Most coffee lovers want their coffee strong, rich and flavorful. However, certain adjustments may have to be done if you are suffering from acid reflux, heartburn and other stomach issues. A good alternative for coffee fans is decaffeinated coffee which contains less caffeine, about 7 mg per 8-ounce cup. Most of the caffeine in decaf coffee is removed through methods that involve organic solvents, water or carbon dioxide.
Does decaf coffee have less acid?
No, it does not have less acid compared to regular coffee since they both vary within the same pH range which is around 4.85 to 5.69. However, decaf coffee does not cause heartburn or acid reflux as often compared to regular coffee and it may be a better alternative for people with GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease.
Coffee drinkers experience lower esophageal sphincter pressure because of the coffee. Normally, the lower esophageal sphincter should contract to prevent stomach content from going back to the esophagus. However, because of the diminished pressure due to coffee consumption, people with GERD experience extreme acid reflux. This was due to the consumption of both neutral and acidic coffee.
Based on studies, it appears that coffee’s acidic content is not the main reason why GERD symptoms worsen after drinking coffee. The compounds that aggravate GERD symptoms in regular coffee disappear during the decaffeination process. Also, there is evidence showing that decaf coffee has no adverse effects on lower esophageal sphincter function as opposed to regular coffee.
Facts about decaffeinated coffee
Here are some facts about decaf coffee:
1. Decaf coffee has at least 97% of its caffeine removed.
According to the Food and Drugs Authority or FDA, coffee is considered decaffeinated if 97% of the caffeine is removed. An eight-ounce cup of decaf coffee contains from two to 15 mg of caffeine while a 16-fluid ounce cup contains around 12 to 13.4 mg of caffeine.
2. There are at least three ways to remove caffeine in coffee to come up with decaf coffee.
These methods include the following:
With this method, no chemicals are used to decaffeinate the coffee beans. The common water-processed methods are the Swiss Water Process and the Royal Select Water Process.
With this process, moistened coffee beans are soaked and pressurized in a steam environment. At this point, the beans swell allowing the caffeine to become accessible to extraction and are then placed in contact with chemicals. Once the decaffeination phase is complete, around 99% or more, the beans are taken out, dried and prepared for roasting.
Carbon dioxide process
In this process, green coffee beans are soaked in water and placed in a vessel so it becomes in contact with pressurized liquid carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide removes the caffeine out of the beans. In an evaporator, the caffeine precipitates from the carbon dioxide and is pumped again to the vessel after re-condensation and evaporation.
Once the required residual caffeine level is achieved, the carbon dioxide circulation is stopped. Coffee is discharged into a drier where it will be dried to its original moisture content and then prepared for roasting.
3. Decaf coffee has many health benefits.
These are some of the health benefits of decaf coffee:
- It contains antioxidants.
- It reduces the risk of having diabetes.
- It could reduce motor and cognitive deficiencies.
- It reduces the risk of neurodegenerative diseases.
- It reduces symptoms of heartburn.
- It reduces the risk of certain cancer.
- It allows you to have a better quality of sleep.
- You will experience less anxiety and stress.
Where does coffee acidity come from?
Two main groups of acids contribute to the acidity of coffee. These are the following:
- Chlorogenic acids – These acids are antioxidants. A large concentration of these acids is found in green beans but the levels diminish as soon as the beans are roasted. The benefits of these acids include reduced blood pressure, weight loss, improved mood and lesser risks of developing diabetes and cancer.
- Quinic acids – These acids develop once the beans are being roasted. They are responsible for the flavors in coffee such as mellow or bright acidity.
Recommended decaf coffee
These are our recommended decaf coffee brands:
- Kicking Horse Coffee, Decaf, Swiss Water Process, Dark Roast
- Koffee Kult – Colombian Decaf Coffee
- Volcanica House Decaf Coffee
You can still enjoy coffee despite having GERD or acid reflux by drinking decaf coffee instead of the regular one. Decaf coffee is not less acidic compared to regular coffee since their pH levels are around the same range, between 4.85 to 5.69. However, decaf coffee is ideal for people with sensitive stomachs because most of the compounds that aggravate the symptoms disappear during the decaffeination process.
Image: istockphoto.com / AnnaPustynnikova