Coffee Acidity: Here's the Skinny

It is a question often asked when someone is looking for a new coffee and they need some advice: What’s a good coffee low in acidity? Whether the request is initiated by your doctor’s advice or you just don’t care for the taste, there are a few general rules of thumb. However, as with everything in coffee, there are few absolutes, but we can give you a little direction to help you narrow it down.

For the quickest, most basic way to narrow it down, go with an Indonesian coffee. Sumatra, Celebes Sulawesi, Java, even India produce beautiful, typically earthy (although some more than others) coffees that are naturally low in acidity, no matter the roast or the method of processing.

However, these aren’t the only regions that produce coffee that’s low in acidity. Some coffees from Central/South America also boast a lower acidity, but that’s due to being grown at a lower altitude or “shade grown.” You may have heard the term “high-grown” thrown around a bit. Coffees that are “high grown” are prized for their complexity and dynamic flavor. This complexity develops slowly as the higher altitude slows the coffee maturation, allowing the innate nuances of the region or even the farm develop and shine. A big part of the taste is the acidity. (Think of what a good barbecue sauce would be like without vinegar, for instance.) While their acidity can vary quite a bit amongst themselves, these are not the coffees you’re looking for when you have orders from your doctor to stay away from high-acid coffees.

Fret not! There are plenty of lower grown coffees that are amazing. No one is going around talking about Hawaiian Kona as being unpalatable. While Kona is a fine example, you certainly don’t have to break the bank to enjoy a good cup of low acidity coffee either. Our Fair Trade Organic Bolivia or Organic Nicaragua are both soft and velvety in mouthfeel, and absolutely delicious in the cup. Nicaragua is a bit nuttier, both have a cocoa finish that is divine.

Perhaps a darker roast is what you’re looking for. Some folks are staunchly anti-dark roast, and others are drawn to the depth and smokiness. The darker your coffee is roasted, you taste less of the bean, and more of the roast. This is why you’ll likely never see Ethiopia Yirgacheffe done to a French roast. If you’re drawn to a darker coffee, but don’t want the heavy smoke of a French roast, try one of our Espresso or Vienna roasts. Our Brazil Espresso is enchantingly simple, sweet, and round. (-One of my favorites) Our Costa Rica Vienna is incredibly popular, chocolatey undertones with a hint of smoke and a caramel-like finish. It is a high grown coffee, mind you, so it’s not low in acidity naturally, but the darker roast level perfectly illustrates the effects of darker roast on high grown beans, bringing the acidity down a few notches.

But wait, there’s more! If you just don’t feel like you can give up your Ethiopia Yirgacheffe or Kenya Peaberry, perhaps cold brew is the answer for you. As it happens, it’s the heat from the water interacting with the grounds that brings the coffee’s acidity into play. If you just use cool water or room temperature water, there is no such reaction. As your coffee sits, its flavor develops, allowing all those beautiful, delicate nuances to shine without activating the acidity.

Whether you just don’t like the taste, your stomach turns a little sour, or you have orders from your doctor, you have tons of options to keep the acidity level wrangled and still have a delicious cup of coffee. A great way to tell is to trust your nose and your eyes. Are the beans dark? Oily? It’s a dark roast. Does the coffee smell bright and citrusy? It’s likely to taste that way too. Or, of course, you could always come down to the shop and chat with us about it!