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How to make a truly low acid cup of coffee

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  • How to make a truly low acid cup of coffee

    (By Jill Osborne, MA )

    Coffee drinkers rejoice! For IC patients whose bladders are irritated by regular coffees, some new low acid coffees have recently been released that you may find more bladder friendly. Of course, 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 more. However, patients whose bladders are in better shape made find low acid coffees to be tolerable if used in modest quantities.

    How are low acid coffees made?

    Low acid coffee can be produced from specific beans, processing methods and brewing method. Some coffee beans grown in various parts of the world, such as Brazil or Guatemala, are naturally lower in acid. The altitude coffee is grown at can make a profound difference as wel, 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. Even brewing methods can help make a more bladder friendly cup of coffee. Cold-water brewing (i.e. the Toddy Coffee Maker) extracts less acid from the coffee than do hot-water brewing methods.

    Which low coffee coffees taste the best?

    In January 2012, Coffee Reviews released the results of a recent low acid coffee review. More than 30 coffees were tested for flavor and acidity. "We looked for coffees that combined attractive sensory properties with low acidity confirmed by an instrument reading of pH... the good news is that they genuinely did display low acidity.. the bad news is that most did not taste very good." offered Kenneth Davids, author of the paper and one of the reviewers.

    He blamed the poorer taste of low acid coffees on the fact that the processing of low acid coffees tends to reduce natural flavors but that some brands also appeared to be using taste-tained green beans, i.e. green beans that had not ripened fully on the vine. Last year, a shortage of high quality arabica beans led some exporters to release poorer quality beans to unsuspecting coffee makers in the USA.

    Several low acid coffees, however, did perform exceptionally well on taste tests. A new brand that we had not heard of, Simpatico Coffees, received rave reviews not only for its low acidity but also very good flavor. Simpatico Espresso had a 5.7pH and a flavor score of 87. Puroast, a low acid coffee that we've distributed for years, also performed very well. The Puroast Guatemalan Dark Roast had a pH of 5.9 with a flavor score of 84. On the other hand, Tyler's Acid Free coffee had a 5.7pH but the flavor fell far short at just 68.

    Of course, there are many brands of low-acid coffees on the market. Euromild, a popular low acid favorite from Canada, was not part of this American coffee study yet has been very popular with IC patients for many years now. Similarly, several of these companies have many different and types of coffee to appeal to the many tastes. Tyler's is quite popular among some IC patients though others find the flavor too harsh and astringent. Luckily, there are now several other coffees worth trying!
    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 Simpatico, Puroast or Euromild coffee. (Available for sale at:

    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.(Available for sale at:

    3. Try using the OTC supplement, Prelief, which also reduces acid 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 or Cafix. (

    Buy Simpatico Low Acid Coffee at:
    Would you like to talk with someone about your IC struggles? The ICN now offers personal coaching sessions that include myself, Julie Beyer RD on the diet and Dr. Heather Howard on Sexuality.

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    Please remember that the information on the ICN is provided with the understanding that ICN, its founder, staff, volunteers, and participants are not engaged in rendering medical or professional medical services. We cannot and do not give medical advice. Only your personal physician can do this for you.