Why Does Coffee Give Me Heartburn?

by Peter Taylor | Last Updated: 25 February 2021

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Why Does Coffee Give Me Heartburn?

Heartburn is a common symptom of acid reflux, which can be highly unpleasant and can even last for several hours for some people, causing trouble sleeping and other discomforts.

Coffee gives you heartburn because of its natural acidic levels as well as the caffeine that’s in it. Both of these components can cause heartburn or acid reflux symptoms. Besides coffee, some other foods and drinks may trigger heartburn, such as spicy food, alcohol, or fatty foods.

This article will discuss how coffee is giving you heartburn, how you can prevent getting heartburn, five things you can do to stop heartburn right now, and the difference between heartburn, acid reflux, and GERD.

How Coffee Is Giving You Heartburn

Heartburn can be an incredibly uncomfortable feeling mostly experienced as a sharp, burning sensation in the mid-chest area. Along with that sensation is an acid liquid that makes its way up from the stomach through the esophagus into the back of the throat. Not exactly pleasant, no.

For most people that experience heartburn, it isn’t something that only occurs after drinking coffee. It can also occur after eating spicy foods, citrus, onions, fatty foods, peppermint, chocolate, or alcohol.

The reason why coffee (or these other foods) might be giving you heartburn is a topic that many have written about, and there are some very different opinions out there as to the reasons and how to stop it.

Coffee is naturally acidic, which could cause its unpleasant feeling in the stomach since the stomach has a natural acidic level. Other sources say that caffeine is a common cause of heartburn and that there are, in fact, several components in coffee that can cause heartburn. Switching to decaf is an option, and drinking a cold brew because it contains lower acidic levels.

How Can You Prevent Getting Heartburn From Coffee?

Now that you know why coffee can be giving you heartburn, it’s time to take a look at what you can do about it. Many coffee lovers out there wouldn’t consider giving it up, even if it would mean less heartburn. Here are some options for those fervent coffee drinkers who require some help.

Dark Roasts

As mentioned before, coffee is naturally acidic, which can cause heartburn. However, some coffee’s on the market with a lower acidic level, which can be a great outcome for those suffering from heartburn after drinking a coffee cup (or more).

These coffee beans do not have any less flavor but are roasted more slowly, which will keep their acidic levels to a minimum. The only downside to this type of coffee is that the aroma can be less potent.

Why Does Coffee Give Me Heartburn?

According to LiveStrong, ‘The best coffee for acid reflux is one with the lowest levels of compounds C5HT and chlorogenic acid, which may irritate your stomach lining. Columbia University notes that dark roasts typically have lower levels of these compounds than light roasts.’

Limit Your Intake

If you are strongly convinced that the reason you’re feeling heartburn is due to coffee, you should consider limiting your intake. This might be hard for some fervent coffee drinkers, but there is more than one health reason to lessen your coffee intake if you’re drinking over 400 mg of coffee a day (which is about four cups).

According to the Mayo Clinic, ‘Up to 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine, a day appears to be safe for most healthy adults.’

Use Ginger

Adding ginger to your favorite recipes or drinks can help alleviate heartburn in the future. If you like tea, try making ginger tea sometimes; if you’re making some stir-fried dishes, add ginger! However, avoid drinking ginger ale since carbonated drinks tend not to be best for people suffering from heartburn or acid reflux.

Don’t Eat Shortly Before Bed

If you want to avoid not being able to sleep due to heartburn discomforts, make sure you don’t eat within three hours before going to bed. This way, your body will have enough time to process and digest the food you’ve had, and there is less of a chance that you will experience heartburn while lying down.

5 Things You Can Do To Stop Heartburn Now

It’s great knowing how to prevent heartburn, but if you are experiencing it right this instant, that won’t help you. What you then want to know is how to relieve heartburn fast.

Here are a few tips that you can try right now to feel better:

  • Stand up straight. Lying down can make acid reflux or heartburn worse, which can be very frustrating when you’re trying to sleep. If you’re sitting down with a straight back, but you are still feeling like it’s not getting better, it’s best to stand up for a while and try to do this in a very upright position. If you want to sleep, try to elevate your body from the waist up (if you have an adjustable bed, you can put it up slightly).
  • Drink some baking soda with water. Mix some baking soda with water and drink it slowly. If you want to drink anything else, remember that drinking it slowly is important.
  • Sip apple cider vinegar. Some people think that sipping apple cider vinegar after a meal can alleviate heartburn, although there isn’t any conclusive scientific evidence for it (yet).
  • Chew some gum after a meal. Chewing gum stimulates saliva production, and it will make you swallow more often, which can help prevent heartburn.
  • Get some over-the-counter medication. If you have these in the house or carry them in your purse, you’ll always have a strategy to do something about your heartburn when it occurs.

The Difference Between Heartburn, Acid Reflux, and GERD

First of all, it’s important to know that heartburn is a symptom of acid reflux or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). This doesn’t mean, though, that you can’t experience heartburn if you don’t have either of these conditions.

Every single one of us experiences heartburn at one moment or another. The degree of intensity, frequency, and discomfort differ, however.


Heartburn, acid reflux, and GERD are different but are related. What all three have in common is that it all revolves around the esophagus. When you swallow food, the esophagus opens and squeezes the food down into the stomach.

At the bottom of the esophagus, there is a valve that separates it from the stomach. When you swallow, it opens for food to pass through, after which it closes again.

Acid Reflux

If you’re suffering from acid reflux, this valve opens on moments it doesn’t need to, which causes stomach contents to flow back upward into the esophagus, which causes your discomfort. These contents can be acid (hence the name ‘acid reflux’), enzymes, digestive juices, and/or food.

Did you know that people can have up to an hour’s worth of acid reflux a day without feeling it? However, if you have more serious acid reflux, it can cause heartburn.


This disease is a more severe form of acid reflux. The stomach’s contents can flow back up in the esophagus (just like acid reflux) but can be more problematic. Besides heartburn, it can cause several other seriously uncomfortable symptoms such as the feeling of lumping in your throat, trouble swallowing, a cough, or a feeling of a tight throat.

If any of these symptoms sound familiar, you will have to get them treated to avoid long-term problems.


People who suffer from heartburn generally experience it after eating certain types of food or drinks, of which coffee is one. Luckily, certain coffees on the market have a lower acidic level and less caffeine, which could be a great outcome for fervent coffee drinkers who aren’t planning on cutting down.

However, heartburn is something that they will still experience to some degree as long as these types of food and drinks are not cut out of their diet.


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