What Is Acidity In Coffee And Why Should I Care?

What is Acidity In Coffee?

Gaslight Coffee Roasters on javaya acidity coffee

Acidity is used to describe the dry, bright, sparkling sensation that a high-quality coffee exhibits. This is NOT to be confused with the idea of "acidic" coffee, although the concepts are not mutually exclusive either.

In general...

  • Higher quality coffees will have livelier acidities, although there are some amazing coffees on Javaya with low acidity or no acidity at all
  • The darker the roast, the more that the acidity begins to diminish

How does a coffee get its acidity?

In general, coffees grown at higher altitudes tend to be brighter and more nuanced, with livelier acidities. Coffees grown at lower altitudes, not as much. Since high-altitude coffees tend to have more desirable characteristics overall, you can see why acidity can often be equated with great coffees -- but that's not always true. You can definitely find high-acidity coffees that disappoint the palate, and low-acidity coffees that delight it.

What's this about acidity versus "acidic"?

The scientific term for "acidic" is having a pH level between 0.0 (battery acid) and 7.0 (neutral). For reference, lemon juice is about 2.0 and drinking water is 7.0. Acidic substances, when consumed, can leave you (or your stomach) feeling unpleasant. There are other health drawbacks to consuming acidic substances, like tooth enamel erosion.

In general, you have a good chance of encountering an acidic coffee if you purchase a high-altitude light-roast coffee. This is because the majority of the acidic qualities of the original bean are not roasted off, and the bean has a higher acidity to begin with.

Is acidity bad?

No, not at all. Above all else, we recommend enjoying craft coffee from people who truly respect the craft. It's nearly impossible to go wrong with a reputable roaster who sources high-quality beans. 

If you're concerned about the acidity of lighter coffees, consider that the light roasts have the highest caffeine content. So if you're making the transition into a craft coffee light roast from, say, Starbucks you can get the same buzz from a Tall that you'd normally get from a Venti!

A few other ways we have found to reduce acidity while still enjoying the coffee the way it was "meant to be enjoyed":

  1. Enjoy an espresso-based beverage with dairy milk
  2. Cold brew coffee
  3. Check out our selection of balanced or low acidity coffees on Javaya's coffee marketplace. You'll love them!