Coffee For Heartburn: 29 Facts To Make Things Clear

This is one of the most discussed topics, and it’s also very important, because of the massive consumption of coffee in the world.

We must make things as clear as possible because only correct information can allow people to maintain protective attitudes to health.

The relationship between coffee and acid reflux is quite simple, as we’re going to see in the coming paragraphs.

However, as always, personal experience is the key.

This means that even if coffee determines some effects in general terms, some people may experience that more than others.

We can write general recommendations, however, each person is different.

That’s why is so essential to know how the body responds to the introduction of foods and substances that can cause reflux and heartburn.

Ther’s another thing to consider.

Coffee is a pretty generic term: there are so many types of coffee available on the market.

This is the reason why some people also think about this beverage as a kind of “solution”, so they basically drink coffee for heartburn.

That’s something that may seem particularly strange, however, there are some parameters of coffee that play a pivotal role in determining symptoms of reflux.

We need to better define what does matters to this end, in order for the people to take more informed decisions.

Coffee For Heartburn

Coffee For Heartburn: Let’s Make Things Clearer

There are some myths to debunk.

The first important assumption is that coffee is not a “poison” or a “totally to avoid” beverage, not even for people who suffer from reflux and present heartburn as a symptom.

This is important because everything depends on a variety of factors we’re going to discuss in the following paragraphs.

For now, let’s point out that there is a suggested dose for heartburn/reflux sufferers.

We quote it directly from the WebMD official website.

If you have heartburn, you can likely consume a 3- or 4-ounce cup of coffee each morning with no problem. But if you guzzle coffee all day long, then, yes, heartburn is a consequence.
Very important to notice that the above-indicated dosage refers to people who already suffer from heartburn. This recommendation already allows us to understand how the relationship between coffee and acid reflux is more complex than it seems. But there’s more. Checking the official website of Health Canada, we read that the threshold for daily caffeine consumption is 400 mg, meaning a bit more than 4 cups, approximately. This applies to people who are not experiencing heartburn symptoms yet. So, if you know well your health condition, and you keep the daily intake of coffee under the recommended limits, this beverage will not harm you. Even if, looking at its specific properties, it can lead to some problems.

Does Coffee Cause Heartburn?

Unfortunately, it can do it.

When we talk about common causes or triggers for acid reflux, there’s a rule to remember.

Acid reflux is not caused by a single product, or food, or habit, because the condition is the result of several factors that involve the lifestyle, as well as eating habits of the person. When protective agents lose their battle against aggression factors, the reflux begins to show its symptoms.

This is generally valid, however, coffee is one of the products that can trigger heartburn alone, without any other underlying supporting factor.

This does not mean that coffee has to be blamed for many cases of acid reflux and GERD. We’ll see later that things are not like so.

For the moment, the “takeaway” to remember is that coffee can determine the sporadic occurrence of heartburn because of its properties.

This is definitely not good for:

Acid Reflux Sufferers
People who already suffer from heartburn and acid reflux are much more sensitive to the “heartburn-promoting” action of this beverage. These people should not drink coffee. Alternatively, they should follow some precise guidelines, and limit their choice to some types of coffee that are not acidic.
Individuals At Risk
People who are not suffering from heartburn and reflux right now, but they are at risk because of some wrong eating or lifestyle habits. In these cases, coffee can trigger heartburn and can also work on promoting the root cause of reflux.

It’s essential that people perfectly know their specific conditions to avoid mistakes.

And now, we can start considering some factors that promote heartburn when drinking coffee.

The first thing to consider is the acidic content of coffee.

Does coffee have acid?

Yes, coffee is naturally acidic.

To be more precise, the organic acids contained in coffee beans are the key to everything.

In fact, this organic acid is responsible for the typical taste of this beverage, kind of “tangy”, a bit sour feeling, that’s so appreciated by coffee lovers.

These acids, coupled with caffeine, contribute to the addiction that’s typical of avid consumers.

The presence of natural acids, however, is also a good thing.

In fact, they also contain some powerful antioxidants that have a very beneficial effect on health.

This is important because coffee must not be seen as a risk factor only, but rather as a natural product with many features to better investigate and understand.

Moreover, not all types of coffee have the same features, meaning that in some cases coffee for heartburn can be totally fine.

The acidic content of coffee, however, is not enough.

We have to deepen more about some additional aspects that make coffee able to trigger heartburn.

Why coffee causes heartburn?

We’ve considered above the importance of acids.

We must add two additional things to know.

Direct Action on LES
Coffee has the property to act on the lower esophageal sphincter and relaxing it. This is a very important factor for determining reflux, that’s why people who suffer from reflux must avoid the beverage.
Tannins Downside
Antioxidants in coffee (tannins) present a significant downside. In fact, they can be highly acidic and can lead easily to heartburn episodes (one of the reasons why even healthy people can experience heartburn after a cup of coffee).
More Acid Production
Coffee can increase the production of acid in the stomach. This event sums its effects with those analyzed above, so increasing the chance to determine a stronger and more persistent heartburn episode.

The above-listed facts can vary widely from person to person.

You should consider them as a general rule, but reality can be significantly different.

Whatever the case, the action of coffee is always to be considered in synergy with other factors, in cases of ascertained acid reflux disease.

There’s a study, published in 2013, by the University of Tokyo, Japan, that presents data about the relationship between coffee intake and GERD, as well as other typical digestive disorders.

We report the final data below.

As you can see, findings suggest that there is no significant relationship between coffee consumption and the four major acid-related upper gastrointestinal disorders.

In the years following this study, science has tried to give better answers to this question.

Coffee And Acid Reflux

When it comes to the relationship between coffee and acid reflux, things are not as obvious as it seems.

Given that coffee can be a factor for heartburn, and that can trigger the symptom alone, things are different when considering acid reflux, meaning the condition as a whole.

Since 1999 it was acknowledged that coffee has may not have such a relevant effect on reflux in GERD patients.

According to the same study, coffee had no effect at all in healthy subjects.

Given these premises, there’s the need to learn more and, above all else, learn what has been ascertained in recent years.

We want to report one of the most relevant and updated studies on the matter.

It has been published in 2019, September, by the Department of Internal Medicine, Taipei Tzu Chi Hospital, New Taipei, Taiwan.

The study represents the synthesis of many other studies and has been carried out to make the maximum clarity possible on this topic.

According to findings, drinking coffee (or tea) and adding milk or sugar was not associated with reflux symptoms or erosive esophagitis.

This is good news, because of several reasons.

The most important is that coffee is not directly responsible for the occurrence of acid reflux.

Heartburn is another thing, in fact, it’s a symptom, and it may happen sporadically, even in people who don’t suffer from reflux.

Is coffee bad for acid reflux?

A person who suffers from reflux should not drink acidic coffee, as a general rule.

Based on what we’ve considered before, coffee does not cause acid reflux as it is, however, in the presence of reflux and/or other factors that promote reflux, it helps such factors in determining symptoms.

It really depends on the person, on its lifestyle, eating habits and current health status.

The same study we reported before, also outlines that there are two other factors that are more to blame for causing reflux.

They are:

  • Metabolic factors, and
  • Hiatus hernia

In this context, the intake of coffee can seriously worsen the situation, with a much more likely occurrence of symptoms.

To summarize, coffee is bad for people who suffer from reflux, but it’s not a cause of the disease, while it can add its effects to those of other concomitant factors.

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER!

And receive for FREE our special guide on reasons, symptoms and remedies for heartburn!

Does Caffeine Cause Heartburn?

Looking at caffeine is always right when dealing with heartburn and/or reflux.

Even though we considered above that, in recent years, coffee is no longer to blame for causing reflux, it still is a threat for people who suffer from reflux.

The same is true for people who are at risk, because of wrong eating habits and lifestyle.

The most important thing is to know how much caffeine is in coffee.

Or, better, how much caffeine is in the specific type of coffee you plan to drink.

Not all types are the same, and this has important consequences on the effects that the coffee will have on your organism.

We want to report here a table published by the Mayo Clinic, that presents some caffeine levels you can find in different coffee types.

Obviously decaffeinated coffee has the lowest level of caffeine (not zero).

We’ll talk more about that later, for the moment let’s say that the caffeine content can also vary by roast type.

Darker roast has generally lower caffeine amounts than others. The exact opposite of light roasts also called “breakfast coffee”.

However, there’s the possibility to find darker roasts more acidic, and that’s why some people report a worsening of the situation, despite the lower content of caffeine.

In conclusion, a good compromise for all may be cold brew coffee.

In fact, it has a lower amount of caffeine and can be less acidic.

The final choice is personal, because of the variety of effects and also the different perception of the acidity of the various types of coffee.

Caffeine and GERD

Once again, we must point out the different roles that coffee has in determining disease (reflux) and symptoms, like heartburn.

GERD is a more advanced stage of acid reflux, and it occurs when symptoms are more frequent and persistent over time.

That’s why many people wonder if coffee intake, besides heartburn, can lead to GERD.

People who are dealing with stress can reach the GERD level more quickly, just because of their combined action.

As observed for acid reflux, we report another important study.

According to the findings, there is no significant association between coffee intake and GERD.

This means, once more, that coffee can make a pre-existing picture worse, it can cause sporadic heartburn in healthy subjects, but it should not be considered as a cause of reflux disease.

In addition, if you consume coffee together with other known foods generally to avoid such as chocolate, things can worsen fast.

Moreover, you must pay the highest attention when mixing coffee with dairy products, because they add risk of experiencing more symptoms.

This is the final assumption to keep as the pillar of everything.

Does decaf coffee have acid?

Decaffeinated coffee has a lower acid content.

However, this does not mean “zero” acid, because a small amount still can be found.

Strictly speaking for reflux sufferers, decaf coffee seems very good.

There is some uncertainty about the general benefits that decaf coffee can bring to the organism.

In fact, according to what has been published in Brazilian Archives of Biology and Technology, decaffeinated coffee has lower antioxidants levels.

Both of them (regular and decaf) seem to protect from the risk of type 2 diabetes.

To summarize, decaf has some acid, and probably bring lower benefits for the health, if we consider a healthy individual.

If you’re dealing with heartburn and reflux, however, decaffeinated coffee is an option to consider.

Moreover, the absence of caffeine could also help your mood, especially if you’re an anxious person, another relevant factor for triggering reflux.

Decaf coffee for acid reflux

Decaffeinated coffee has been proven effective in reducing the amount of reflux induced by the intake of regular coffee.

This means that despite coffee can’t be considered as a real “cause” of acid reflux, the strong reduction of caffeine brings measurable benefits.

In particular, we’re referring to a specific decaffeination method, called the “Mountain water method” (see below the picture from Thanksgiving Coffee).

We report the exact definition from the Main Coast Roast Blog below.

This is an “indirect” decaffeination method, Beans are soaked in near-boiling water, extracting the flavor oils and caffeine from the coffee. The water is separated into a tank where it is forced through charcoal filters and generally stirred around in hot water to remove the caffeine.

In this case, it’s the water that makes things better.

Decaffeination can also happen with chemicals, however, this process is not safe like the Mountain water method.

To be more complete, we report another interesting finding.

Whatever the caffeine content, it has been noted that caffeine does not seem to be directly responsible for acid reflux.

There are other components of coffee that have more power to this end.

Nexium And Coffee

Esomeprazole magnesium (Nexium) is widely used as a treatment for acid reflux.

It belongs to the category of PPIs (Proton Pump Inhibitors) and many people are concerned about the possible interactions it may have with some foods and beverages, including coffee.

Nexium should be taken at least one hour before a meal.

Being a PPI, it works by reducing the production of acid, and this lowers the symptoms of reflux when it happens.

This is exactly the point: acidity is not the root cause of reflux, meaning that Nexium makes your stomach content less acidic, but it does nothing on the reflux mechanism itself.

Regarding the possible relationships with coffee, they basically are antagonists.

In fact, coffee leads to increased production of acid, while Nexium does the opposite.

That’s why it would be best not to take them in a close time, just because they act against each other.

If you want to do something really good for your health, don’t’ rely on Nexium, and think about solid changes in your eating habits, as well as lifestyle, to improve your health much faster than you can imagine (read the last paragraph for more info).

Coffee heartburn relief

To solve issues related to coffee consumption, there are two possibilities.

The first on os to rely on the suggestions you’re going to find under the “What To Do Next” paragraph.

There you will find some of the most complete strategies to fix your eating habits as a whole, along with the proper lifestyles you should keep to overcome heartburn and reflux.

If you’re looking for specific and coffee-related solutions, there are at least two things to consider.

Shade-Grown Coffee
Drinking this type of coffee could help a lot. This is not so very well known, although it deserves great attention. Shade-grown coffee originates from plants that are grown under trees (see the above image from the Coffee Habitat website). This coffee is of better quality and has higher production costs, however, Shade-grown beans have lower acidity, and are much less likely to cause problems with coffee heartburn.
100% Arabica Coffee
This type can be considered as a good alternative to shade-grown coffee. In fact, it differs from the more famous type (called “Robusta”), because of its cultivation areas, which are placed higher. The most diffused type of coffee, on the contrary, grows at lower altitudes and it’s hardy, in order for it to better resist pests. That’s why 100% Arabica is better for people with heartburn: it’s more “delicate” and has about half the caffeine contained in the Robusta variety.

So, you can remember what follows:

  • The first thing you can do is not to go beyond the suggested threshold for caffeine, approx. 400 mg per day (a bit more than 4 cups)
  • The second thing to do is to drink Shade-grown coffee
  • The third thing to do is to alternate it with 100% Arabica coffee

In addition to that, here some other tips:

Dark Roast Is Better
As we’ve seen before, dark roast is better, because it’s known that it’s related to a decrease in acid production. That said, still many people find it acidic, that’s why personal experience is essential.
Prefer Cold Brewing
This type of preparation leads to a coffee with lower levels of all the compounds commonly found in this beverage.
Add Milk
This is not suitable for all the people, and you also must pay attention to the specific effect milk has to your organism.
Mexico and Sumatra
These two types of coffee have significantly lower acidity, that’s why they can be suggested as specific types of coffee for people who live with heartburn. The same is valid for people who are at risk of reflux.

There are some additional things you could do, however, we discuss this on a different occasion.

Conclusions

Coffee for heartburn is one of the most important topics because, depending on the information you can find, things with reflux can go better or worse.

It really depends on a variety of factors, that’s why personal experience is essential to evaluate how things work for YOU.

We recommend not to base your decisions of consuming coffee on what you hear from other people, because your specific condition may be different.

Whatever the case, there are at least 29 reliable facts to remember.

We list them below.

Takeaways
#1) Coffee is not a “poison” or a “totally to avoid” beverage, not even for people who suffer from reflux and present heartburn as a symptom.

#2) If you have heartburn, you can likely consume a 3- or 4-ounce cup of coffee each morning with no problem.

#3) The threshold for daily caffeine consumption is 400 mg, meaning a bit more than 4 cups, approximately (for people who have not heartburn).

#4) Coffee is one of the products that can trigger heartburn alone, without any other underlying supporting factor.

#5) Coffee can determine the sporadic occurrence of heartburn because of its properties.

#6) Coffee is naturally acidic.

#7) Coffee natural acids also contain some powerful antioxidants that have a very beneficial effect on health.

#8) Coffee has the property to act on the lower esophageal sphincter and relaxing it.

#9) Antioxidants in coffee (tannins) can be highly acidic and can lead easily to heartburn episodes.

#10) Coffee can increase the production of acid in the stomach.

#11) However, there is no significant relationship between coffee consumption and the four major acid-related upper gastrointestinal disorders.

#12) A big study demonstrated that drinking coffee (or tea) and adding milk or sugar is not associated with reflux symptoms or erosive esophagitis.

#13) A person who suffers from reflux should not drink acidic coffee, as a general rule.

#14) This really depends on the person, on its lifestyle, eating habits and current health status.

#15) More than coffee, there are two other factors that are more to blame for causing reflux: metabolic factors and hiatus hernia.

#16) Looking at caffeine is always right when dealing with heartburn and/or reflux.

#17) The most important thing is to know how much caffeine is in coffee.

#18) Darker roast has generally lower caffeine amounts than others; the exact opposite of light roasts also called “breakfast coffee”.

#19) There’s the possibility to find darker roasts more acidic, and that’s why some people report a worsening of the situation.

#20) A good compromise for all may be cold brew coffee.

#21) There is no significant association between coffee intake and GERD.

#22) Decaffeinated coffee has been proven effective in reducing the amount of reflux induced by the intake of regular coffee.

#23) Regular coffee and decaf seem to protect from the risk of type 2 diabetes.

#24) Whatever the caffeine content, it has been noted that caffeine does not seem to be directly responsible for acid reflux.

#25) Coffee leads to increased production of acid, while Nexium does the opposite; that’s why it would be best not to take them in a close time, just because they act against each other.

#26) Shade-grown coffee has lower acidity and is much less likely to cause problems with coffee heartburn.

#27) 100% Arabica is better for people with heartburn: it’s more “delicate” and has about half the caffeine contained in the Robusta variety.

#28) Mexico and Sumatra types of coffee have significantly lower acidity, that’s why they can be suggested as well.

#29) Adding milk to coffee can be a good option, however, this is not suitable for all the people.

As you can see, there still are several misconceptions about the true relationship between coffee, heartburn, and reflux.

The most important takeaway is that coffee must not be considered as a direct cause of reflux, but rather a promoting factor when present with other predisposing conditions.

What To Do Next

Now, it’s time to take action.

All that we’ve seen about low-acid coffee types is important, however, we suggest to have a more comprehensive approach.

You should not consider coffee alone but within the right changes to your diet and lifestyle.

That’s why we strongly recommend checking the following resources.

The Proven Holistic 5-Step System


One of the best strategies. Its strength point is the holistic approach, which means that you're going to care about all aspects that may affect your organism, in 5 steps. Also known as "Heartburn No More".

The Three Everyday Ingredients


This strategy works on underestimated aspects, such as food combinations that are much more important than avoiding certain types of foods. Also known as "The Acid Reflux Strategy".

The Double Protocol For Reflux


It targets two conditions at the same time: acid reflux and infection by H. pylori. Quick warning: this book is not suitable for all reflux sufferers. Also known as "Rapid Reflux Relief".

The Reflux Remedy Kit


This is a book + kit that presents some little known and creative natural remedies for heartburn and acid reflux. A good integration. Also known as "Heartburn & Acid Reflux Remedy Report".

You’ll find so many ideas, recipes, solutions, and home-remedies that you will really be able to change your quality of life, making it completely normal.

This has to be your goal, on top of all.

Thank you so much for your patience and interest.

Stay tuned for more on heartburn and reflux!

2 Comments

  1. verthilertva
    • Dr.Gray

Leave a Reply