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It’s always nice when I get to use science to explain things, especially when it’s stuff that can have an impact on peoples’ day to day lives. Recently I’ve come across a few articles on the subject of dark roast coffee and it’s relation to acid production in the stomach. For some people, caffeinated coffee has been found to trigger acid reflux, forcing them to eschew the beloved elixir to seek greener pastures. Well, thanks to science that may not be the case forever.
Recently, more and more connections are being made between dark roasted coffee and a decrease in acid production. The articles I looked at focused primarily on the impact of a compound called N-Methylpyridinium or N-MP.
N-MP is produced as a byproduct of roasting coffee, it’s created as a result of the thermal degradation of a chemical called Trigonelline. Trigonelline is commonly found in coffee with higher concentrations present in Arabica coffee specifically. A study published in the Journal Of Agricultural And Food Chemistry found that the presence of N-MP in coffee to reduction of acid in the stomach. As one might expect, the darker the coffee (the longer it’s been roasted) the higher the concentrations of N-MP.
As a way to try and eliminate irritable bowel syndrome, the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders recommends eliminating coffee from your diet as part of a 12 week process to determine whether or not whether or it’s linked to the symptoms experienced by IBS sufferers. However, giving up coffee is no small feat (believe me, I tried it once and it wasn’t pretty).
To that point I think it’s exciting that there’s some scientific proof that some varieties of coffee are safer for people with gastrointestinal trouble. If you’re looking to do some of your own research, illy Cafe has some great dark roast drip and espresso coffee that you can try.