Can Coffee Cause Heartburn? If so, How to Prevent it? Here’s What to Know!
Coffee has plenty of great health benefits, including antioxidants, minerals, magnesium, and the energy boost from caffeine. However, some people find that coffee can trigger their heartburn. So why does this happen and what can be done to prevent it? We will go over everything you need to know in this helpful guide!
What is Heartburn and How Does Coffee Come into Play?
Heartburn is often described as a burning sensation in your chest near the breastbone. The pain of heartburn can be triggered by eating, drinking, or even just lying down in the wrong position. Citrusy foods, tomatoes, acidic drinks, caffeinated beverages, fried sweets, and other consumables can bring on the discomfort of heartburn for some people.
Can Coffee Cause Heartburn?
Unfortunately, for some people, the acidity and/or caffeine in a cup of hot coffee can trigger or worsen the symptoms of heartburn. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to mitigate these effects and still enjoy your favorite hot (or ice cold brew) coffee.
Popular Ways to Drink Coffee if You Have Heartburn
(Or, How I Drink Coffee Every Day Without Getting Heartburn)
I never used to suffer from acid reflux. However, after having my gallbladder removed, I found that my stomach was more sensitive than ever. So, as someone who enjoys my coffee immensely and also suffers from heartburn, I can totally empathize with those who are trying to enjoy their Java without the whole burning chest and acid reflux sensation.
Finding a tasty low-acid coffee designed to be gentle on your stomach really is a super smart move for those prone to GERD. One of my absolute favorite coffees for avoiding heartburn is this mind-your-tummy blend.
Top ways to enjoy coffee without heartburn include choosing a lower-acidity Arabica coffee, enjoying cold brew coffee (particularly if it’s a low-acid cold brew), drinking decaf, staying hydrated by drinking water before coffee, and having something light in your stomach before you have that first cup of Joe.
However, I also find that drinking coffee with a little bit of food in my stomach helps to reduce the likelihood of getting heartburn. Adding fiber to your coffee can be another great way to keep heartburn at bay.
12 Real-Life Tips for Avoiding Heartburn from Coffee
With this all being said, what else can be done for those who love coffee and hate heartburn? Here are some great ways that I have found to enjoy my coffee and reduce the likelihood of getting heartburn from it. Many of these tactics (especially numbers 2, 4, 6, 7, and 9) are really helpful, for me at least. In fact, I have been living by them for the last decade or so and can report that I no longer get heartburn when I drink my coffee. Bearing that in mind, here’s a breakdown of a few top coffee heartburn prevention tips.
1. Get a Low-Acid Coffee
I'm not saying that cheap coffee is the cause of your heartburn, but it could definitely be a contributing factor. Some coffees are made with a blend of Arabica and Robusta beans. Robusta coffee beans can be pretty astringent and bitter. If you have been buying large cans of cheap coffee, chances are they have Robusta coffee beans ground into the mix. This could be contributing to your heartburn.
Instead of getting cheap pre-ground Arabica Robusta blends, find 100% Arabica bean coffee. Better yet, choose a 100% Arabica coffee that is ALSO a low-acid alternative that will be gentle on your tummy.
2. Drink Better Coffee
Sometimes, the acidity in coffee can be hard to determine. After all, not every coffee roaster includes the acidity levels of a particular blend on the bag. As a rule, avoid light roasts. Lighter roasts tend to be more intense in terms of acidity. Look for medium and dark roasts, especially ones that point out their lower acidity. I would also recommend avoiding “blonde” roast coffee at all costs.
3. Try Cold Brew
I'm going to give this tip with a caveat. Yes, cold brew coffee can be gentler on your tummy. However, it depends on the type of cold brew you get! Cold brew coffee comes in a range of different strengths and styles. Some of them may actually be a little bit harsher on your tummy. To really make sure that you won't suffer digestive upset, choose a low-acid cold brew coffee, or better yet, make your own.
Making cold brew at home is incredibly easy and basically involves pouring about a cup of coffee grounds into a glass jar and letting everything steep in your fridge for about 20 hours. The next day, voila, you have homemade cold brew coffee that is also low in acidity.
4. Watch What You Eat Before Drinking Your Coffee
For some people, certain foods enjoyed with coffee are the actual cause of heartburn. For instance, fluffy breads and fried bread used to really set me off. This includes garlic breads, pastries, croissants, and especially, doughnuts. Man did doughnuts make me unwell! So tasty, but at what cost?
Fluffy white Wonder Bread was an issue for me too. Everyone responds to food differently! Sometimes when you have certain items for breakfast and chase them down with coffee, the heartburn comes on strong.
My point is, be sure that the coffee is what's actually irritating your system, not what you are eating alongside it. I used to think coffee was the culprit of my reflux, but it turned out to be the doughnut I was having with my coffee. Go figure!
5. Stop Drinking Coffee and Eating Food at Night
Trying to sleep with acid reflux and heartburn can be miserable. To avoid this, make a schedule to help you go to bed without digestive upset being a possibility by finishing your meals at least 3 hours before you plan to lie down.
Sometimes, eating heavy meals and drinking coffee at night can bring on a round of insufferable heartburn. If I'm planning to go to sleep at 11:00 p.m., I will stop eating heavy foods at 7:00 or 8:00 p.m. I usually stop drinking coffee by about 5:00 in the afternoon so that I will be able to sleep at night anyway (since I don't drink decaf regularly). Each person's rhythms and schedules will differ, so apply this to your life in the way that it fits you best.
6. Avoid Drinking Coffee on an Empty Stomach
For some of us, drinking black coffee on an empty stomach just isn't an option. Personally, I can't have a cup of coffee without something in my stomach first, even if it's just a bite of bacon. If I down a cup of Joe without any fuel in the tank, I am guaranteed uncomfortable heartburn, nausea, and sometimes worse. Just having a bite to eat before you start drinking coffee can help reduce the prevalence of heartburn immensely for many people!
7. Try Fiber in Coffee
Sometimes my diet doesn’t leave room for breakfast foods. Many of them upset my stomach as well. The solution? I add fiber to my coffee. A spoonful of soluble fiber stirred into my cup of coffee has proven to be a game changer. I also take insoluble fiber capsules if I have the time. Not only does this prevent blood sugar spikes, but it allows me to add heavy whipping cream and sometimes even vanilla-flavored syrup to my coffee without getting heartburn. I'm not saying this will work for everyone, but it definitely has worked for me!
8. Consider Decaf
For some people, heartburn is triggered by the caffeine in coffee. If you find that all types of caffeinated coffee are inevitably giving you heartburn, you might be one of these people. Caffeine sometimes has the tendency to relax the lower esophageal sphincter. This can make acid reflux more likely. Consider switching to decaf.
9. Stay Well Hydrated
Sometimes, just drinking a glass or two of water before having any coffee can prevent heartburn. Being well-hydrated is good for you in general. Plus, fresh water will help to get your digestive system moving and may prevent or reduce the likelihood of getting heartburn from anything you consume throughout your day.
10. Sit Up Straight
Don't lie down after eating or drinking coffee or anything else if you have heartburn. This one is a given that most people suffering from heartburn already know, but I thought it was worth tossing in here.
11. Try an AeroPress
An Aeropress can be used to remove some of the astringency of coffee and may be worth trying. Personally, I've never owned one, but I've heard good things!
12. Be Healthy in General
Taking care of all of your systems is important. Greek yogurt, kefir, kombucha, probiotics, and other foods with good bacteria can help your digestive system as a whole. Keeping your weight healthy and exercising regularly is also wise. If your doctor has told you to stop drinking coffee, listen to them. However, if you are ready to start introducing coffee back into your diet, you can talk to your doctor about how to do this wisely for your situation.
Don't ignore heartburn as it can become a serious condition if left to persist. However, for some people with heartburn, drinking coffee is still possible and can be done with a few easy lifestyle changes.
It all depends on your unique situation, so you might want to try a few different things until you find the ideal solution for your specific heartburn triggers!
Heartburn from Coffee FAQS
Now that you have some helpful tips in your arsenal, here are a few frequently asked questions about coffee and heartburn.
Does caffeine trigger heartburn?
It can; it all depends on your body’s response to caffeine. For some people, the caffeine in coffee can trigger heartburn. This is because it may relax the esophageal sphincter, a common trigger for bouts of acid reflux. If you find that tea, soda, and other caffeinated beverages cause heartburn to crop up, it might not be the coffee to blame, but the caffeine. If this is the case, consider switching to decaf. (Here are some really DELICIOUS flavored Arabica decaf coffees to check out.
Is the time of day you drink coffee a possible trigger for heartburn?
The time of day you drink coffee doesn't have a lot to do with whether you get acid reflux or heartburn. However, your daily habits do. For example, if you are drinking coffee on an empty stomach first thing in the morning, you might be one of the people that gets heartburn as a result. Or, if you are drinking coffee late at night before laying down, this could lead to heartburn. As a rule, if you suffer from bouts of serious heartburn, avoid laying down for a couple of hours after having coffee or anything else that tends to trigger your acid reflux. Also, don't drink coffee on an empty stomach as this can trigger heartburn and nausea for many people.
What's the difference between heartburn and acid reflux?
There isn't really one. Acid reflux is the backflow of stomach contents through the esophagus. The feeling of acid reflux happening is also known as heartburn, a mild sensation of burning experienced in the middle of the chest. However, acid reflux symptoms may also include nausea, trouble swallowing, a sensation of a lump in your throat, or the regurgitation of food as a sour liquid. Here’s an article on acid reflux, heartburn, and GERD, for more info!
Check Out Some of the Best Low Acid Coffee for Heartburn: Click Here