Questions about Low Acid Coffee

May 20, 2013

Here are some helpful excerpts from a post about low acid coffee from Jill Osbourne, MA, the founder of the IC Network and author of several IC books. I added tips like where these items might be found in West Michigan.
– Not every IC patient can and should drink even low acid coffees. If you have, for example, Hunner’s ulcers, severe petechial hemorrhaging in your bladder or are currently in a major flare, you should only be drinking water, milk, chamomile tea and/or peppermint tea until your bladder has the opportunity to heal.
-Patients whose bladders are in better shape may find low acid coffees to be tolerable if used in modest quantities. Our favorite grocery store brand is Folger’s Simply Smooth regular or decaffeinated found at Meijer or Family Fare Stores.
-Specialty coffees available in Grand Rapids from Schuil Coffee on 29th St or Herman’s Boy in Rockford offer ground coffees from areas of the world where the acidity of the coffee beans is naturally lower like Brazil, Guatemala, Sumatra and Zimbabwe. We have found Zimbabwe Blend, Sumatran Mandeling and Celebas Kohlasi to name a few. Some have even been available at Meijer Stores as is a low acid Columbian.
-A more recently available brand, Simpatico is roasted in Holland, MI. They are expanding and opening a facility in downtown Grand Rapids and are set to be vendors at the new Downtown Market in July. And for those of you pining for a low acid espresso, Simpatico offers one which has won rave reviews for it’s low acidity (5.7pH) and excellent flavor with a score of 87/100 when tested by Coffee Reviews.
-Puroast, a low acid coffee distributed on the IC Network direct sales website, also performed very well. The Puroast Guatemalan Dark Roast had a pH of 5.9 and a flavor score of 84. Tyler’s Acid Free coffee, also available on the IC Network website, had a lower acidity at 5.7, but the flavor fell far short at 68. Another lower acid coffee, Euromild, was not reviewed, but is popular as well. Many of these companies have a variety of choices to appeal to many tastes.
-Even brewing methods help make a more bladder friendly cup of coffee. A cold-water brewing method using a Coffee Toddy, available at Schuil’s and Herman’s Boy, extracts less acid from the coffee grounds than do hot-water brewing methods.
-How are low acid coffees made? Low acid coffee can be produced from specific beans, processing methods and brewing method. The altitude coffee is grown at can make a profound difference as well, the lower the growing elevation the less acidity produced. Harvesting methods can also reduce acidity, particularly if they dry the whole fruit naturally. The processing of coffee beans can also reduce acidity. Some companies use a proprietary, very slow roasting method which reduces acidity while others first steam coffee beans to reduce their waxy outer layer. Dark roasting, as opposed to medium roasting, can also dramatically reduce acidity.
-A note about caffeine: anyone who drinks caffeinated beverages know that it makes them urinate more frequently. Why? Caffeine is a diuretic, stimulating urination by increasing blood pressure within the capillaries in our kidneys which then increases blood filtration resulting in an increase in urine. But, caffeine also decreases the ability of our kidneys to filter water, thus causing urine to become more concentrated with urea and ammonia. These chemicals may explain why caffeinated beverages are so irritating to our already inflamed bladders. Throw in the acids found in coffee, and you’ve got yourself a caffeinated cup of potential misery. If you are considering trying a low acid coffee, we suggest starting out with a decaffeinated version to minimize this potential effect.
-How to make a low acid IC friendly coffee? 1. Start with naturally low acid beans, roasted to a darker roast! We suggest trying a DECAF before trying regular coffee. 2. Use a cold brew coffee maker. The Toddy Cold Brew Coffee Maker ($37.99) uses regular coffee but reduces the overall acidity by 67% when compared to hot brewing systems by using a unique, patented cold brew system. 3. Taking the OTC supplement, Prelief, beforehand may reduce/neutralize acidity levels. 4. Start with a small amount to determine if your bladder tolerates it well! 5. Don’t go to excess. One cup of coffee a day is plenty for our more sensitive bladders and if you start having bladder discomfort again, stop immediately to avoid irritating your bladder further. A low acid herbal coffee might be a reasonable alternative, such as Pero, Kaffree Roma, Roastaroma or Cafix found at many grocery stores or health food stores.

Adapted from the website by Elizabeth Braun, MS,RD GRWH Dietitian

2 Responses to “Questions about Low Acid Coffee”

  1. Natalia Traver Says:

    A pH of 5.9 would indicate a coffee that is less acidic than a coffee with a pH of 5.7. The lower the pH, the higher the acidity. A high pH indicates alkalinity. Neutral pH is 7.

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