Is Instant Coffee Less Acidic Than Brewed Coffee?

The level of acidity is definitely something to consider when you’re choosing your coffee since acidity is a big part of the flavor profile of the coffee, providing sourness that complements the sweetness which comes from the sugars, and the body which comes from the coffee oils. At the same time, coffee that is too acidic could be quite unpleasant to drink, and even cause discomfort in the body.

Since acidity actually depends on factors such as roasting method, type of bean used, and extraction, there is no definitive answer when it comes to comparing acidity levels of brewed and instant coffee. Depending on these factors, instant coffee can be more acidic than brewed coffee, or vice versa.

To understand how we can obtain preferred levels of acidity, let’s start by diving into the factors which affect it.

Effects of Coffee Bean Type on Acidity

The main factor which decides the acidity of coffee is the type of coffee beans used.

While Arabica beans are considered to have higher levels of acidity than Robusta beans, it’s commonly accepted that they also have better flavor, which is why they are preferred in most coffee blends. By making sure that the coffee you’re drinking is composed mostly of Robusta beans, you can lower the acidity levels to a more desirable level. That being said, a blend that consists mostly of Robusta may taste very bitter and unpleasant, which causes a different set of problems.

Being able to choose between different types of beans largely applies to brewed coffee, as instant coffee is made of Robusta beans most of the time due to Arabica beans being much more expensive than Robusta beans.

With Arabica being the standard for brewed coffee, and Robusta being the standard for instant coffee, it wouldn’t be wrong to assume that instant coffee contains lesser levels of acidity than brewed coffee in general when it comes to the type of beans used.

Effects of Roast Level on Acidity

The roast level is another important factor that impacts acidity.

Simply put, as the roast level gets darker, the acidity levels go lower. Going for a roast level such as a French roast will ensure that you get the lowest amount of acidity possible, while a light roast will contain the highest level of acidity.

It’s hard to know the exact roast level in the case of instant coffee, but most coffee beans that are used to produce instant coffee are medium roasted, meaning that they fall into the middle in the acidity scale.

Effects of Grind Size and Brew Time on Acidity

The third factor which affects the acidity of your coffee is grind size, which goes hand in hand with brew time.

As the grind gets coarser, the rate of extraction slows down, meaning that more brew time is required to fully extract a singular particle of coffee. If you couple a coarse grind with a short brew time, your coffee will end up being extremely acidic due to coffee grounds being under-extracted.

To reach optimal levels of acidity, a coarse grind should be coupled with a long brew time, while a fine grind will prove to work better with a short brew time. You can always reduce the acidity of your brew by lengthening the brewing time, but keep in mind that brewing for too long will cause over-extraction which ends up with your coffee being unpleasantly bitter.

Comparing Acidity in Brewed and Instant Coffee

Now that we have more information about what actually affects the acidity of a cup of coffee, let’s compare brewed and instant coffee.

The main problem with instant coffee is the fact that there is no room for customization, meaning that we just have to accept what’s given to us in the package. Usually made with worse coffee beans without too much care for quality, it’s hard to find consistency in instant coffee. You might end up getting completely different levels of acidity between two different brands of instant coffee due to the way they are produced.

On the other hand, we can optimize every single variable of our brewed coffee, meaning that we can tweak the acidity level to our preference by choosing the type, roast level, and grind size of our coffee beans, the brewing method, and the amount of time spent for the brewing process.

Being able to choose all the variables ensures that we get a consistent brew every single time, whether we choose to have a higher level or a lower level of acidity. For this reason, we can say that brewed coffee is a better overall choice if you’re having trouble with the acidity of your coffee. 

We encourage all of our readers to move away from instant coffee, especially in the case that they are regular coffee drinkers.

Extra Tips To Reduce the Acidity of Brewed Coffee

Low Acid Coffee Beans

Nowadays it’s possible to find coffee beans that are actually labeled low acid. 

Since coffee grown in different regions have different characteristics, it’s natural for some beans to have less acid compared to others.

Some coffee brands even treat their coffee beans in order to make them less acidic as there is a growing market for low acid coffee beans.

Cold Brew

By using the cold brew method for brewing coffee, it’s possible to drastically reduce the acidity of your coffee.

Since cold water is used instead of hot water in this brewing method, acidic parts of the coffee beans remain unextracted for the most part, reducing the acidity of the drink by a big margin.

The only downside of this method is the amount of time it takes for the brewing process to conclude. It usually takes between 12 to 18 hours to prepare cold brew, meaning that you will most likely have to start the process a day early for your coffee to be ready when you need it.

Temperature Control

As the water gets hotter, so does the amount of acidity extracted from the coffee beans. While cold brewing is an excellent example of this, sometimes it’s hard to prepare cold brew due to the amount of time it takes.

By lowering the temperature setting of your coffee machine, you can brew your coffee with water that is less hot and reduce the overall acidity of your drink. Reducing the temperature too much may cause under-extraction, which is why it’s a good idea to experiment with small decrements.

Acid Reducers

Acid reducers are granules that dissolve in your coffee, and they can reduce the acidity of your coffee by up to 90%.

You can find acid reducers in most coffee shops for a reasonable price, so it’s usually handy to keep a few packets around.

Salt / Baking Soda

Since salt and baking soda are both acid neutralizers, adding either of these ingredients to your coffee grounds before you start brewing will reduce the acidity of your drink.

Adding just a pinch of either is enough, as adding too much may ruin the taste of your coffee.

Milk / Cream

You can also reduce the acidity of your coffee by adding milk or cream. 

Both of these ingredients do a great job balancing out the acidity of your coffee, and will also add a creamy texture to your drink.

Conclusion

While it would be wrong to say that brewed coffee is less acidic than instant coffee in general, it’s certainly easier to optimize it in a way to reduce acidity as much as possible.

By choosing coffee beans, roast level, brewing method, and brewing time carefully, you can reduce acidity to more accommodating levels, and improve your coffee experience. 

Enjoy your coffee!