Do you like acidic coffee? This is a contentious issue and one that draws debate wherever you go in the world. However, there’s confusion about why there’s acidity to some coffees in the first place. How do you bring this acidity to the fore? How do you hide it?
Acidity in Coffee
When acidity is present in coffee, people often find it hard to describe just how it tastes. While some use the word ‘tangy’, others will say that it’s sharp, lively, sparkling, fizzy, fruity, or something else entirely. Despite the confusion about how to describe it, one thing is certain – acidity changes both the aroma and taste of coffee. In addition to the taste, there’s also a feeling that comes with acidic coffee.
To understand the impact of acidity in coffee, we need to look deeper at the chemical formulation of the much-loved drink. According to many experts, acids in coffee are split between chlorogenic and organic. Between the two, the latter is the better type of acidity to have in your cup of coffee. For example, malic acid is exactly what you find in green apples. Therefore, coffees containing this acid taste normal but with a slight sharpness.
Meanwhile, tartaric acid is common in bananas and grapes while citric acid is found in many citrus fruits (unsurprisingly!). However, it’s not all good news because some coffees contain acetic acid, and this is often found in vinegar. With this, it leaves an unpleasant taste in the mouth.
For the most part, consumers are happy with products like single origin coffee from Bun Coffee, that have organic acids in their coffee because it adds a fruity taste (one that would be missed when not included). Yet, things change when you get to chlorogenic acids. While these acids break down in the roasting process, they turn into caffeic and quinic acids – the latter of which offers nothing but sourness and bitterness. In other words, it’s the reason why you might pull away from your mug and wince.
Why Coffee Differs
Ultimately, the acidity of your coffee depends on its origin, variety, species, processing, elevation, climate, and various other external factors. As an example, the soil characteristics of where the coffee beans grew play a large role. While Colombian coffees tend to contain citric acid, Kenyan coffees boast malic acid. Meanwhile, the coffee beans with the best reputation for flavour and quality typically grow at higher elevations. When grown in a colder climate, the beans ripen much slower and this also affects the flavour.
With this, the first thing to realise is that all coffee beans and variations are different. Yet, this doesn’t mean that you can’t control the acidity at all. While you cannot generate a flavour that doesn’t already exist in the coffee, you can use the roasting process to bring out the best qualities. If you want to block the acidity, you can also achieve this.
Here are some tips:
- Light roasts lead to natural flavours while darker roasts lead to bitter flavours (as a general rule). It’s difficult to roast dark while avoiding bitterness.
- Don’t roast with temperatures that are too high because this also draws out the acidity. If you have soft beans, you’ll need to start with a low temperature and be very delicate.
- Experiment with different temperatures and times. Just because it doesn’t work the first time, this doesn’t mean you won’t achieve the perfect cup of coffee next time.
All coffee is different, and the roasting process affects acidity – play around with both to make a cup that you love in the mornings!
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