What do you think when you hear people talking about the acidity of coffee?
Does it make you reminisce about your old chemistry teacher? Does it make you think about pH levels? Does it make you think about citrus fruits? Perhaps it doesn’t mean much. You think it is just one of those fancy words hipsters use to seem clever. You wouldn’t be the first!
Acidity in coffee is a concept that is often misunderstood. In this blog, we will unveil all you need to know about it.
Acidity in Coffee
First of all, acidity in coffee has nothing to do with the pH scale you remember from your chemistry classes. (Pfew right !?!)
Coffee cuppers use this special term to describe the sour taste that originates from the organic acids in coffee. In the context of cupping coffee, acidity is a desirable characteristic.
In a well-balanced coffee cup, the right amount of acidity will make you feel like you're biting into a green apple. It gives hints of orange or grapefruit notes. It's nothing like biting into a slice of lemon, which would leave you with a sour, sharp and quite unpleasant sensation. No, a balanced acidity level in coffee will leave you tasting a pleasant sourness combined with a delicate sweetness.
When comparing the acidity level of different types of coffee , look for words like: fruity, juicy, bright, lively, crisp, refreshing, tangy, etc. on the packaging. These all refer to coffee acidity.
Are Acids Needed to Make a Good Cuppa?
Next to body, aroma, sweetness, bitterness, and aftertaste, acidity is one of the major characteristics that makes up the unique taste of coffee.
The acidity of a cup of coffee will complement or unbalance the harmony of it. Too much, and the coffee will turn sour - and nobody wants a sour cup of coffee! Not enough will make your coffee rather flat.
Types of Acids in Coffee
According to the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) and the Coffee Quality Institute (CQI), acids found in coffee can be divided into two main categories: organic and chlorogenic acids.
Typically, organic acids are considered the “good” and desirable ones. They are responsible for the fruity notes in your cuppa. In this group of acids, we can distinguish the below:
- Citric acid: think about notes of lemon, orange, and grapefruit.
- Malic acid: imagine brewed coffee with the juiciness and sharpness of a green apple.
- Acetic acid: although this also belongs to the group of organic acids, its vinegar-like flavour is not particularly desired in coffee.
When coffee beans are roasted, chlorogenic acids break down into quinic and caffeic acids. The thing is, quinic acids simply do not taste good. They have quite a bitter, astringent and sour taste. Not really what coffee roasters are looking for.
Acid comparison between Robusta and Arabica
Arabica coffee contains more organic acids than the Robusta variant. It tastes sweeter, more fruity and sour. On the other hand, the higher chlorogenic acid levels in Robusta give it a unique flavour with deeper, creamy notes and some bitterness.
The roasting level on the other hand, will also affect the acidity of coffee. In general you can say: the darker the roast, the more bitter, while the lighter the roast, the more acidic it will be.
Now that you have learned more about the role of acidity in coffee, the different terms to look out for when it comes to reading coffee packaging, and the different types of acids, we hope you know what to look for!
Now that you have learned more about the role of acidity in coffee, the different terms to look out for when it comes to reading packaging, and the different types of acids, you are now well-equipped to find your ideal coffee beans to brew your own cuppa!
At Belvico, whether Arabica or Robusta, we always want to preserve and promote the essence of coffee beans.
With a medium roast, the delicate flavors of this coffee are preserved. With a cup of Belvico’s Premium Arabica, you can expect to detect notes of orange, lime, tropical fruits with a sweet herbal aftertaste.
Premium Robusta has nutty and caramel notes, with slight fruity undertones and a smooth aftertaste.
If you want an authentic taste of the Vietnamese coffee from central highland, look no further than the premium Arabica and Robusta from Belvico.