Is Dark Roast Coffee Less Acidic?

Is Dark Roast Coffee Less Acidic

Coffee drinkers have certain preferences when it comes to roasts and some prefer dark roasts while others may opt for light or medium roasts. Dark roasts in particular are dark brown or even have blackened color. Coffee from dark roasts has a full and robust body with a bold and smoky flavor. However, most people are wondering if it is less acidic than other roasts and if it is ideal for people with acid reflux or sensitive stomachs.

Is dark roast coffee less acidic?

No, dark roast coffee is not less acidic since it has the same pH level just like with medium roast coffee. Nevertheless, the dark roasting process stimulates the extraction of chemicals called N-Methylpyridinium that help inhibit stomach acids which makes dark roast coffee ideal for people with a sensitive stomach. 

Studies show that coffee has a pH level of 4.85 to 5.10 that is less acidic than citrus fruits. The brewing process releases at least nine major acids that contribute to the unique flavor profile of coffee. On the pH range of zero to 14, seven is the neutral level, those below seven indicate acidity and those greater than seven indicate basicity. 

While coffee acids are responsible for the rich flavor and aroma, not everyone reacts positively. These acids may cause stomach discomfort, acid reflux and heartburn while some people suffer damaged tooth enamel making them vulnerable to tooth decay. 

Myths about dark roast

Here are some myths about dark roast coffee:

1. Dark roast coffee has more flavor compared to other roasts. 

This myth is not true since dark roast coffee has less flavor although it has a stronger taste. Dark roast coffee has a burnt flavor towards the end of the process. 

In a typical roasting process, coffee first develops flavors of sweetness and fruit. As the roast progresses, flavors like nuts, spices and citrus start to develop. Eventually, the flavors will decline and the roast develops more body. 

2. All dark roast coffee tastes burnt. 

This is false because while some dark roast brands taste burnt, certain dark roast coffee does not taste like that. There are still subtle flavors left in the coffee beans and a good dark roast coffee has body, sweetness and profound flavors.

3. Dark roast coffee has less caffeine. 

This myth is slightly true since caffeine does not burn in a coffee roast. Some of the caffeine though turns to a gas or sublimates during the roasting process. The difference in coffee bean temperature is around 10 degrees Fahrenheit between a medium roast and dark roast coffee while the difference in roast time is two minutes. The caffeine that sublimates from a coffee roast in two minutes is almost negligible. 

4. Roasted coffee beans should be dark and oily. 

This is untrue since it is not a credible measurement where it concerns roasted coffee beans. Oily coffee beans indicate that they are old or over-roasted. The flavors of coffee are in the oil and roasting off the oil diminishes the flavors. As oil in the exterior of the coffee beans ages, it becomes rancid and the good flavors are ruined. 

Tips for coffee drinkers with sensitive tummies

Here are some tips for coffee fans with sensitive tummies:

1. Opt for Arabica coffee beans instead of Robusta. 

Arabica coffee beans tend to be less acidic compared to Robusta and have a smoother taste. It also accounts for almost 60% of the total global production of coffee beans.

2. Choose the dark roast coffee blend.

Dark roast coffee tends to be less acidic since it regulates the release of gastric acids. The recommended varieties of dark roasts include Kenyan, Costa Rican, Guatemalan, Brazilian and Colombian. 

3. Add milk or cream to your cup of joe. 

Your milk tastes better with milk or cream and the calcium in them neutralizes the gastric acids. This makes your coffee less acidic.

4. Drink cold brew coffee instead of hot brew.

Cold brew coffee tends to be less acidic since cold beverages do not allow the complete extraction of acids. Cold brew is 70% less acidic regardless of the coffee beans used. However, this may not be practical if you are living in a cold country or during the winter months.

5. Use neutralizers like acid reducers or by adding a pinch of salt.

Acid reducers like Coffee Tamer tones down the acids in your cup of joe and help prevent acid reflux. Also, adding a pinch of salt can neutralize the acids in your coffee. Just make sure it is only about one/16th of a teaspoon and should not be more than one/8th of a teaspoon. 


Dark roast coffee is not less acidic since it has the same pH level as that of light or medium roast coffee.  However, it is ideal for people with acid reflux and sensitive tummies since it stimulates the extraction of certain chemicals that help inhibit stomach acids. 

 Image: / Andrey Zhuravlev