Photo: bjdawes, flickr
Many a Tums commercial hangs on the notion that guzzling coffee is as bad for your reflux as downing an entire tub of pickles. But is it really the acid content that makes coffee sour your stomach?
Surprisingly, probably not. In terms of its pH, coffee actually scores lower than beer, soda and sparkling water. According to some charts, coffee falls roughly within the same range as foods we consider relatively belly-friendly, like pumpkin or figs.
So what's the deal with "acidity" and coffee? Keep reading after the jump to find out.
When coffee professionals talk about "acidity," they are referring to a desirable quality in the brew, which is more related to its flavor make-up than its heartburn factor. Acidity in a coffee, often called its "brightness," relates to the brew's fruit-like characteristics, not its pH. It's a way of describing the somewhat dry kind of piquancy or tickle that a coffee will give the sides of your tongue, and is prized by coffee connoisseurs the world over.
If coffee has such moderate pH levels, then, how come it makes so many middles rumble? For one thing, coffee is one of the most complex things we ingest -- it's certainly possible that something in it just doesn't agree with every body. The culprit could even be the very thing so many of us love most about our morning cup: caffeine. Not only can it bring sleepless nights, but it can also wreak havoc on the stomach-sensitive. Might we recommend a side of Alka-Seltzer with that shot of espresso?
Erin Meister trains baristas for North Carolina-based Counter Culture Coffee and sporadically maintains the blog Meet the Press Pot from her home in New York City. This is part of a series for the caffeine-addicted.