Does Coffee Cause Heartburn?

Coffee makes us happy in many ways: It's a ritual for us in the morning and/or afternoon, whether we make it ourselves or get it at a coffee shop. It wakes us up, and people with different tastes can enjoy it black, with cream or sugar, or with extra flavors. But what if that tasty drink starts to make your stomach hurt?

A lot of people with sensitive stomachs get acid reflux after drinking coffee. Does coffee give you heartburn, though? If so, why? Is there a way to avoid getting heartburn that doesn't involve giving up your favorite drink?

That is a great question. This article talks about what heartburn is and why coffee can sometimes make it worse. It also gives you real ways to avoid getting heartburn without giving up your daily coffee fix. 

Heartburn is a painful, burning feeling in the middle of your chest. It’s not really in your heart, though. Acid from your stomach can back up into your esophagus, which is in your chest and close to your heart. Heartburn is a symptom that many people only have sometimes, while for others it's a chronic condition that happens often. If it lasts for a long time, you may have GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).

Heartburn every once in a while is normal and nothing to worry about. Most people can deal with the pain of heartburn on their own by making changes to their lifestyle and taking over-the-counter medicines.

If you have heartburn more often or it gets in the way of your daily life, it could be a sign of a more serious problem that needs medical help.


01. Heartburn Causes

02. Coffee’s Role in Triggering Heartburn

03. Coffee Acidity

04. Understanding Acidity in Coffee

05. Ways To Avoid Heartburn From Coffee

06. Alternative Coffee Options for Sensitive Stomachs

07. Coffee and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

08. Myths and Misconceptions About Coffee and Heartburn

09. Frequently Asked Questions

10. Conclusion

Heartburn Causes

When the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) valve at the bottom of your oesophagus doesn't close properly, you may start to feel heartburn. 

To keep food and stomach acid in your stomach, it should stay shut. Your LES opens up when you eat so that food can go into your stomach. Then it shuts off again. If it doesn't close all the way, or if it opens when it shouldn't, stomach acid can go back up into your oesophagus and hurt you. 

We don't know what makes the LES valve weaken, but it could be because you eat too many big meals, are overweight, or have a hiatal hernia, which is a bulge in your upper stomach that goes through your diaphragm.

Heartburn Risk Factors

Some foods, like those below, can either relax your LES or make your stomach acid rise:

  • Tomatoes
  • Citrus fruits
  • Garlic and onions
  • Chocolate
  • Coffee or caffeinated products
  • Alcohol
  • Peppermint
  • Foods high in fats and oils

Heartburn is also more likely if you:

  • Eat right before bedtime
  • Smoke, vape, or use tobacco products
  • Wear tight-fitting clothing or belts
  • Lie down or bend over after eating
  • Are stressed out
  • Are pregnant
  • Take certain medications, including some antibiotics and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Are constipated

Coffee’s Role in Triggering Heartburn

The pH level of coffee typically falls somewhere between 4.85 and 5.13, making it an acidic beverage by nature. Although the acidity of coffee may aggravate heartburn symptoms, the primary cause is really the acid your stomach produces.

Many people are surprised to learn that coffee can cause acid reflux. The high caffeine content and natural acidity of the beans are the two primary reasons why coffee causes reflux, so it's not surprising that this is a common occurrence. On occasion, you may experience reflux due to both of these factors. On rare occasions, it's just one or the other. The best way to determine the type of coffee that suits your body and the amount that it can tolerate is to experiment.

Cut back on the amount of coffee you drink every day as a first step. One cup in the morning could be all that's needed for this to work. Trying decaf if you find that caffeine is the only thing that's making you sick. It can even affect the way you make coffee at times! For instance, you might wish to try a different brand of coffee beans because some of them are more acidic than others. Getting persistent heartburn under control is always worthwhile, but learning what causes acid reflux can take some time.

On the other hand, some people experience severe acid reflux symptoms when they drink coffee, and they have tried switching to decaf or finding beans with less acidity without success. For these people, cutting back or quitting alcohol is usually the best option. 

Coffee Acidity

The proton donation of acids to tongue receptors is what gives coffee its acidity. Central American and certain East African coffees are known for their exceptionally high acidity standards. But sourness is the polar opposite of acidity and may be a flaw in coffee. Coffees cultivated in mineral-rich volcanic soils at extremely high altitudes have a reputation for being acidic. Coffees that have been washed also have a far higher acidity level than coffees that have been naturally (dry) processed. This is probably because naturally processed coffees have more body than wet processed ones, which masks the acidity. The amount of roasting, the kind of roaster used, and the brewing method all have a significant impact on the acidity level of brewed coffee.

Who gets heartburn?

On occasion, many people experience heartburn. A particularly acidic or rich meal, or increased abdominal pressure (as during pregnancy), can set it off. Chronic acid reflux disease (GERD) is a common condition that can be characterised by frequent episodes of heartburn. In the United States, GERD affects around 20% of the population. Factors that increase the likelihood of developing the disease include being overweight (defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or higher), smoking, or being exposed to secondhand smoke.

What are the symptoms of heartburn?

Heartburn and other forms of chest pain can be difficult to distinguish. Always consult a healthcare professional if you are uncertain about the nature of your pain. Paying attention to any additional symptoms you may be experiencing may also be helpful. You can tell the difference between heartburn, a heart attack, and other oesophageal disorders by looking for these symptoms.

If acid reflux is the cause of your heartburn, you might experience:

  • Burping.
  • A sour taste in the mouth.
  • Nausea.
  • Regurgitation of food.

Other atypical symptoms of acid reflux, include:

  • Stomach bloating and overfullness.
  • Hiccups.
  • Chronic cough.
  • Worsening asthma.
  • Sore throat.
  • Laryngitis.
  • Difficulty swallowing or feeling like there’s a lump in your throat.
  • Chest pain similar to angina (noncardiac chest pain).

Understanding Acidity in Coffee

An essential component of coffee's flavour profile, acidity adds depth and complexity to the beverage's overall flavour. Taste is impacted by a lot of things, including the beans, roasting, grind size, extraction method, and how sharp, bright, or sour it feels on the tongue.

Beans and Roasting

How acidic a cup of coffee is depends heavily on the bean variety and roasting method. The acidity of beans grown in volcanic soils or at greater altitudes is typically higher. In contrast to the milder acidity of Robusta beans, Arabica beans are renowned for their vibrant and tangy flavours.

Acidity levels are influenced by the degree of roasting as well. The acidity of coffee beans is reduced through the Maillard reaction when they are exposed to high heat for an extended period of time in a darker roast, whereas the acidity is preserved more in a lighter roast.

Grind Size and Extraction

Another factor that affects the acidity of coffee is the grind size and the way it is extracted. Because of the greater surface area, solubles, including acids, can be extracted more quickly and to a greater extent with a finer grind. On the other hand, a cup with less acidity and a coarser grind is typically the result.

With pour-over coffee, you can control the acidity and other flavours by adjusting the grind size and the extraction process. Typically, you'll use a medium to medium-coarse grind. For instance, if you want to extract more acidity from your brew, pour it slowly; if you pour it quickly, it might not be as acidic.

Effects of Water Temperature

The acidity and flavour of the finished pour-over coffee are highly dependent on the water's temperature. Here we will delve into the ways in which the acidity can be controlled during the pour over process and how the temperature of the water is directly related to the acid extraction from coffee grounds.

Controlled Temperature in Pour Over

The key to a well-balanced cup of coffee made using the pour-over method is keeping the water at the ideal temperature. Water temperatures between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit (93 and 96 degrees Celsius) are ideal for coffee extraction, according to the National Coffee Association. The ideal temperature range for brewing can be easily monitored and maintained with the help of an electric kettle that has an integrated thermometer or a separate thermometer.

A slow and steady pour is the best way to keep the water temperature in the recommended range when pouring water over coffee. For a more harmonious and pleasurable cup of joe, it's best to pour the coffee carefully so that the flavour compounds extracted from the grounds are evenly distributed.

Water Temperature and Acidity

You can adjust the acidity of your pour-over coffee by adjusting the water temperature. Acids from coffee grounds are typically better extracted from water at higher temperatures than at lower ones. For those who find coffee too acidic or who just prefer a milder brew, this is essential information.

Staying within the lower end of the recommended 195°F - 205°F range, you can experiment with slightly lower water temperatures to reduce acidity in pour over coffee. Be wary of using water at temperatures that are too low; under-extraction can cause your coffee to taste weak or sour. To get the right amount of acidity in your cup, it's important to keep an eye on the water temperature while you brew.

Filters and Their Role

The acidity and flavour extraction of pour-over coffee are highly sensitive to the filter used. Using acidity and oil as examples, we'll compare and contrast paper and metal filters to get a better grasp of the filters' function in pour-over coffee brewing.

Paper Filters vs Metal Filters

A cleaner, less oily cup of coffee is the result of using a paper filter for pour over brewing, which can catch both fine coffee particles and oils. Conversely, metal filters typically feature larger holes, which enable a greater number of coffee particles and oils to pass through. This results in a brew that is fuller-bodied, more texturally complex, and aromatic.

The acidity level of the brewed coffee can be adjusted by choosing the right filter thickness. For darker roasts, use a thicker paper filter (0.28mm) and for medium roasts, use a thinner one (0.15mm). Light to medium roasts can be roasted using abaca filters. The amount of time needed to brew the coffee and its final flavor profile are both affected by the filter used.

Effect on Acidity and Oils

The brewing method and filter used can influence the acidity levels of coffee. A paper filter is an effective tool for lowering coffee's acidity. Paper filters are more effective at capturing oils and coffee grounds than metal ones, so your brew will be less harsh and more flavorful. Paper filter brewing techniques can result in coffee that is less acidic and has a milder flavour.

There are oils in coffee beans that affect how acidic, flavorful, and full-bodied the coffee is. A cleaner, brighter cup of coffee is the result of using paper filters, which remove many oils. Metal filters allow more oils to pass through, giving the beer a fuller, stronger flavor.

Ways To Avoid Heartburn From Coffee

Coffee can cause heartburn, but that's okay. You don't have to stop using it just because you're experiencing symptoms; there are plenty of alternatives to consider.  

1. You Might Like Low-Acid Coffee 

Coffee with a naturally lower acidity level is an excellent first step in reducing acidity, which may be a cause of heartburn. Factors such as growing conditions (e.g., shade-grown coffee is typically less acidic) and bean type influence the acidity of the beans. If you have a sensitive stomach, try to find coffee that is labelled as low-acid. 

Roasting time, in addition to the bean's inherent acidity, determines the final brew's acidity level. If you suffer from acid reflux or a sensitive stomach, dark roast coffee beans are a good option because they are roasted for a longer period of time, resulting in less acid. 

Even better, research has shown that dark roasts have a lower concentration of chlorogenic acids (CGA) and a higher concentration of non-mustard polyphenols (NMP). This combination reduces gastric acid production, which in turn reduces the likelihood of heartburn. Lastly, trying cold brew coffee instead of hot brew could be helpful because it reduces the acidity of coffee by around 70%! 

2. Cut Back on Caffeine

Cutting back on your daily caffeine consumption may help alleviate heartburn symptoms for those who experience them. Even though decaf is a great and easy choice, you might not need to give up caffeine altogether if you're not a fan of decaf. For example, if you're experiencing symptoms related to caffeine, switching to arabica beans (which contain approximately half as much caffeine as robusta beans) may help. 

Alternating the way you brew is another option to consider. For instance, you can make cold brew coffee at home at any time of year; it's easy to do so in the summer, and it contains less caffeine than hot-brewed coffee.  

4. Include a Drizzle of Milk

For many reasons, we prefer our coffee unsweetened. However, if you suffer from acid reflux or GERD, you may find that adding a splash of milk to your brew helps. 

In addition to its acid-neutralizing properties, milk also contains calcium. However, casein and other milk proteins can bind to coffee's CGAs, reducing the acidity that coffee naturally contains and making it less likely to upset your stomach. Consequently, it may alleviate acid reflux.

Milk and cream aren't ideal for everyone, so trust your intuition (figuratively speaking).  

5. Change Up Your Bean Ritual 

Efficiency, rather than effort, is our guiding principle. Furthermore, forgoing coffee? I don't know about that. Especially when you can potentially alleviate your symptoms with just a few strategic adjustments to when and how you drink your coffee. 

For instance, those who suffer from heartburn should probably avoid drinking coffee first thing in the morning because doing so increases the likelihood of acid reflux. Remember to have a snack as well. In addition, it may be helpful to avoid lying down for a few hours after your most recent refill and not napping, as this increases the likelihood that coffee will seep into your esophagus. 

So, it's important to know that food isn't the only thing that can cause heartburn; listen to your body and know your limits.  

6. Identify Other Triggers 

This article has demonstrated that heartburn triggers are extremely individual; things that aggravate one person's condition may have no effect on you whatsoever. In addition to coffee, there are many other things that could cause you pain, such as:

  • Alcohol
  • Spicy food
  • Chocolate
  • Tomatoes
  • Citrus fruits/juices
  • Fatty foods
  • Carbonate beverages 
  • Fried foods
  • Processed snacks
  • Prescription medicines 

You may be able to modify your habits to avoid giving up coffee altogether if you identify other causes of heartburn in addition to coffee. Who knows? Maybe if you cut out a few other things, your symptoms will be more manageable. Perhaps you'll realize that coffee was actually never your major problem.

Alternative Coffee Options for Sensitive Stomachs

Green and Matcha Tea

Brewing tea leaves produces green tea, which is derived from the Camellia sinensis plant. Conversely, matcha is nothing more than green tea leaves ground into a fine powder.

If you're looking for a coffee substitute that won't upset your stomach, try green tea or matcha. An array of important advantages are:

  • Fostering a balanced microbiome
  • Limiting the proliferation of germs that cause illness
  • The Importance of a Diverse Gut Microbiome

There is some speculation that a chemical found in green tea called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) has remarkable anti-inflammatory properties. One study found that participants who took an EGCG-based supplement daily over the course of two months improved ulcerative colitis symptoms by 58%.

3. Black Tea

If you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), you may want to try black tea instead of coffee. The good news is that compared to regular coffee, it has just around half the caffeine content.

In order to maintain a healthy gut, plants contain micronutrients called polyphenols, which help good bacteria thrive while inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria like Salmonella.

Because of its antimicrobial and immune-boosting characteristics, black tea helps cleanse the body of harmful substances and restores the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, which in turn supports immune health.

4. Ginger Tea

Ginger ought to be among the gut-healthy coffee alternatives because it is both tasty and beneficial. Ginger is most known for its ability to alleviate nausea, but it also helps with indigestion, gas, and bloating.

An essential phytonutrient in ginger, gingerols help maintain a balanced microbiome in the digestive tract by acting as an anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial. One study even goes so far as to say that ginger might be more effective than certain medications in easing morning sickness during pregnancy.

Concerning acid reflux, though, may be the most important advantage of all. For those who suffer from acid reflux, ginger is a wonderful natural alternative to coffee because it reduces inflammation and the likelihood that stomach acid will reflux into the esophagus.

5. Hot Lemon Water

If you're looking for a flavorful, spicy, and gut-healthy alternative to coffee, this is it. It only takes two ingredients and is incredibly easy to make, but it is packed with antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins, particularly vitamin C.

In addition to promoting a healthy immune system and digestive tract, the digestive benefits of hot lemon water have additional benefits, such as improved skin. Lemon water has additional advantages, one of which is that it acts similarly to the stomach acid. In order to keep your digestive system running smoothly, drinking a glass of water every day stimulates your gut to produce more bile.

6. Kombucha

You won't even notice that you're not drinking coffee anymore after trying this stomach-friendly substitute. It's that good.

The fermented tea drink known as kombucha originated in North-east China. Kombucha is rich with probiotic species, the most common of which are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. These bacteria are known to support a diverse gut microbiome and good bacteria in general.

The fermentation process is the source of its digestive benefits. In the same way that fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi help to strengthen the lining of your digestive tract, kombucha contains live probiotic bacteria.

For those mornings when you're in the mood for something cold to drink, kombucha is a great alternative to iced coffee.

Coffee and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

Many people with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) are advised by their doctors to cut out caffeine-containing foods and drinks from their diet. But there's not a ton of proof that coffee causes cancer.

Avoiding caffeine may help alleviate GERD symptoms if you find that it worsens them.

Some people with GERD have found that coffee and tea, among other beverages, bring on or aggravate their symptoms. Additionally, many medical professionals and health organizations advise patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) to cut back or cut out caffeine altogether.

It is unclear, however, whether all patients with GERD should abstain from coffee and tea based on the available scientific data.

A 2013 study on the effects of coffee on GERD states, “Coffee use is often discouraged in patients with GERD, although little evidence exists linking coffee consumption and GERD incidence.”

While some GERD sufferers find that caffeinated drinks make their symptoms worse, others say they are unaffected.

Myths and Misconceptions About Coffee and Heartburn

Many people have false beliefs about coffee, particularly about its health effects (such as the connection to heartburn) despite the fact that it is a beloved beverage all over the globe. I propose that we dispel the following urban legends:

No One Is Exempt from Coffee-Related Heartburn

Truth: Although coffee does have the potential to cause heartburn in certain people, its effects are not universally felt. Individual sensitivity and preexisting gastrointestinal conditions, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), determine the probability of experiencing heartburn following coffee consumption.

The Only Thing Causing Heartburn Is Coffee's Acidity

Truth: The acidity of coffee is just one of the many factors that contribute to its association with heartburn. Caffeine and some oils in coffee can relax the lower esophageal sphincter, which can lead to acid reflux from the stomach into the esophagus and, in turn, heartburn.

If You Want To Avoid Heartburn, Decaf Coffee Is Always The Way To Go.

Truth: While caffeine relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter, other chemicals in decaffeinated coffee can cause heartburn in people who are sensitive to it. The impact is different for each individual.

Heartburn is More Common in Dark Roast Coffee Compared to Light Roast.

Truth: The probability of heartburn being caused by coffee does not always correlate with its roast level. Actually, research suggests that darker roasts might lower stomach acid production compared to lighter roasts, which could mean less heartburn for some individuals.

Coffee With Milk Or Cream In It Can Help Prevent Heartburn.

Truth: While milk and cream can reduce the acidity of coffee, they won't stop heartburn altogether. Some people experience an increase in stomach acid production after consuming dairy products, which may make their heartburn symptoms worse.

If You're Experiencing Heartburn, You Should Totally Cut Out Coffee.

Truth: Avoiding coffee entirely isn't necessary for everyone who gets heartburn. In most cases, it comes down to learning your body's tolerance levels and striking a balance. A tiny cup of coffee, or a particular kind of coffee, may be more tolerable for some people than for others.

No Matter What Kind of Coffee You Drink, It Will Alleviate Heartburn

Truth: The effects of coffee on heartburn can vary depending on the type of coffee, such as cold brew, espresso, or filtered coffee. Many people claim that cold brew is better for their stomachs because it is less acidic.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Coffee Can Trigger Heartburn?

The amount of coffee that can trigger heartburn varies from person to person. Generally, heartburn can be caused by large quantities of coffee, especially on an empty stomach, due to its high acidity and caffeine content. For some individuals, even one cup can cause discomfort, while others may tolerate several cups without issues. It's important to observe your body's reaction and adjust your coffee intake accordingly.

Is Heartburn a Sign of Coffee Intolerance?

Heartburn can be a sign of coffee intolerance, especially if it consistently occurs after drinking coffee. Coffee intolerance is different from an allergy and can manifest as gastrointestinal symptoms like heartburn, stomach discomfort, or acid reflux. If you suspect coffee intolerance, it's advisable to reduce intake or switch to a less acidic alternative to see if symptoms improve.

Can Altering Coffee Brewing Methods Reduce the Risk of Heartburn?

Yes, altering coffee brewing methods can reduce the risk of heartburn. Cold brewing, for instance, typically results in a less acidic beverage compared to hot brewing methods. Additionally, using a coarser grind, reducing brewing time, or opting for a darker roast can also decrease the acidity of the coffee, potentially reducing heartburn risk.

How Does Coffee Compare to Other Caffeinated Drinks in Causing Heartburn?

Coffee is often more likely to cause heartburn compared to other caffeinated drinks due to its high acidity and caffeine content. Beverages like tea, especially non-herbal varieties, tend to be less acidic and may be better tolerated by those prone to heartburn. However, individual responses can vary, and some people might find certain teas or soft drinks just as problematic.

Are There Specific Types of Coffee That Are Less Likely to Cause Heartburn?

Yes, certain types of coffee are less likely to cause heartburn. Low-acid coffee varieties, which are specifically processed to reduce acidity, can be gentler on the stomach. Dark roasts are generally less acidic than light roasts, and decaffeinated coffee might also be a better option for those sensitive to caffeine. Additionally, organic coffees that are free from certain chemicals and pesticides might also be easier to digest for some individuals.


the relationship between coffee and heartburn is a topic of considerable interest and debate. While coffee is a beloved beverage worldwide, its impact on digestive health, particularly in relation to heartburn, cannot be ignored. Studies have shown that coffee can potentially trigger heartburn in some individuals, primarily due to its acidic nature and its ability to relax the lower esophageal sphincter, leading to acid reflux. However, it's important to note that individual responses to coffee can vary greatly. Factors such as the type of coffee, the amount consumed, and personal sensitivity play significant roles in determining whether coffee will cause heartburn. For those who are prone to digestive discomfort, moderating coffee intake or opting for low-acid varieties might be beneficial. Ultimately, understanding your body's response to coffee is key. If you find yourself frequently asking, "Does coffee cause heartburn?" it might be time to evaluate your coffee consumption and consider adjustments for better digestive health.

Back to blog
  • Woman lying on the couch with books on her face and books and coffee on the table.

    Why Does Caffeine Make Me Tired?

    Juju Blends Official

    Have you ever found yourself reaching for a cup of coffee or sipping on a fizzy soda, only to feel...

    Why Does Caffeine Make Me Tired?

    Juju Blends Official

    Have you ever found yourself reaching for a cup of coffee or sipping on a fizzy soda, only to feel...

  • Cup of hot coffee on top of a book

    Coffee Health Benefits

    Juju Blends Official

    Find out how coffee can help your health in many ways, from giving you more energy and brain power to...

    Coffee Health Benefits

    Juju Blends Official

    Find out how coffee can help your health in many ways, from giving you more energy and brain power to...

  • Person holding coffee bean

    Coffee Benefits For Skin

    Juju Blends Official

    When we look into beauty and health, we often find skin-saving products that we didn't expect. One of these miracle...

    Coffee Benefits For Skin

    Juju Blends Official

    When we look into beauty and health, we often find skin-saving products that we didn't expect. One of these miracle...

1 of 3