What is Acidity in Coffee? And is it good?

Coffee is often marketed as an acidic beverage, but it actually has a pH of about five, making it less acidic than beverages such as beer, orange juice, and even soda. So, when we talk about acid and coffee, we aren’t really referring to the pH level of the beverage. Here’s what we’re on to.

Acidity in coffee

Acidity is a central component of how coffee tastes. When coffee professionals discuss “acidity,” they are referring to the existence of certain acids that affect the taste of coffee. Acidity does not refer to the actual acid content; rather, it refers to a flavour note. 

Coffee with a high acidity level is commonly referred to as “bright.” But overall, the word “acid” can be a little perplexing, but when it comes to food, acidic isn’t really a bad thing.

Acids found in coffee

Coffee contains a wide range of acids. We will focus on the acids that survive the roasting process in this review because these are the acids that affect the final flavour of a coffee. The first ones on the list have a positive impact on coffee, while those further down the list can have both positive and negative effects.

Citric Acid

Citric acid is found in arabica beans grown at higher elevations. This acid, commonly found in citrus fruits, is associated with lemon, lime, and grapefruit notes when mixed with phosphoric acid.

Phosphoric Acid

Phosphoric acid tastes sweeter than most acids. It has the ability to turn a sour citrus taste into a sweeter grapefruit or mango flavour.

Malic Acid

Although it is more common to taste apple or pear in a malic acid-containing coffee, it is often associated with hints of stone fruit, such as peaches or plums.

Chlorogenic Acids

Chlorogenic acids (CGAs) are the primary cause of coffee’s perceived acidity. When compared to other acids, they disappear quickly during roasting and break down into Quinic and other acids. In a medium roast coffee, 50% of the CGAs have been destroyed which is why light roasts are often defined as “bright” and “acidic” rather than dark roasts.

Acetic Acid

Acetic acid, the same acid contained in vinegar, can provide a pleasant sharpness at lower concentrations. Higher acetic acid concentrations, on the other hand, are nasty. A coffee with a high acetic acid content was most likely improperly processed.

Tartaric Acid

Tartaric acid, like acetic acid, has a bitter taste in high concentrations. It can, however, provide grape-like or wine-like notes at low concentrations, which is not surprising considering that it is found in grapes.

Quinic Acid

Quinic acid is formed as a byproduct of the breakdown of other acids. It is abundant in darkly roasted coffee, stale coffee, and coffee that was brewed several hours ago but kept warm on a hot plate. Although it gives coffee a clean finish, quinic acid is the main acid that causes the sour feeling on your stomach.

The Roasting Process and its Effects on Coffee Acids

The concentrations of specific acids change as green beans undergo chemical reactions during the roasting process. Most acids decay at higher temperatures, but some actually increase in temperature. In general, the roasting method attempts to bring out the best combination of naturally occurring acids present in a particular coffee, since these are the compounds that give the coffee its distinct characteristics.

Simply put, coffee, in its purest form, contains a wide range of acids, both good and bad. Some disappear during the roasting process, while others remain, so roasting is all about finding the right combination of acidity, aroma, and body.

Finding a coffee with the right acidity

Now you are aware that all of the flavours in a coffee can be specifically related to the acids found within it. If you can recognize the acids you want, you can look for coffees that have been grown or roasted in a way that produces certain acids and determine the best coffee for you.

Check out our full list of coffees here: https://coffeebeansdelivered.com.au/buy-coffee-online/

We’ve included fun facts on the individual product pages so you can easily find the right coffee with the right acidity that you will enjoy. You might also want to check out our decaf coffee beans if you prefer a coffee with light acidity but tastes just like regular coffee.

Ryadan Jeavons

by Ryadan Jeavons

Ryd is a passionate coffee educator who started his career in 2000 as a barista. Having seen the coffee industry develop over the years and how much there is to learn about coffee still, his personal mission has become a role as the conduit between the industry and the consumer. He is passionate about educating the public on all the wonderful things we are learning about this golden liquid drink.

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