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Cold brew coffee is known for being less acidic than hot coffee. So, if your coffee turns out more tart than expected, it could leave you wondering why your cold brew is acidic.
There’s no single reason that always causes cold brew coffee to be acidic. Instead, there are several things that could make this happen.
Let’s go through them one by one and see why your cold brew coffee may be acidic.
1) Your Coffee Roast Is Too Light
Raw coffee beans contain a fair amount of acid. However, during the roasting process, these acids are broken down by the heat.
And the longer the roasting process continues, the more acids are destroyed.
This results in lighter roasts having more acids and darker roasts having fewer acids.
If your cold brew is too acidic, consider switching to a slightly darker roast to see if that improves your coffee.
2) Coffee Beans Grown At High Altitudes Are More Acidic
Coffee beans at higher altitudes grow slower and develop more complex flavors. But they don’t just have more complex flavors. They also have more acids than beans grown at lower altitudes.
This is why Arabica beans (which grow higher up) have more acids than Robusta beans (which grow at lower elevations).
Another thing to consider is that different coffee plantations are located at different altitudes; even if they’re in the same country.
It may take some work, but if your coffee is too acidic, see if you can find beans from a lower-altitude plantation.
3) Coffee From Certain Regions Are More Acidic
The origin of your coffee has a lot to do with its flavor profile. For example, coffees from Africa are generally more fruity and acidic. While coffees from South America are chocolaty and nutty.
This is partly due to the altitudes (African coffee typically grows higher up than South American coffee), but it’s also due to other factors.
The country’s soil, climate, and even farming practices all have an effect on the flavors found in the bean.
So if you’re a fan of African coffees, that may be why your cold brew is too acidic. Consider trying beans from another region.
4) Your Coffee May Be Underextracted
Acidic coffee could be a result of high acid content in the beans. Or it could actually be sourness due to under-extraction.
During the extraction process, solubles are pulled out of the coffee and into the water. But these solubles aren’t all extracted at the same time.
The acids are actually extracted before anything else. So, if you don’t brew your coffee long enough, you’ll get a lot of the acids but not much of the oils or sugars. This can result in acidic or sour coffee.
To prevent this, make sure you give your cold brew enough time to extract all the flavors (usually between 12 and 24 hours).
Recommended Coffees For Cold Brew
|Bizzy Organic |
Smooth And Sweet
|Tiny Footprint Coffee||Medium Roast||Rich, sweet with fruity notes|
|Stone Street Cold Brew Coffee||Dark Roast||Low Acid with bold flavor|
5) You May Be Sensitive To Coffee Acids
If you find your coffee too acidic, it might not be a problem with the coffee. It could be that you’re dealing with acid reflux or some other sensitivity to acidic foods.
Personally, I avoided drinking coffee for some time because they were all way too acidic. It wasn’t until a few months later that I discovered I had acid reflux.
If this sounds like your issue, I’d recommend switching to a low-acid coffee brand.
My personal favorite is Mommee Coffee. This brand has 100 times less chlorogenic acid than other popular brands and it’s one of the few coffees I can drink without any issues. (Mommee Coffee is available on Amazon.)
(Check out our post “Best Low Acid Coffee” for other low-acid coffee brands.)
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Our Experience Making Cold Brew Coffee
We love cold brew coffee and wanted to figure out how to make it less acidic, so we tested a few different beans and methods to see what worked best.
For this experiment, we used light, medium, and dark roast beans:
- New England Donut Roast (light roast),
- Magnum Exotics Jamaican Blue Mountain Blend (medium roast) and
- Starbucks Italian Roast (dark roast)
We then brewed each roast twice (once on the counter and once in the fridge) for around 18 hours each time.
Here are our results:
Light Roast Results
- The light roast was the most acidic and we were able to perceive the bean’s natural flavors more than with the darker roasts.
- There was a higher caffeine content which prevented us from drinking too much of the light roast.
Medium Roast Results
- The medium roast was less acidic than the light roast but more acidic than the dark roast.
- It was smoother and had a lighter mouthfeel than hot brewed coffee. This is because fewer oils are extracted from the bean while cold brewing.
- Medium roast cold brew was also noticeably less acidic when brewed in the fridge than when brewed on the counter.
Dark Roast Results
- Dark roast cold brew had the least amount of perceivable acid.
- A lot of coffee was extracted from the dark roast and there was a lot of sediment. However, it didn’t have a heavy mouthfeel because fewer oils were extracted. The fewer oils also resulted in fewer acids than hot brewed coffee.
- The dark roast tasted smokey/burnt and had little of the bean’s natural flavors.
How To Reduce Acidity In Your Cold Brew
The acidity of your coffee has a lot to do with the beans you use.
But let’s say you’ve already bought your coffee or made your cold brew. Is there anything you can do to make it less acidic without having to buy new coffee beans?
Yes, there is!
Let’s take a quick look at your options.
Making Your Cold Brew Less Acidic Before It’s Brewed
To make your cold brew less acidic, we recommend brewing it in the fridge instead of on the counter.
There was a study in Nature that found cold brew coffee extracts less acid than hot brewed coffee. If this is true, it seemed reasonable that coffee brewed in the fridge would extract even less acid than coffee brewed at room temperatures.
And this is what we found when we tested it for ourselves.
Another option for making your cold brew less acidic is to use fewer grinds than the recipe calls for.
We don’t necessarily recommend this, but it is an option.
It will make your coffee a lot weaker overall, so the acid will be weaker but the oils and sugars will also be reduced as well.
Making Your Cold Brew Less Acidic After It’s Brewed
If you’ve already got a batch of cold brew that’s too acidic, there are a few things you can do to improve it.
Add A Pinch Of Baking Soda
For starters, try adding a pinch of baking soda. Baking soda is alkaline and will neutralize some of the acids in your coffee. I’ve personally tried this and noted the reduced acidity.
Just be careful not to add too much baking soda or it’ll affect the taste and texture of your coffee.
Add Milk or Ice
Another option is to add milk to your cold brew coffee instead of drinking it black.
Milk is slightly acidic (because it contains lactic acid), but it’s much less acidic than coffee. So, by adding milk, you’re reducing the acidity of your drink.
Alternatively, you could add ice or water to dilute your cold brew. Since water is neutral, it’ll reduce the acidity of your coffee more than milk.
Why Is My Cold Brew Acidic? Key Takeaways
- Dark roast coffee is less acidic than light roast
- High altitude coffee has more acid than low altitude coffee
- Coffees grown in Africa are more acidic than South and Central American coffees
- Under extracted coffees are sour and may taste overly acidic
- Consider switching to low-acid coffees like Mommee Coffee if you believe you have acid reflux
Cheers Coffee Lovers!
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Idalmis is co-owner of Coffee Break Lovers. She is a Cuban coffee enthusiast that is passionate about coffee and coffee culture.