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Does Decaf Coffee Cause Heartburn


Do you love the taste of coffee but dread the pain of heartburn afterward? You’re not alone. Heartburn is a common symptom experienced by many people, and it’s often caused by consuming or drinking something that triggers acid reflux.

One question that often arises is whether decaf coffee causes heartburn like regular coffee does. In this blog post, we’ll dive into the relationship between decaf coffee and heartburn, examining the effects of caffeine on our bodies, as well as exploring ways to manage your symptoms while still enjoying your cup of joe. So grab a cup of low acid coffee and let’s get started!

Understanding Coffee And Heartburn

Coffee can have a significant impact on heartburn due to its acidic properties and effect on the lower esophageal sphincter, which can be further worsened by caffeine.

Effects Of Caffeine On Heartburn

Caffeine is known to increase stomach acid production and relax the esophageal sphincter, which is a muscle that prevents stomach contents from flowing back into the esophagus. This relaxation of the esophageal sphincter can lead to reflux symptoms like heartburn.

But not everyone reacts to caffeine in the same way. Some individuals may be more sensitive to its effects and experience severe reflux symptoms even with small amounts of caffeine consumption. On the other hand, some people may tolerate coffee well despite having GERD or acid reflux.

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It’s important to note that while decaf coffee has less caffeine than regular coffee, it still contains some amount of this stimulant. Therefore, drinking decaf coffee does not guarantee relief from heartburn or acid reflux for all individuals. Factors such as stomach acid levels and overall digestive health also play a role in determining one’s tolerance for different foods and beverages.

Acidic Properties Of Coffee

Coffee is naturally acidic, with a pH level of around 5.0. This acidity contributes to the development of heartburn and acid reflux symptoms by triggering the production of stomach acid. Regular coffee is particularly problematic because it contains not only caffeine but also other elements that can exacerbate gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) symptoms.

However, decaf coffee has lower levels of acidity compared to regular coffee, which makes it less likely to cause heartburn or GERD symptoms. The decaffeination process removes most of the chemical components in coffee responsible for stimulating digestive acids and reducing its overall acidity.

The Decaffeination Process

Decaf coffee is created by removing caffeine from regular coffee beans. There are two primary methods used in the industry: chemical and non-chemical processes. The chemical method uses solvents like methylene chloride or ethyl acetate to strip the caffeine out of the bean, while the non-chemical method uses water and carbon dioxide to do so.

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Decaffeinated coffee has less caffeine than regular coffee, which makes it an excellent choice for heartburn sufferers who are sensitive to caffeine. However, decaf still contains some amount of acid that could trigger symptoms in individuals with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Therefore, it’s important for anyone struggling with GERD to reduce their overall acidic beverage intake entirely rather than relying solely on decaf coffee as a solution.

The Relationship Between Decaf Coffee And Heartburn

Decaf coffee has been found to be a better option for heartburn sufferers compared to regular coffee, with research studies showing that the decaffeination process reduces the reflux effect of coffee.

Research Studies On Decaf Coffee And Heartburn

One study published by the Digestive Disease Week concluded that decaffeination reduces the reflux effect of coffee, while another study in The Journal of Gastroenterology showed that people who drank decaf coffee had fewer reflux symptoms than those who drank regular coffee.

It’s important to note, however, that drinking decaf coffee is not a guarantee for preventing acid reflux or heartburn. A separate study published in Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics found that some individuals still experienced acid reflux after drinking both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee due to their individual triggers. This highlights the importance of identifying one’s unique trigger foods and drinks to prevent reflux symptoms.

Why Decaf Coffee May Be Better For Heartburn Sufferers

Decaffeinated coffee is less likely to cause heartburn or acid reflux compared to regular coffee due to the reduced acidity levels and caffeine content.

Research studies have shown that drinking decaf coffee can be beneficial for those with gastroesophageal reflux (GERD). Caffeine can increase stomach acid production, which in turn can aggravate GERD symptoms. By removing the caffeine from the equation, decaf coffee may be able to provide heartburn relief and reduce indigestion.

While drinking decaf coffee may not work for everyone, it could certainly be worth trying if you are experiencing frequent heartburn or GERD symptoms. It is important to note that even nonacidic coffees may still trigger reflux symptoms for some individuals due to other components in the beverage.

Exceptions To Decaf Coffee’s Benefits

While decaf coffee is generally considered a better option for individuals who experience heartburn or acid reflux, there are exceptions to this rule. For instance, some people may still experience these symptoms even after switching to decaf due to other factors such as the acidic nature of certain types of coffee beans. Additionally, drinking large quantities of any type of coffee can increase the risk of developing GERD.

It’s also worth noting that while decaf coffee may be less likely to cause heartburn than regular coffee in general, it’s not a guarantee. Some individuals may still have a sensitivity to caffeine or other compounds found in decaffeinated coffee that could trigger their symptoms. Therefore, it’s important for each person to experiment with different types and brands of decaf coffee to find what works best for them.

Ultimately, while there are exceptions to the benefits of drinking decaf coffee, many people have reported significant relief from heartburn and acid reflux by making this simple switch. It’s always important to consult with your doctor if you’re experiencing persistent symptoms or if you need help managing your condition effectively.

Managing Heartburn While Drinking Decaf Coffee

To manage heartburn while drinking decaf coffee, it is important to avoid adding acidic components like citrus or dairy and to wait at least 30 minutes after eating before having any coffee.

Best Practices For Drinking Decaf Coffee With Heartburn

When it comes to drinking decaf coffee with heartburn, there are a few best practices that can help manage symptoms. First, opt for low-acid or nonacidic coffee blends when possible. This can help reduce the likelihood of triggering reflux symptoms. Additionally, consider adding almond milk or other nondairy creamers instead of traditional dairy products that may aggravate heartburn.

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It’s also important to pay attention to portion sizes and consumption timing. Drinking smaller amounts throughout the day rather than all at once can ease digestion and reduce the risk of acid reflux. Finally, avoid drinking liquids during meals as this can add pressure on the esophageal sphincter and trigger gastric irritation leading to heartburn.

By following these best practices while consuming decaf coffee with heartburn, individuals may find some relief from symptoms while still enjoying their favorite beverage without causing discomfort.

Other Foods And Beverages To Avoid

Carbonated drinks and citrus fruits such as oranges are some of the food items that trigger severe reflux for me. It’s essential to avoid acidic beverages, so drinking low acid coffees or other coffee alternatives is one way to manage my digestive discomfort.

In addition to carbonated drinks and citrus fruits, spicy foods like salsa or hot sauces can exacerbate heartburn symptoms. Fried foods and fatty cuts of meat are also more difficult for the stomach to digest, leading to indigestion and increased acid reflux in some people. By avoiding these trigger foods and opting for healthier options like lean proteins and vegetables, I am better able to manage my GERD symptoms.

Lifestyle Changes To Reduce Heartburn Symptoms

When dealing with heartburn and acid reflux symptoms, there are many changes that can be made to your lifestyle in order to reduce their occurrence. Firstly, it is vital to maintain a healthy weight as being overweight can put pressure on the stomach and cause acid reflux symptoms. Secondly, refrain from eating large meals before going to bed as this increases the risk of having acid reflux during nighttime hours. It may also help to eat smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day rather than just a few big ones.

Additionally, it’s important to watch what you eat and drink when experiencing heartburn or acid reflux. Avoid trigger foods such as spicy or fried foods, chocolate, soda drinks as well as acidic juices like orange juice which could aggravate your digestive system causing a flare-up of symptoms including GERD which is commonly associated with acidity issues. Instead try drinking plenty of water throughout the day and opting for low-acidic coffee alternatives like Chicory Coffee which have lower levels of caffeine but are easier on the stomach.

By making these small yet effective lifestyle changes one can manage their heartburn symptoms leading a comfortable life without any discomfort always lurking around them!

Alternatives To Decaf Coffee For Heartburn Sufferers

Heartburn sufferers should consider switching to herbal teas, almond milk lattes, water, decaffeinated tea, or chicory coffee as alternatives to regular or decaf coffee.

Herbal Teas

Herbal teas are excellent alternatives for heartburn sufferers who cannot tolerate coffee or tea. Chamomile and peppermint teas, in particular, have anti-inflammatory properties that aid in healing digestive discomfort caused by acid reflux. Ginger tea is another great option as it can help to soothe the stomach lining and reduce inflammation.

In addition to their medicinal benefits, herbal teas come in a variety of flavors that cater to different palates. While some people prefer sweet-tasting teas made with honey or cinnamon, others enjoy spicier blends infused with cloves or cardamom. Whatever the preference may be, drinking herbal tea can provide relief from digestive issues while still enjoying a hot beverage alternative to coffee or tea.

Almond Milk Latte

I have found that almond milk lattes can be a great alternative to regular coffee for heartburn sufferers. Almond milk is non-acidic, and when combined with decaf espresso or coffee, it creates a low acid beverage option. Plus, almond milk has additional benefits such as being lactose-free and containing less calories than regular milk.

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Another great thing about making an almond milk latte is the ability to customize it to your liking while avoiding trigger ingredients. For example, you can add cinnamon for flavor instead of sugar or syrups that may cause indigestion. It’s important to note, however, that even with these modifications and additions, some individuals may still experience acid reflux or heartburn symptoms depending on their unique triggers and factors related to their digestive health.


Water is a crucial part of managing heartburn symptoms while consuming decaf coffee. Drinking water can help dilute stomach acid, reducing the risk of reflux and indigestion. It is recommended to drink water before and after drinking decaf coffee.

Another benefit of drinking water with decaf coffee is that it can help flush out any excess acid from the stomach, minimizing the chances of experiencing discomfort. Additionally, staying hydrated by consuming enough water throughout the day can help reduce the frequency and severity of heartburn episodes caused by various triggers including acidic beverages like decaf coffee.

Overall, adding more water to your daily routine as a way to manage heartburn symptoms when drinking decaffeinated coffee will significantly contribute to your digestive health. Drinking plenty of clean and fresh water may also be beneficial for overall health, regardless if you have heartburn issues or not.

Decaffeinated Tea

As an alternative to decaf coffee, decaffeinated tea is also an option for those suffering from heartburn or acid reflux. While tea contains less caffeine than coffee, it still may be a trigger for some individuals. Decaffeinated tea has significantly reduced levels of caffeine and may therefore be better tolerated by those with sensitive digestive systems.

Additionally, certain herbal teas such as ginger, chamomile, and licorice root have been shown to have potential benefits in reducing symptoms of heartburn and indigestion. These teas can help soothe the stomach lining and improve digestion overall. As always, it is important to pay attention to your own body’s reactions and adjust your beverage choices accordingly.

Chicory Coffee

Chicory coffee is a great alternative for those who love the taste of coffee but can’t handle the acidity in regular or decaf coffee. It’s made by brewing roasted chicory root, which has a slightly nutty and earthy flavor that mimics coffee’s bitterness. Plus, chicory contains inulin, which has been shown to promote digestive health by feeding good gut bacteria.

Drinking chicory coffee may help alleviate acid reflux symptoms since it’s naturally low in acid. In fact, some people with GERD have reported significant improvement after switching from regular or decaf coffee to chicory coffee. However, it’s important to note that individuals with caffeine sensitivity may still experience discomfort drinking carbon-free beverages like tea and herbal teas for such people are more suitable choice than Chicory Coffee.


In conclusion, the relationship between decaf coffee and heartburn can be complex. While it may be a better option for some individuals who suffer from acid reflux or GERD, it is not a guarantee for everyone.

Caffeine sensitivity and other triggers must also be taken into consideration when managing symptoms. However, there are alternatives like herbal teas or almond milk lattes if decaf coffee proves to be problematic. Ultimately, maintaining good digestive health requires understanding one’s individual triggers and making lifestyle changes accordingly.

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About the author


Samuel is a coffee lover and a writer. He's travelled extensively throughout Southeast Asia and has soaked up the sun, the culture, and of course - the coffee. He loves to write about his experiences, and he hopes to travel even more in the future.

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