It’s important to know which coffees you purchase have the most and least acidity, especially if you have gastrointestinal issues that can be irritated by highly acidic coffees. Often, coffees grown in and around volcanic soil can have some pretty high acidity. But there are cases in which much of the coffees we sell here at Volcanica are low acid in comparison.
The pH scale for acidity ranges from 0 to 14, with the lower the number, the more acidic the coffee, and the closer to 14 on the pH scale, the more alkaline the coffee will be. Seven is where waterfalls on that scale as the most neutral of liquids. Coffee generally falls in the range of 4.2-6, with anything above 5.2 pH being a low acid coffee.
While we’ve covered which coffees are lower in acidity that we sell in our Minimalist Guide to Low Acid Coffee, today we’d like to discuss some of our more highly acidic coffees and some of the characteristics they share so that you can make a more informed decision in your coffee purchasing exploration.
Sometimes it’s as simple as knowing the pH of the coffee falling under 5.2 on the pH scale. While that certainly helps determine which coffees will be more acidic than others, sometimes it isn’t easy to always find that information. At Volcanica Coffee, we’ve placed the pH reading of all of our coffees in the description below flavor notes, processing, and the type of roast the coffee went through.
But if you want to know a real quick way to gauge if your coffee is highly acidic before purchasing, then you use these helpful tips to help determine whether or not you're clicking on and buying a high-acidic coffee bean.
Here are some of the questions to ask when searching for acidic coffees (either to stay away from or purchase):
- Is the coffee a natural processed coffee? There is a handful of drying processes that coffees can go through. The three main processes are washed, natural, and semi-washed. Many technicalities go into the differences between each method, but for the sake of brevity and pertinent information for this article, natural coffees are dried with the coffee cherry intact. This leads to the coffee bean fermenting longer with the natural sugars of the cherry as the enzymes within break down. Naturals tend to be rarer since the process is more of an art and science that can quickly go wrong if any variables go awry. Either way, because of the fermented flavor and enzymatic breakdown of natural coffees, it’s a good bet that they will be more acidic in the final cup.
- How light or dark is the coffee roasted? As we’ve discussed before on this website, the roasting process of your coffee can change various compounds within the bean that result in higher or lower acidity in the finished product. While it’s not always the case, the best rule of thumb is that the darker your coffee is roasted, anything going from the second crack and beyond, the lower its pH tends to be. At the same time, lighter roasts tend to retain many of the coffee's acidic properties since they weren’t roasted long enough to break down within the bean.
- What region is my coffee from? This is a little trickier, but there are general guidelines you can use when determining whether coffee will be more or less acidic based on the region it grows in. While it’s not always the case, we’ve rarely found that coffees that come out of Indonesia and the Pacific region have all that much acidity. Whereas coffees from East Africa, like Kenya and Ethiopia, and the Caribbean and Central America, such as the Dominican Republic or Costa Rica, or El Salvador, tend to have more acidity in their cup. Granted, it’s a bit harder to gauge whether coffee will be acidic based on its region. Still, when paired with the knowledge of what sort of drying process and its roast profile, it can be a good indicator of whether the coffee will end up being more or less acidic.
- What are some of the flavor notes of the coffee? Again, this isn’t a definitive rule to go by. Still, typically whenever your coffee is being described as having fruity notes, especially fruits that are high in acidity, like berries, grapes, limes, or lemons, then there’s a pretty good chance the coffee will be more acidic than coffees with descriptors more on the cocoa, caramel, or maple-like characteristics.
Some of our favorite acidic coffees that we have here at Volcanica currently on our lineup are our Dominican, Costa Rica Geisha, Ethiopia Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia Sidamo, and our Honduras Natural Honey Processed coffees, to name a few, all of which are on the pH scale of 4.8 or lower, making a fairly acidic cup of coffee.
Acidity in coffee isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, it doesn’t always sit well with every customer's gastrointestinal needs. Still, acidic coffees have unique characteristics with pretty complex flavors that can perk up your morning cup.