It’s a horrible day when a doctor tells you that your coffee consumption is contributing to your acid reflux or GERD. Yup, I’ve been there and it’s devastating. After all, I love coffee so much, I blog about it!
So, I wasn’t about to just give up my coffee. After all, what is life without coffee? Not one I want to live! After all, I walk around in this shirt all the time.
However, acid reflux and GERD are serious – and seriously uncomfortable – so I decided to do a ton of research and figure out what I could do that would allow me the best of both words: lower acid/acid reflux pain and daily coffee.
Luckily, I found a few things that work and I’m excited to share them with you today!
Why Coffee Makes Acid Reflux Worse:
If you’re new to the whole idea, there are a few reasons that coffee makes acid reflux worse. First, caffeinated drinks, like coffee, can increase acidity – more acid = more acid reflux. Plus, caffeine may relax the muscle that connects the esophagus to the stomach relaxes, which means more acid can slosh up into your esophagus, wreaking havoc. No bueno.
This increase in acid can cause a handful of problems:
- Stomachaches from too much acid
- Esophagus swelling/inflammation from acid reflux
- Throat swelling/inflammation from acid reflux
- Over time, this can lead to GERD
- In some cases, too much stomach acid can cause stomach ulcers and other issues
Basically, we want our bodies to be in a balanced state and when something like acid is overproducing and causing problems, everything can start to feel out of whack.
Ideally, we can reduce the acid produced by coffee, so that the acid inferno can chill out and we can have our coffee and drink it, too.
Ways To Reduce Acid in Coffee:
So, how can we do that? I’ve got great news for you. There are a few different ways I have personally been reducing acid in coffee so that I can still enjoy it.
1. Use Lower Acid Coffee:
Some coffee is more acidic than others. Once you start trying out different coffees and brewing methods, you’ll notice it a lot more. I was drinking the same kind of coffee every day for a long time and it wasn’t until I switched and tried other things that I noticed the increased acid when I went back to my old methods.
Now, I have a better idea of what to order when I go to coffee shops, too, which really helps.
For lower acid coffee options, I like a few different options:
- Lifeboost Coffee: Designed to be lower acid, these beans make it easy to brew and drink without producing as much acid. You can learn a lot more about it in this post.
- Jot Coffee: I have shared a lot about this super concentrated coffee, but one huge benefit to drinking it is that it is lower in acid due to how it’s brewed. Then, you mix one tablespoon with 8 ounces of water or milk of choice. Using your own filtered water or milk choice also helps dilute any acid that it is in the concentrate. I’ve seen definite improvement since using this and I can make coffee super fast. Check out the special bundle Jot offers WTF readers here.
- Cold Brew: The way that cold brew is made – by soaking coffee grounds in cold water for 12-24 hours – makes it less acidic. Asking for cold brew or picking up your own cold brew to use at home is going to help. I like Starbucks Cold Brew because it’s tasty and available at my local stores.
2. Try Different Brewing Methods:
Another way to reduce acid in your coffee is to use different brewing techniques.
A. Pour Over: One way we have found to reduce acid is by using the pour over method. It’s super easy once you get the hang of it and is actually a really meditative experience. Plus your house smells amazing, too.
Check out our super easy guide to pour over coffee here. It’ll break down the whole thing with a video and what we use, too. You can use any type of coffee that you like, but we use Lifeboost or we buy from our local coffee roasters. Buying local is great because you have more info on how it’s roasted, as well as less time on the shelf. Fresher coffee is going to be less acidic and have more flavor – plus you support a small business. If you’re in the Sacramento area, we love Temple Coffee and also Philz Coffee beans, both are now available at Target in certain areas, too!
B: Use a concentrate, like Jot, where you mix with water or milk.
C: Make cold brew coffee at home using your favorite coffee and filtered water. We have this cold brew pitcher, super affordable from Amazon, and that’s what we use when we make cold brew at home.
3. Stop Drinking Dairy:
Yeah, I know, nobody wants to hear this one, but let me tell you something that happened to me. True story: last year, my acid reflux was so bad, I was having esophageal spasms and swelling. It would get so bad, I thought I had something stuck in there, like a growth or tumor. I would have to drink smoothies and soups when it got bad, because I felt like food would get stuck in there.
Then, my throat started feeling inflamed, like that feeling when something is too tight around your neck and you compulsively reach up to pull it away – except it was inside and I couldn’t do anything about it.
The feeling is so uncomfortable, I started seeing doctors thinking I had cancer. I ended up getting a full endoscopy, where they put you to sleep and put a tube with a camera on the end down your throat and down into your intestines. They saw signs of acid reflux and nothing else. The doctor told me to stop drinking hot coffee and lower my acidic food intake and that was it.
I couldn’t believe that was all he had to say and there was no other explanation for my discomfort. That’s when I started examining everything I was eating and tried a full elimination diet to figure it out on my own. I ended up discovering that earlier that year, I had started eating a ton of foods with whey protein in an effort to lose weight. Cereals, protein powders, snacks, chips, all using whey protein. Well, whey protein has a concentrated form of casein, which is from dairy, and if you are sensitive to dairy, it’s like super loading your body with it. Read more about how whey protein can cause inflammation here.
I cut all the products overnight and stopped eating them. Slowly, the inflammation in my esophagus went down and away and I haven’t had it since.
I also stopped drinking hot coffee as well (and I try to avoid any hot liquids), which has also helped. Since I am a huge fan of iced coffee anyway, this hasn’t been an issue for me.
So, what is my point here? My point is if you are having digestive issues, inflammation and acid reflux, cut all dairy, including whey protein, and switch to almond milk or oat milk or cashew milk. You might see some significant improvements in a couple of weeks when your body starts to heal. Inflammation can take a long time to heal from, so be patient. Personally, I think oat milk tastes the best with coffee and really brings out the flavors with chai lattes too.
4. Drink More Water:
Is this the cure for everything? I feel like it’s on every list for every problem and every diet plan. But, that’s because our bodies are mostly water and so it’s adding like to like. In this case, water will help dilute what is in your stomach and the acid in your stomach, too, to help re-balance the acidity in your body.
I recently started a challenge of drinking a gallon of water a day. I’m serious. It was much harder than I thought at first and then got easier. I made it about a week and now I’m back to a few tumblers a day, but I’ll tell you what, I think quite a few of the issues I’ve been having lately could be from dehydration.
So, maybe try a water challenge and see what happens!
5. Reduce Your Coffee Intake:
I started playing around with my coffee intake, too, and saw a big difference when I removed my afternoon coffee. I know, I didn’t like it, either, but you know what I did like? Less acid. Less stomach problems.
So, now, I typically order an iced chai latte in the afternoons when I need a perk. The spices are warming, healing, and great for inflammation. It tastes great with oat milk and over ice. Plus, it doesn’t keep me up all night. Score.
That’s it, folks. Cut your dairy, try lower acid coffee and mix up your brewing methods. If you are super attached to how you brew your coffee, just try cutting dairy or trying a low acid bean first. Maybe that’ll be enough for you, depending on how bad your acid reflux is.
If you’re going to try making changes, do them one at a time and give it a few days to see which ones really work for you and which ones don’t. For me, mine is bad enough that I have to do all of these things to keep drinking my coffee.
I hope these tips help you! If you love coffee, don’t give up. You can find a way to make it work!