Coffee is an acidic beverage with a pH of around 5, and due to its acidity, sensitive coffee drinkers may find that it doesn’t sit well on the stomach, which leads to various unpleasant symptoms.

Fortunately, there’s an easy way to reduce the acidity of coffee and improve the bitter flavor. And the ingredient is likely in your kitchen pantry right now.

Baking soda in coffee neutralizes the naturally occurring acids in the drink. When used in cheap coffee, it enhances the sweeter flavors and reduces bitterness, resulting in a smoother, better-tasting beverage. Lower acidity also reduces the likelihood of heartburn, reflux, and an upset stomach.

The acids in coffee give the drink its unique flavor, so you don’t want to eliminate the acid completely. Without it, coffee wouldn’t taste like coffee.

However, adding just a tiny amount of baking soda doesn’t adversely affect the overall flavor, but it does provide multiple benefits, as discussed in this article.

Benefits of adding baking soda to coffee

Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, is a versatile alkaline substance. When it interacts with the acids found in coffee, baking soda slightly alters the pH, rendering the drink less acidic.

Lower acidity in this caffeinated beverage results in multiple benefits.

Baking soda makes cheap coffee taste better

While all coffee has a bitter taste, inexpensive coffee often tastes more bitter than usual, which usually comes down to lower-quality coffee beans.

To offset this unpleasant bitterness, people utilize a number of methods. 

Some of those methods include:

  • Brewing the coffee using filtered water
  • Adding milk to the coffee
  • Adjusting the brew time
  • Incorporating sweeteners (i.e., sugar, chocolate, flavored creamers, or non-sugar alternatives)
  • Adding spices (i.e., cinnamon, nutmeg, or ginger)
  • Adding a pinch of salt
Ground cinnamon and cinnamon sticks next to each other.

While all of these methods work, an easier and less expensive way to improve the flavor of cheap coffee is by adding baking soda. 

By neutralizing the acids, baking soda makes inexpensive coffee taste smoother. Also, it reduces bitterness by altering the bitter taste receptors in our tongues, ultimately enhancing the sweeter flavors.

Those with stomach ulcers can still enjoy coffee

While coffee doesn’t directly cause stomach ulcers, those suffering from them may experience gastrointestinal pain and discomfort after drinking a hot cup of joe.

It’s the acidic nature of coffee beans that results in exacerbated stomach pain and other symptoms associated with gastric ulcers.

Adding a pinch or two of baking soda to a prepared cup of coffee quickly neutralizes the acids. 

Additionally, it helps lower the acidity levels that naturally occur within the stomach.

This can lead to an overall reduction in gastrointestinal discomfort relating to stomach ulcers, which means that sufferers can still enjoy their favorite caffeinated beverage.

Reducing the acidity of coffee is especially beneficial for coffee drinkers that prefer lighter roasts.

According to Harvard University, lighter roasts are more acidic than darker roasts, as acidity directly correlates with roasting time and temperature.

Blonde roast coffee beans.
Light roasted coffee beans

Basically, the longer and hotter you roast coffee beans, the less acidic they become. 

Lighter roasts go through a shorter roasting process at a lower temperature, hence the higher acidity and higher caffeine content.

Improves heartburn, acid reflux, and GERD

Heartburn, acid reflux, and GERD sufferers may benefit from adding baking soda to their coffee. 

In fact, many healthcare professionals recommend adding a small amount of baking soda to water to alleviate symptoms associated with heartburn and acid reflux. Adding it to coffee has the same effect.

Because of its strong ability to neutralize acids, pharmaceutical manufacturers use sodium bicarbonate in over-the-counter effervescent tablets to reduce stomach aches and other problems associated with high acidity levels, but you don’t need to head to the store. 

Adding a pinch or two of baking soda to your coffee could reduce or eliminate these unpleasant symptoms.

Lowers uric acid levels

According to the Hospital for Special Surgery, gout is a form of arthritis resulting in the formation of crystals throughout the joints.

The condition occurs in people who have high levels of uric acid in their bloodstream and causes intense pain, tenderness, and inflammation that often leads to redness and swelling.

Because of sodium bicarbonate’s alkalinity, it can help lower uric acid levels.

According to a study published in a pharmacology journal, “Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism,” oral sodium bicarbonate regulated urine pH and decreased uric acid crystals found in the urine.

As such, those suffering from gout may find relief by adding baking soda to their daily cup of coffee. However, always speak to your doctor before trying any alternative treatments.

Inexpensive and doesn’t increase caloric content

Baking soda is a relatively inexpensive ingredient, ranging from as low as $0.75 (€0.71) to as high as $3 or more (€2.84+) for a 1 lb (454 g) box.

However, if you’re only using baking soda for your coffee, you should opt for a smaller package or baking soda packets. 

Baking soda’s shelf life is six months after opening, so you wouldn’t be able to use all of it before it expires if you purchase it in bulk amounts.

Unopened baking soda box.

Another benefit of adding baking soda to coffee is that it doesn’t make the coffee worse for you the way that sugar and other ingredients sometimes can.

Unlike whole milk, flavored creamers, caramel, or chocolate, baking soda doesn’t increase the caloric content of coffee. 

As such, it’s an excellent option for those looking to live a healthier lifestyle but who also want a good-tasting cup of joe.

How much baking soda should I put in coffee?

The best way to add baking soda to coffee is by incorporating it directly into the ground coffee beans prior to brewing.

However, you can also add it to a single cup of coffee, but just be careful that you don’t add too much.

You should put ½ tsp (2.84 g) to up to 1 tsp (5 g) of baking soda into ground coffee beans before brewing a full pot. Add a pinch or ~1/16 tsp (350 mg) directly to a single, prepared cup. This amount lowers acidity, smooths bitterness, enhances sweetness, and makes coffee easier on the stomach.

Adding a small amount of baking soda to brewed coffee.

When brewing less than a full pot, adjust the baking soda measurement while maintaining the same baking soda to coffee ratio.

The table below provides a general reference for how much sodium bicarbonate to use based on the amount of coffee you’re preparing:

Amount of coffee Amount of baking soda
Full-pot coffee ½ – 1 tsp (2.84 g to 5g)
½ pot coffee ¼ tsp (1.42 g)
¼ pot coffee ⅛ tsp (0.71 g)
Single cup 1/16 tsp (0.36 g)

It doesn’t require much sodium bicarbonate to neutralize some of the acids in a cup of joe. A pinch up to a teaspoon is all it takes to notice the positive effects.

Can you add too much baking soda to coffee?

You can add too much baking soda to coffee, but it’s uncommon to overdose on baking soda, as it causes an unpleasant taste that most people immediately notice. However, you may have added too much if you experience gastrointestinal symptoms like bloating, nausea, constipation, or an upset stomach.

As mentioned in the previous section, ½ teaspoon is enough for a full pot of coffee, but you may add up to one teaspoon. However, you shouldn’t exceed that amount per pot.

The most effective way to avoid adding too much baking soda to your coffee is by using measuring spoons or a food scale and adding the ingredient directly to the ground coffee beans prior to brewing. 

It’s much easier to accidentally add too much sodium bicarbonate to a single, prepared cup of coffee, especially when using nonstandard measurements, such as pinches, smidgens, and dashes.

Does baking soda taste good in coffee?

Most people are apprehensive or repulsed about the idea of adding baking soda to their favorite beverage.

However, when using the proper amount of sodium bicarbonate, it doesn’t adversely affect the flavor of coffee at all. In fact, it improves it, and that goes for iced coffee as well:

Starbucks blonde roast iced coffee, ready to drink.

Baking soda tastes good in coffee, and in fact, it does such a good job at reducing bitter flavors that many health professionals recommend using it to remove any bitter or sour tastes in the mouth. This is because sodium bicarbonate blocks bitter flavor receptors in the tongue. 

As a result, sweeter flavors are enhanced.

Adding too much baking soda, however, may result in an unpleasant salty, metallic flavor. Fortunately, this isn’t a common occurrence. As long as you’re correctly measuring the ingredient, you shouldn’t come across this issue.

Final thoughts

Baking soda probably isn’t the first ingredient that you think of when you want to improve or enhance the flavor of your coffee, but it’s an effective ingredient for doing just that. 

Adding a pinch of baking soda not only results in a better-tasting cup of the caffeinated drink but also alleviates and even eliminates some adverse symptoms associated with the acidic beverage.

Now, you can enjoy your morning coffee without reflux, heartburn, or stomach ache.

Not only are you able to enjoy a delicious cup of coffee, but you may also feel better after drinking it, too!

More coffee add-ins

Picture of Jeffrey, Author at Your Dream Coffee
Author

On my coffee blog you will find everything you need in order to start brewing coffee at home. Ranging from the basics; to the newest coffee recipes everybody talks about! You can learn more about me here.

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