How to Find Coffee That Won't Bother Your Stomach

Low-acid coffee is said to be easier on the stomach. But the acidity of the coffee is probably not the problem. Learn what to look for in a stomach-friendly brew.

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS
4-minute read
Episode #361

3 Tips for Stomach Friendly Coffee

Roasting also decreases chlorogenic acid, one of the compounds that stimulate gastric acid.  

1. Choose a dark roast. This may be somewhat counter-intuitive, because light roast coffees are often labeled "mild." But this refers to the flavor profile and not the effects on the stomach. Roasting the beans produces NMP and the longer the coffee is roasted, the more stomach-protective NMP it contains. Roasting also decreases chlorogenic acid, one of the compounds that stimulate gastric acid.  

2. Try cold brew: Cold brew coffee is made by soaking grounds in cold water for 12 to 24 hours before filtering it. Cold brew has a higher pH (it's less acidic) than traditionally brewed coffee, so it’s very smooth and mellow tasting. But that’s probably not the biggest factor in its stomach friendliness. When you brew using cold water, you end up extracting less of the chlorogenic acid and caffeine from the beans, so there's less stimulation of gastric acid.

3. Add milk. Many people believe that adding milk to coffee reduces its acidity, making it more stomach friendly. The thing is that the pH of milk is only slightly higher than the pH of coffee. And it's probably not the pH of the beverage that's the problem, anyway. However, when you add milk to your coffee, the milk proteins bind to the chlorogenic acid, making it less bioavailable. This could blunt the stimulation of gastric acid secretion. 

Of course, there’s always a trade off. Chlorogenic acid is the active compound in green coffee extract, which is promoted as a weight loss aid. However, seeing as the effectiveness of green coffee extract is somewhat questionable,  I don’t think that’s a big trade off.

What's the Best Coffee for Sensitive Stomachs? 

Taking all of this into consideration, it would appear that the most stomach-friendly coffee drink might be a latte. Espresso is made from a very dark bean, enhancing its NMP content and the milk proteins bind to the chlorogenic acid. Alternatively, you might try cold brew coffee made with the darkest roast you find palatable. You might also want to give Trücup or another "low acid" coffee a try. Many people report (anecdotally of course) that these types of coffee are easier on their sensitive stomachs. It could be that the processes used to reduce the acidity of the coffee also affect the chemical composition of the coffee in ways that make it more stomach-friendly.  

What kind of coffee have you found to be easier on your stomach? Let me know on the Nutrition Diva Facebook page.


About the Author

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS

Monica Reinagel is a board-certified licensed nutritionist, author, and the creator of one of iTunes' most highly ranked health and fitness podcasts. Her advice is regularly featured on the TODAY show, Dr. Oz, NPR, and in the nation's leading newspapers, magazines, and websites. Do you have a nutrition question? Call the Nutrition Diva listener line at 443-961-6206. Your question could be featured on the show.