What is acidity in coffee and is it a good or bad thing? Let's clear things up about acidity in coffee and what affects the amount of it has on your cup of joe.
What is Acidity in Coffee?
When you first think of the word “acidity” or “acid”, the first thing that comes to mind is a sour taste. However, in coffee, acidity doesn’t necessarily refer to “sourness” or acid levels on the pH scale. Rather, it refers to a flavor profile used to describe the flavor and taste of coffee.
So is low acid coffee better for you? Well, not necessarily. This is because acidity in coffee refers to the “brightness” of coffee. It is more of a tartness or tangy aftertaste that can be felt at the front of the mouth or tip of the tongue. It is usually a sharp, but pleasant aftertaste. The acidity in a cup of coffee helps to enhance other qualities of the coffee and without acidity it can taste dull or lifeless. The acidity in coffee can also be an indicator of quality coffee or quality instant coffee. So coffee acidity taste is actually a good thing if it is present in certain amounts!
Types of Acidity in Coffee
There are two main categories of acidity in coffee: Organics and chlorogenics. Organic acids are the good types of acids that you want present in your cup. This is because they provide a fruity type of brightness to your coffee. The different types of organic acids all have their own flavor notes that add to the overall flavor of coffee. These organic acids include malic acid, citric acid, tartaric acid, and acetic acid.
The other category of acids is the chlorogenics. These are the less pleasant acids that you don’t want present. Their presence in coffee leads to the taste of sourness and a sharp acidic taste, as well as bitterness.
What Affects Acidity
So which coffee is least acidic? Well, that’s a more complicated question than you would think. That is because there are various factors that affect the acidity of coffee. These include:
- Origin: the origin of the coffee beans will affect the soil where it was grown, which can affect the amount and type of acids present in the bean.
- Type and variety: the type and variety of the bean is another factor as some beans, such as Arabica, have higher pleasant acidity compared to Robusta.
- How and where they are grown: elevations and temperatures affect the amount of acid in the coffee bean. Coffee grown at higher elevations usually contain more brightness (the acidity in coffee) when brewed.
- Processing: the way the beans are processed, such as how they are dried and washed, can affect the acidity levels as well.
- Roasting: the way the coffee beans are roasted can also impact the taste and acidity of the coffee once it is brewed. There are different types of coffee roasts with different flavor profiles and you can read more about them in our previous blog.
How to Avoid Unpleasant Acidity
Now that we’ve talked about acidity as a flavor profile of coffee, how do you avoid the unpleasant type of acidity taste: sourness? And does coffee get more acidic the longer it sits?
A few factors can create this unwanted sour taste in your coffee and letting coffee sit for too long is definitely one of them! As brewed coffee sits, chemical reactions with the air occur (oxidation), which can create a sharp unpleasant sourness when drank. The best way to avoid this is to make a new batch of coffee rather than drinking old coffee that has been sitting for a few hours. Make just enough coffee for what you want to drink or switch to premium instant coffee, where you brew only single cup at a time.
Another factor that results in unpleasant acidity would be the under extracting your coffee grounds. This is because the acidity flavors in the coffee come out first before the sweetness, bitterness, and rich body. So if you don’t brew your grounds for long enough, you will end up with one sour cup of coffee.
In conclusion, the easiest way to avoid any unpleasant sourness in your cup of coffee is to use quality instant coffee (Waka Coffee in particular:). Not only do you avoid under extracting coffee since all you need to do is to add the instant coffee granules to water, you can make the perfect one cup without any leftovers or having it sit and oxidate!