A Minimalist Guide to Low Acid Coffee
There are over a 1,000 chemical compounds in coffee, making it one of the world’s most complex drinks. The acids in coffee range from chlorogenic to citric to even lactic and malic acids. It’s not always straightforward as to which coffee will be low acid and have a higher pH.
Generally speaking, lower acid coffees will share similar characteristics in geography, varietal, processing, and roasting. While it might not always be the case for every single coffee, Brazilian and Indonesian coffees will typically be less acidic, especially when the coffee farmers use a semi-washed, sometimes referred to as ‘wet-hulling’, process because it leaves the mucilage on the coffee as it dries in the sun.
When it comes to the roasting process, darker roasted coffees will tend to have less acidity due to the pyrolysis process that occurs going into the 2nd crack of coffee roasting, which breaks down chlorogenic acids within the coffee beans, while recompositioning the body of the coffee to have a lower acidic quality.
The most common themes you’ll find in your lower acid coffees will be Sumatran or Brazilian coffees, or a blend thereof, roasted to around 435°F or above that will have a pH when brewed at around 5.2 or higher. While there might be plenty of exceptions out there, like a city plus roast of Colombian Peaberry at 5.2pH, it’s more often than naught that a dark roasted Indonesian coffee, like a Sulawesi Reserve or Sumatra Reserve, will produce a lower acidic coffee consistently.
Then of course there is the brewing method that can determine the acidity of your coffee. Oftentimes a tell-tale sign of coffee tasting more acidic is under-extracted coffee, which can occur if the grind of the coffee is too coarse and the brew time is too short. A key characteristic to under-extracted, acidic coffee brewing will be notes of sourness, think more fermented grass rather than a smooth whiskey. This is one of the more easier fixes, since all it requires is adjusting the grind of your coffee, while making sure not to brew too quickly.
There are also several hacks to making almost any coffee low acid, from simply adding a small pinch of salt, or adding in a few egg shells to your grounds while they brew, or mixing in your milk of choice. All of which can transform an acidic coffee into a low acid cuppa that your stomach will thank you for. It’s just a matter of preference, so happy brewing!