Coffee Has Side Effects!

*Disclaimer: Y'all know I'm not a medical expert, get outta here with that ish. This is a personal account, talk to your doctor before you do anything, you know the drill.

Anywaaay, so I wanted to chat about the ways coffee makes people feel unwell. I personally experience a range of negative reactions to coffee, ranging from burning burps in my esophagus, stomach cramps, feeling anxious and faint, and of course, coffee's--um--diuretic and laxative qualities. Non-coffee drinkers are probably wondering why in the heckin' tarnation I continue to drink coffee daily given all these side effects, and that's understandable. I have a lot of reasons but I'll quickly list them here: it helps my depression, it's my main source of anti-oxidants at the moment, and I super like the taste.

ANYWAAAY, so I wanted to share some of the ways I manage these wretched side effects which I so lovingly endure for my beloved beverage. These things are true for me, but as always, DO YOU:

1. Coffee feels better with breakfast.

If there's something in my stomach for coffee to play with, I usually don't experience acid reflux or the swoopy-anxious-world-is-ending feeling coffee can bring on. Something absorbent like toast or oatmeal works best, and I try to avoid citrus, fruits, salsa, etc. at breakfast. See more on that below.

2. Finding the right beans--and brewing method--helped a lot.

As much as I love the bright flavors of high-altitude, light-roasted Ethiopian, Panamanian, and Kenyan coffees, they really tend to mess me up. Coffees from Brazil and Sumatra are known to be lower in acidity, as well as coffees grown at lower elevations (below 1700 meters or so). Acids in the coffee bean break down the longer it's roasted, so darker roasts also tend to be gentler on the stomach. I'm making peace with the fact that I'm never going to be that cool, light-roast on Chemex chick: I've settled on medium-roast Colombians for my daily go-to brew.

And brewing method matters a lot! Since espresso is often roasted darker than drip and brewed quickly, without much time to extract all the coffee's acids, it's a good rule of thumb when looking for a lower acid drink on a cafe menu. For home brewing, a cold brew method (paired with a good filtering) is widely regarded as the saving grace of coffee-lovers with sensitive stomachs. As the Toddy Brewer website dramatically puts it, cold brew can help you "reclaim your morning."

3. Give all the acids their own space.

The main things that trigger my acid reflux are coffee, tomatoes, citrus, and alcohol. Damn, that's most of my favorite food groups. Rather than avoid all these things, I try to limit consuming them to one at a time. I drink coffee in the morning, so I don't have tomatoes or citrus with breakfast. I'll save spicy food or tomato-based dishes for early evening, skipping acidic wines, beers, and cocktails that night.

Does coffee make you feel sick? Tell me all about it! I'm not squeamish.

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Kate Kelly