The Truth About The Term Coffee Acidity


First, let’s go with the obvious. What people think coffee acidity actually refers to…PH level. Coffee acidity does NOT refer to the PH level of the coffee, but understanding coffee’s PH level may help you understand coffee acidity a bit better.

The PH level tells us if a liquid is more acidic or base. On the scale, a PH level of 0 is the most acidic, while the highest (14) is the most basic (alkaline). The neutral PH level is 7.

The average PH level of coffee is 5.

To give you an idea of what this means:

  • Battery Acid has a PH level of 0
  • Lemon Juice and Vinegar have a PH level of 2
  • Coke and Pepsi both have a PH level that falls in the 2.5 range
  • Orange Juice has a PH level of 3
  • Beer has an average PH level of 4

So, coffee is not the most acidic of the liquids we take in on an average day. Even the water we drink can vary from being acidic to alkaline.

Short Description of What Coffee Acidity Really Refers To

Naturally occurring acids in the coffee bean combine with sugars and increase the coffee’s overall sweetness while adding a certain vigor to the coffee. These acids are essential to making a good tasting cup of coffee.

Coffee acidity is used to describe a range of flavors that are perceived in coffee and can be directly attributed to acids found in the coffee beans. When it comes to describing coffee, acidity often refers to a particular taste attribute.

Various words for coffee flavor you may hear that refer to acidity may be:

  • Dry
  • Sharp
  • Vibrant
  • Lively
  • Moderate
  • Dull
  • Citrusy
  • Lemony
  • Berry-like
  • Etc.

Many factors play a part in deciding the type of acidity flavor that ends up in your cup of coffee. This flavor can range from very bold to very mild. Likewise, this same coffee may or may not be gentle on your stomach. Usually the descriptions on the coffee beans will give you an idea of how the coffee will taste.

PH Level in Coffee and Upset Stomach

As illustrated above, we’ve found that it’s not the PH level of coffee that makes some people have an upset stomach from drinking it. So, if the coffee is not acidic enough, what’s upsetting our stomachs?

There are various factors at play here when it comes to coffee.

  • The caffeine is one of a few components in coffee that is believed to contribute to stomach upset.
  • Where the coffee is grown is a factor.
  • Dark roast tends to be better on stomachs.
  • Water source, mineral content of the water, and brewing temperature.
  • Drinking coffee in afternoon increases stomach upset. We don’t know why yet.
  • Drinking coffee without some food. See? That’s why you need biscotti with your coffee.

And I can probably find some more reasons your coffee could upset your stomach. Perhaps a feature topic for another day.

As always, talking to your knowledgeable local coffee roaster will help you find a coffee you can enjoy and improve your coffee experience.


In the next post, I’ll go into what low-acid coffees on the market actually refer to in “How to Shop for a More Gentle Coffee.”


Public articles on Coffee and Biscotti can be used in your own blogs and websites. You just need to add to the end of them the author byline and statement:
Written by Diana Cacy Hawkins at Coffee and Biscotti.  Include a backlink to inside it.


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