, though ideally you would want one that is over a pH of 8. — Best of luck out there with acid reflux. I know it sucks. I also know it’s going to be okay.