| Dominik Osele

Why is the acid content in espresso beans lower than in beans for filter coffee?

Espresso – little acid, lots of flavour

In this article, we will answer the question of why the acid content in espresso beans is lower than in beans for filter coffee. You will learn what the acids in coffee are all about and what influence the type of roasting and preparation have on them. We will also show you which low-acid variants there are besides espresso and how you can reduce or even neutralize the acid content in your coffee.


The answers in brief

That is why the acid content in espresso beans is lower than in beans for filter coffee

  • The Acid content in espresso is often lower than that in filter coffee.
  • The reason for this is Differences in the roasting of the beans used and in the method of preparation.
  • The beans used to make espresso are usually roasted for longer.
  • With a longer roasting time, the beans not only become darker, but also break down more acid.
  • The different preparation methods also influences the acidity of the drink
  • Filter coffee is brewed slowly, while espresso is prepared under pressure in just a few seconds.
  • The longer coffee brews, the higher the acidity of the drink.


What the acid in coffee is all about

Coffee beans naturally contain acid. The most important of these are chlorogenic acids, which are typical of the plant. But other types of acid, such as malic and citric acid, are also found in the beans. These not only sound fruity, they also give the coffee a sweet and tasty note. However, they do not come into their own in green coffee. It is only through roasting that the aromas of the acids really develop. That is why green coffee smells and tastes very different to roasted coffee. The nuances here lie between raw beans, peas and hay. What sounds strange at first is actually very interesting. We therefore recommend that every coffee lover buy the raw version, smell it, taste it and roast it themselves - an exciting and worthwhile experience. The smell that spreads through the kitchen during roasting alone is worth the effort!

Roasting the coffee beans adds new acids, such as acetic acid. Other acids that are already present, such as malic and citric acid, are strengthened. Overall, however, the acid content decreases with the roasting process and the coffee becomes more digestible. Only about half of the acid contained in the green coffee is still present after roasting. It is mainly the chlorogenic acid that decreases. How acidic the coffee is at the end also depends on the variety, the type of roasting and the roasting time. Arabica varieties contain less chlorogenic acid from the start, at 3-6%, than the smaller Robusta beans. Here the acid content can be up to 10%.


Espresso contains less acid than filter coffee

Thanks to its characteristically strong taste, espresso is the ideal basis for cappuccino, latte macchiato, etc. Because of this intense aroma, espresso is drunk in smaller quantities than filter coffee. Even if most coffee fans assume otherwise, espresso is astonishing in that it contains less acid than normal filter coffee. The "little black one" thus proves that powerful taste and high acidity are not automatically related. But why is espresso so low in acid?


It's all a question of roasting

Espresso owes its lower acid content compared to filter coffee to its roasting, or rather the roasting of the beans used. These are often roasted differently and, above all, for longer than the beans used for filter coffee. The longer roasting time makes the coffee beans in espresso significantly darker. This also creates the typical taste profile of espresso. But that's not all - the longer roasting breaks down more acid than with filter coffee. These are the differences in detail:

Filter coffee:

  • Beans are roasted for about 10 to 15 minutes
  • has a lighter and fruitier aroma than espresso
  • is characterized by light brown to medium brown beans
  • is slowly brewed through a filter (which takes several minutes)
  • Beans used are matte and lighter
  • is often ground coarser than espresso


  • Beans are roasted for about 15 to 18 minutes
  • has a stronger and more bitter taste than filter coffee
  • Beans are significantly darker due to longer roasting time
  • Beans usually have a slight shine because more oils are released during roasting
  • is prepared with 6 to 9 bar pressure in approx. 25 to 30 seconds
  • is always ground very finely

What's interesting is that espresso and filter coffee are often made or prepared from the same beans. The main difference is the roasting method and, above all, the roasting time and the typical preparation method for each drink.

Is the acid in coffee harmful?

Fortunately, caffeic acid is not harmful. In fact, the stimulant is less acidic than our stomach. Its pH value is around 1.5 to 2, while coffee's is around 4 to 6. The acidity of the hot drink is therefore harmless. Nevertheless, there are people who react sensitively to the combination of acids and oils in coffee. This manifests itself in the form of heartburn, belching, feeling unwell or mild stomach pain, for example. However, the acids in coffee are not a danger to us.

On the contrary: they are actually valuable. It is the acids that provide the diverse aromas in coffee and therefore the taste. Without them, coffee would not be half as tasty. Nevertheless, a low-acid coffee can be just as good as one that is high in acid. Which type is right ultimately depends on personal taste. If you are sensitive, it is best to choose a coffee with little acid or switch directly to a low-acid espresso.


Low-acid coffee: a particularly mild pleasure

Coffee that is gentle on the stomach is easier to digest thanks to its lower acid content. For some coffee drinkers, this is a real and sometimes necessary blessing. Not everyone can or should consume coffee with a full acid content. Connoisseurs with a sensitive stomach or sensitive digestion benefit from low-acid coffee. Thanks to it, they can enjoy the delicious hot drink without having to worry about side effects such as heartburn.

Espresso in particular is a great choice for people who are sensitive to the acids contained in coffee. If the taste is too strong and intense for you, you can make the "little black coffee" with milk for a milder coffee drink. The most popular options include latte macchiato, cappuccino and iced coffee. If you still prefer to drink filter coffee, it is best to buy a variety that is extra low in acid.

Apart from espresso: Which coffee has little acidity?

There are also great options for sensitive coffee lovers to consume the stimulant regularly and without worry. Special varieties have been developed for them that are low in acid and gentle on the stomach. As already mentioned above, those affected should generally choose Arabica coffee, as these beans have less acid than their Robusta siblings. However, there are also low-acid coffee varieties that are made from a mix of Arabica and Robusta beans. There are also differences in acid content among Arabica products.

Gentle coffee

The name says it all: gentle coffee is particularly gentle on the stomach. As a collective term, it describes numerous types of coffee that contain particularly little acid. To achieve this, gentle coffee is treated differently than conventional beans. Irritating acids are reduced using a mixture of hot steam and a lot of pressure before roasting begins. The taste remains as strong as normal coffee. Gentle coffee is therefore an aromatic and mild variant of the popular drink. It is ideal for those who react quickly to coffee with heartburn or other complaints, or those who simply like to drink a lot of coffee and want to go easy on their stomach.

Be careful: If you also want to avoid caffeine, you have to choose a specially decaffeinated coffee. Gentle coffee does not automatically mean that the product is caffeine-free.

Low-acid coffee from VietBeans


Neutralize coffee acid – these 4 tips are particularly effective

If you don't have any espresso or mild coffee in the house, there are a few ways to reduce or even neutralize the acid content. With these 4 tricks, the aromatic hot drink becomes more tolerable for acid-sensitive connoisseurs:


Baking soda

Baking soda is fantastic at neutralizing acid – without altering the taste. One tablet of baking soda per liter of coffee counteracts the stomach-irritating substances.


Milk or plant milk

Drinking the coffee with plenty of milk or plant milk also makes it significantly milder. If you are sensitive to fats or lactose, simply choose a low-fat, lactose-free or vegan version.


In other parts of the world, the secret has been known for ages: cardamom makes coffee easier to digest because it soothes the stomach. One of the seed pods per cup is enough to fight the acid and even reduce bad breath after drinking coffee. Another plus point is the new taste experience, because the cardamom gives the coffee an exciting and tasty note.


Serving a glass of water with coffee is a matter of course in many countries and cafés. This is extremely practical for sensitive coffee lovers, because it not only rebalances the water balance, which is somewhat disrupted by the diuretic effect of the hot drink. It also reduces the acidity, because the water dilutes the coffee in the body and reduces the production of acid in the stomach - so simple and yet so effective!

Conclusion: Why is the acid content in espresso beans lower than in beans for filter coffee

Espresso is not only one of the most popular types of coffee in the world, it is also gentle on the stomach. This advantage is due to the particularly long roasting time of the beans used, which removes the acid from them. If you are sensitive to such acids, espresso is usually the right choice. The shorter preparation time also plays a decisive role and significantly improves digestibility. While filter coffee takes several minutes to brew, espresso is ready in just a few seconds. The longer a coffee brews, the higher the acid content.

But lovers of classic filter coffee do not have to miss out on the pleasure. For them, there is so-called gentle coffee, which is pre-treated with high pressure and hot steam before roasting. This removes a large part of the acidity, but the aroma is fully preserved. typical Vietnamese preparation of coffee is a good way to reduce the acidity of the drink.

No matter what kind of coffee you have - espresso, gentle coffee or normal filter coffee - the acidity can be further reduced with our 4 tips. Whether sensitive digestion or regular consumption is the reason for wanting a low-acid coffee: espresso or gentle coffee ensure enjoyment without unwanted side effects and make drinking coffee even more enjoyable and relaxed.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the difference between coffee beans and espresso beans?

As a rule, the coffee beans used for espresso are roasted for longer than those for filter coffee. This means that espresso beans are darker and oilier, which gives them a more bitter and stronger taste. In addition, the longer roasting process reduces the acid content.

What if coffee beans are shiny?

If coffee beans are shiny, it indicates that oils have been released during roasting. This is often seen in espresso beans due to the longer roasting process.

What is responsible for the acidity in my drink?

Coffee beans naturally contain acids. The acid content of Arabica beans, for example, is significantly lower than that of Robusta beans. The roasting time of the beans and the type of preparation (filter coffee or espresso) also influence the acid content.

How can I neutralize the caffeic acid in my coffee?

Our four tips for neutralizing coffee acid In addition to the classic variations such as diluting with milk or the obligatory glass of water, you can also add baking soda or cardamom.