Why Does Coffee Make Me Nauseous?

by Peter Taylor | Last Updated: 19 February 2020

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Why Does Coffee Make Me Nauseous?

Coffee can give many people unpleasant problems, including nausea, stomach pains, or general anxiety. But if your morning dose of caffeine causes any of these symptoms, hope is not lost. By switching your roast, brewing method, or coffee habits, you may still be able to enjoy your morning pick-me-up.

So, why does coffee make you nauseous? Coffee makes you nauseous because it’s very acidic. This adds a lot of interesting flavors as you are drinking it, but it can also upset your stomach. One of the best ways to avoid this feeling is to make sure you are not drinking on an empty stomach.

In this article, we will discuss various symptoms that you may feel after drinking coffee, as well as:

  1. Why does coffee make you feel sick?
  2. Is there any way to avoid feeling sick when drinking coffee?
  3. Can too much coffee make you feel nauseous?
  4. Can you be intolerant of coffee?

Why does coffee make you feel sick?

Each cup of coffee has more than thirty different types of acids. These acids are essential because they contribute to the overall taste and complexity of your morning brew. However, they can also introduce some complications in your stomach.

While you are enjoying your freshly made cup of coffee, your body is hard at work dealing with the acidity. The caffeine in coffee triggers the release of gastrin and the secretion of gastric acid. While this is an entirely normal reaction for your body to have, it can be harsh on a sensitive stomach, leading to light-headedness, an upset stomach, and nauseousness.

With about 94 milligrams of caffeine per cup, the caffeine rush can also make you feel unwell. In many people, coffee also causes anxiety, which can lead to headaches, stomach aches, and general unrest.

Another common coffee-related sickness is gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as GERD. If you often experience heartburn, more than once per week, you may be suffering from GERD.

The connection between GERD and caffeine is that this disease is often triggered by caffeine. It causes a weakened lower esophageal sphincter, which can reverse the flow of stomach contents, leading to heartburn.

If you have a mild case of GERD, small changes in your diet or lifestyle can provide relief and allow the body to heal itself. However, for more severe cases, you will most likely need to rely on antacids.

Is there any way to avoid feeling sick when drinking coffee?

While it may be that coffee simply does not sit well with you, there are a few things you can try that may make it a bit easier for your body to digest.

Don’t drink on an empty stomach

First and foremost, do not drink coffee on an empty stomach.

While your groggy morning brain might tell you to go straight for the coffee machine, don’t drink it on an empty stomach. Without food in your system, there is nothing to absorb the caffeine, and you are more likely to feel the adverse effects mentioned above.

Of course, coffee goes great with breakfast foods, so you should always try to have a filling breakfast with your morning cup. However, if you’re not ready for a big morning meal yet, something as small as a pastry or some crackers will keep your stomach strong enough to deal with the acids and caffeine in coffee.

Drink coffee with lower acidity

Another great option is to try drinking a coffee with lower acidity.

While on the pH scale, there is not a big difference between the acidity of a dark roast and a light roast, different chemicals are released throughout the roasting process.

Darker roasts have shown to have more N-Methyl-2-pyrrolidone, also known as NMP. Higher NMP levels in coffee caused less acid secretion in the stomach, making them easier to digest and less harsh on the stomach.

Cold brew coffee is another option, as it’s about sixty-seven percent less acidic than a hot brewed coffee. Many of the acids found in coffee are released in the hot-brewing process. Cold brew coffee is brewed with cold water, so many of these stomach-paining acids are not released.

Drink your coffee black

Drinking your coffee black is another great way to avoid nausea and stomach issues. The extra milk and sugar added triggers the release of even more stomach acids to break down these additional substances.

Lastly, if coffee is making you sick, it could be the caffeine. For some people, extra caffeine in their system makes them feel anxious, jittery, and nauseous. Luckily, decaf coffee has the same intoxicating flavor as a caffeinated coffee- without the negative side effects.

Can too much coffee make you feel nauseous?

Too much coffee can absolutely make you feel nauseous.

Maybe coffee makes you sick, but not just one or two cups. If you find yourself feeling sick after consuming more than a couple of cups of coffee, you could be drinking too much.

Too much coffee causes the release of too much hydrochloric acid in the stomach. There are many side effects tied to too much caffeine, including nauseousness, fever, irritability, stomach pains, and diarrhea.

Why Does Coffee Make Me Nauseous?

The recommended amount of caffeine for a healthy adult per day is maxed out around 400 milligrams, which equals about four cups of coffee.

If you are drinking this amount, or more, and not feeling well, you should try to cut back before altogether nixing coffee from your diet. It is always important to listen to your body and to be in-tune with how each food or drink it affecting you before continuing.

Can you be intolerant of coffee?

Yes, you can be intolerant of coffee.

A coffee allergy is uncommon, but intolerance is quite common. Intolerance of coffee can present itself in many different ways. If you do not have a high metabolism, you are more likely to be intolerant to coffee or caffeine in general.

Aside from feeling sick after drinking coffee, a coffee intolerance can also cause a skin rash, acne, shortness of breath, loss of color from the face and skin, and mouth ulcers.

To determine if you have a coffee intolerance, you can ask your doctor to run a food sensitivity test on you. From here, you can see which types of foods your body is viewing as a threat.

If coffee is one of the culprits, you should attempt to cut it out of your diet for a couple of months to see what changes you see in your body. You will likely feel more clear-headed, with clearer skin and less gastrointestinal issues.


Here are a few of the key points that you should take away from this article include:

  1. The high acidity of coffee can have bad effects on your stomach. This includes nausea, cramping, and acid reflux (or GERD).
  2. There are a few ways to lessen your chances of feeling sick after drinking coffee. Perhaps the most important being to not drink coffee on an empty stomach.
  3. Dark roasts and cold brew coffees tend to be less acidic. The acid in coffee is what often disrupts your stomach.
  4. Leaving out the cream and sugar can help to avoid stomach issues. These additions cause your stomach to release more acid to break them down.
  5. 400 milligrams is the maximum amount of coffee recommended per day for a healthy adult. Anything more than this can cause nausea, cramping, jitters, and more.
  6. Coffee and caffeine intolerance is not uncommon. Additional side effects include acne, a skin rash, and mouth ulcers.


  1. Coffee Dorks
  2. JavaPresse
  3. Healthline
  4. Wired
  5. Women’s Health

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