Why Does Coffee Cause Indigestion: Unraveling the Mystery Behind Stomach Discomfort

I’ve always been a coffee lover; the inviting aroma, the rich flavor, and the energizing effect make it the perfect companion to start my day. However, I couldn’t help but notice that sometimes coffee can leave me feeling uncomfortable, with a bitter taste lingering in my mouth and an unsettling sensation in my stomach. After a bit of research, I discovered that I’m not alone in experiencing these symptoms. Many people suffer from indigestion after consuming coffee. Intrigued by this phenomenon, I delved deeper into the reasons behind why coffee causes indigestion and unraveled the mystery behind this stomach discomfort.

The Impact of Coffee on Stomach Acid Production

Caffeine: A Double-Edged Sword?

One significant factor that contributes to indigestion after consuming coffee is the presence of caffeine. While we cherish the alertness and energy boost that caffeine provides, it can also stimulate the production of stomach acid, leading to gastrointestinal discomfort. The higher the caffeine content in your cup of coffee, the more likely it is to trigger acid reflux or heartburn.

Acidity: Brewing Trouble for Your Stomach

Apart from caffeine, the natural acids present in coffee can also be troublesome for those with sensitive stomachs. The process of brewing coffee releases acids like chlorogenic acid, quinic acid, and citric acid, which can irritate the lining of the stomach and esophagus. Regular consumption of highly acidic coffee can worsen pre-existing conditions like gastritis and acid reflux, making indigestion more likely to occur.

The Impact of Coffee on Digestive Muscles

Relaxation of the Lower Esophageal Sphincter

The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is a muscle that acts as a valve between the stomach and the esophagus, preventing the backflow of stomach acid. However, coffee has been found to relax the LES, allowing stomach acid to flow back into the esophagus, causing heartburn and indigestion. This relaxation effect is thought to be due to both the caffeine content and certain compounds present in coffee.

Delayed Gastric Emptying

Coffee can also interfere with the speed at which the stomach empties its contents, a process known as gastric emptying. Research suggests that coffee can delay gastric emptying by promoting the release of cholecystokinin, a hormone that slows down the emptying process. This delay can result in a feeling of fullness and bloating, leading to discomfort and indigestion.

The Role of Coffee Compounds in Indigestion

Chlorogenic Acid: An Unfriendly Guest?

Chlorogenic acid is a compound found in coffee that has been attributed to various health benefits. However, it might not always be so friendly to our digestive system. Studies have suggested that chlorogenic acid can increase acid production, contributing to indigestion and acid reflux. Furthermore, this acid may also trigger the production of bile acids, which can aggravate gastrointestinal distress.

Trigonelline: The Culprit Behind Bitterness?

Trigonelline is another compound found in coffee that plays a role in its bitterness. Interestingly, it has been observed that trigonelline can stimulate the release of gastric acid, potentially worsening indigestion symptoms. While trigonelline is not exclusively responsible for bitterness, its presence in coffee may contribute to the discomfort experienced by some individuals.

Tips to Reduce Coffee-Induced Indigestion

Opt for Low-Acid Coffee

If you’re prone to indigestion, choosing a low-acid coffee can be a game-changer. Look for coffee beans that are specially processed to reduce acidity, or consider switching to a coffee alternative like herbal tea or decaffeinated coffee.

Limit your Caffeine Intake

Since caffeine increases stomach acid production, limiting your caffeine intake may help alleviate coffee-induced indigestion. Consider opting for a decaffeinated version of your favorite coffee or gradually reducing your caffeine consumption to see if it reduces your symptoms.

Experiment with Brewing Methods

The brewing method can also play a role in the acidity of your cup of joe. Cold brew coffee, for example, tends to be less acidic than traditional hot brewed coffee. Experimenting with different brewing methods might help you find one that agrees better with your stomach.

Take Breaks Between Cups

Allowing your body sufficient time to process coffee and its stimulating compounds can help reduce the likelihood of indigestion. Instead of reaching for a second or third cup immediately, listen to your body and give it some time to recover before consuming more coffee.


While coffee is undoubtedly a beloved beverage for many, it can sometimes lead to unwanted indigestion. Understanding the reasons behind coffee-induced indigestion can help us make more informed choices in our coffee consumption and reduce discomfort. From the impact of caffeine and acidity on stomach acid production to the effects on digestive muscles and the role of coffee compounds, various factors contribute to this mystery. By following some simple tips like opting for low-acid coffee, limiting caffeine intake, experimenting with brewing methods, and taking breaks between cups, we can continue to enjoy our favorite drink without the discomfort of indigestion.

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