Why Does Coffee Give Me Heartburn?

crazy by Editorial Staff | Updated on April 26th, 2023

Do you reach for the antacid after your morning cup of coffee? If so, you’re not alone. Many people experience heartburn after drinking coffee, but why does this happen?

In this blog post, we’ll explore the science behind why coffee causes heartburn and how to prevent it from happening.

heart burn with coffee

What is heartburn?

Heartburn, also known as acid reflux, is a common condition that occurs when stomach acid flows back up into the esophagus, causing a burning sensation in the chest. It is usually triggered by eating certain foods or drinking certain beverages, including coffee. While it can be uncomfortable, heartburn is usually mild and temporary and can be managed with lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medications. 

What causes heartburn?

Various factors, including the acidity of coffee, lack of stomach acid, and stress, cause heartburn. Coffee is a known heartburn trigger, but the exact cause remains unclear.

Some believe that coffee’s caffeine content causes the stomach to produce more acid than usual, while others point to its high acidity as the culprit. Whatever the reason may be, understanding how coffee can contribute to heartburn can help you avoid it in the future.

Coffee has long been tied to acid reflux, as many people experience heartburn after drinking it. However, research indicates that coffee doesn’t cause acid reflux; it may worsen symptoms in people with the condition.

While other factors, such as stress, smoking, and certain foods, can also lead to heartburn, coffee significantly impacts acid reflux. It is important to note that not everyone with GERD will experience negative effects after drinking coffee.

Considering this, those who suffer from acid reflux should consider limiting their intake of coffee or switching to decaffeinated varieties.

Cartoon stomach character burning in fire. Acid reflux, heartburn and gastritis concept with indigestion system abdomen pain problems. Cute unhealthy mascot suffer of stomachache, Vector illustration

Coffee acidity can trigger heartburn

Coffee is naturally acidic, and its acidity has been linked to the potential for heartburn. The acidity of coffee can range from 4.85 to 5.10 on the pH scale and can cause heartburn in some people.

It also contains caffeine, which stimulates the production of stomach acid and can cause heartburn. Also, coffee contains other components like phenols and volatile oils, which may irritate the stomach lining and aggravate symptoms. 

The amount of acidity in coffee can vary based on various factors, such as what type of beans are used, how the beans are roasted, and the brewing method used. Although coffee is naturally acidic, it’s important to note that simply drinking coffee won’t necessarily cause heartburn; it’s only when combined with other factors such as stress or poor diet that it can become an issue. 

Coffee relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter

The connection between coffee and heartburn is well documented. Caffeine is a major component of wide varieties of both coffee and tea. Caffeine relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter, which is the muscle that connects the stomach to the esophagus and prevents acid reflux.

When this muscle relaxes too much, it allows stomach acid to escape and causes heartburn. One study suggested that caffeine had no significant effect. However, other studies have shown that coffee was a risk factor for GERD in certain individuals.   

Added milk and sugar can worsen heartburn symptoms

It has been observed that adding milk or sugar to coffee can worsen heartburn symptoms in some people. Studies show that sugar can affect stomach acid production, which may further complicate heartburn and GERD symptoms.

Additionally, dairy products may relax the sphincter muscle that separates the stomach and esophagus, making it easier for stomach acid to reach the throat. In other words, these ingredients can trigger an inflammatory response in the stomach and increase stomach acid production, possibly leading to heartburn.

This is likely related to the higher levels of acidity that these ingredients create in the stomach, which can lead to increased acid reflux. Therefore, it is important for those who experience heartburn to consider reducing their consumption of milk and sugar when consuming coffee.

Too hot temperature can worsen heartburn symptoms

The temperature of your coffee can also affect acid reflux levels, as drinking it too hot can exacerbate heartburn symptoms. People who drink coffee too quickly or too hot are more likely to experience heartburn due to the increased pressure on their lower esophageal sphincter

Hot liquids tend to relax the LES more than cold ones. Hot coffee can also irritate the esophagus and stomach lining, resulting in heartburn. It’s important to remember that everyone is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. Stress levels and lifestyle can also affect how individuals react to coffee temperatures.

Alternative drinks for people with heartburn

Some alternatives can provide a similar morning pick-me-up without the stomach upset for those who find that coffee gives them heartburn. Many people have switched to cold brew coffee, which is less acidic and lower in caffeine.

For those who don’t like coffee, herbal teas are a good option and contain no caffeine. If you don’t like tea, plenty of other drinks contain no caffeine, such as smoothies, juices, and even hot chocolate. While these drinks may not provide the same energy as coffee, they can still help wake you up and start your day off right.


Coffee can cause heartburn in some people. This is due to a combination of factors, including the acidity of coffee, the lack of stomach acid, the role of stress, and the effects of caffeine on gastric acid reflux. Milk and sugar can worsen heartburn symptoms, and the temperature of coffee can also play a role.

However, some alternatives, such as decaffeinated coffee and herbal teas, can be consumed to reduce the risk of heartburn. Ultimately, it’s important to identify your triggers to reduce the risk of developing heartburn.


Editorial Staff

The editorial staff at Crazy Coffee Crave is a team of coffee enthusiasts & Baristas who enjoy the one thing we all think about as soon as we get up in the morning. Trusted by thousands of readers worldwide.