Coffee Alternatives for GERD: Easy Swaps for Acid Reflux Relief

Last updated on September 10, 2023

Discover a variety of coffee alternatives that provide the much-needed energy boost, while keeping GERD symptoms at bay.

If you’re someone who suffers from GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease), you know that coffee can be a trigger for uncomfortable symptoms like heartburn, acid reflux, and indigestion. But fear not, fellow coffee lovers! There are plenty of alternatives to your beloved morning brew that won’t aggravate your GERD.

In this article, we’ll explore some delicious and healthy coffee alternatives that will give you the energy boost you need without the discomfort. So grab a seat, get cozy, and let’s dive in!

Understanding GERD


GERD, or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, is a chronic digestive disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. It occurs when stomach acid flows back into the esophagus and irritates its lining.

This can cause symptoms such as heartburn, chest pain, difficulty swallowing, regurgitation of food or sour liquid into your mouth and a sensation of a lump in your throat.

There are several factors that contribute to GERD including obesity, smoking habits and certain medications like aspirin or ibuprofen. However one major factor is diet – what you eat can have an impact on how severe your GERD symptoms are.

Coffee has been identified as one such trigger for GERD due to its high caffeine content which relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) muscle allowing stomach acid to flow back up into the esophagus more easily. Understanding this connection between coffee consumption and GERD is crucial if you want to manage this condition effectively while still enjoying some energy-boosting beverages throughout the day.

Impact of Coffee On GERD

Drip Coffee Maker

For those with GERD, coffee can be a trigger for uncomfortable symptoms like heartburn and acid reflux. The reason behind this is the presence of caffeine in coffee which relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), allowing stomach acid to flow back into the esophagus.

In addition to caffeine, coffee also contains other compounds such as chlorogenic acids and N-alkanoly-5-hydroxytryptamides (C5HTs) that stimulate gastric acid secretion leading to further irritation of the digestive system.

It’s important to note that not all individuals with GERD will experience symptoms after consuming coffee.

Caffeine’s Role in GERD

man with chest in pain while drinking tea

While some people with GERD may be able to tolerate small amounts of caffeine without issue, others may find it triggers their symptoms. It’s important to note that caffeine is not only found in coffee but also tea, chocolate, energy drinks and some medications.

If you’re someone who experiences discomfort after consuming caffeinated beverages or foods containing caffeine, it might be worth considering cutting back on your intake or eliminating them altogether from your diet. However if you are unable to give up coffee completely there are low-acid options available such as cold brew and dark roast coffees which contain less acidity than regular brewed coffee.

Decaffeinated Coffee and GERD

Barley coffee decaffeinated drink

Fortunately, decaffeinated coffee is an option for those with GERD who want to continue enjoying their favorite beverage without triggering symptoms.

Decaf coffee has been shown to be less acidic than regular coffee, which makes it a better choice for people with acid reflux. However, it’s important to note that decaf still contains some caffeine – about 2-5 milligrams per cup compared to the 95 milligrams in a regular cup of brewed coffee.

It’s also worth mentioning that not all decaf coffees are created equal. Some brands use chemical solvents like methylene chloride or ethyl acetate during the decaffeination process which can leave behind harmful residues on the beans.

Look for brands that use water-based methods instead.

While switching from regular to decaf may help reduce GERD symptoms in some individuals, others may find even small amounts of caffeine aggravating.

Low-acid Coffee Options

Cold Brew Coffee

These types of coffees have lower levels of acid, which makes them less likely to trigger GERD symptoms. Some popular low-acid coffee brands include Puroast, HealthWise Coffee, and Java Planet Organic Coffee.

Another option is cold brew coffee, which has been shown to be less acidic than hot brewed coffee due to its brewing process. Cold brew involves steeping coarsely ground beans in cold water for an extended period (usually 12-24 hours), resulting in a smoother and less bitter flavor profile.

It’s important to note that while low-acid coffees may be easier on your stomach than regular coffees, they still contain caffeine – another potential trigger for GERD symptoms. So if you’re sensitive to caffeine or notice that it worsens your GERD symptoms even with low-acid options, it might be best to avoid all forms of caffeinated beverages altogether.

Herbal Tea Alternatives

Chamomile tea

Not only do they provide a soothing effect on the body, but many of them also have medicinal properties that can help alleviate GERD symptoms.

Chamomile tea is one such example. It has anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce inflammation in the esophagus and stomach lining caused by acid reflux.

Ginger tea is another great choice as it helps with digestion and reduces nausea – both common symptoms of GERD.

Peppermint tea may seem like an obvious choice due to its digestive benefits, but it’s important to note that peppermint oil can actually relax the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which could lead to more frequent acid reflux episodes.

Other herbal teas worth trying include licorice root tea (which helps soothe irritated tissues), slippery elm bark tea (known for its mucilage content which coats and protects sensitive tissues) or fennel seed tea (which aids digestion).

There are plenty of delicious herbal teas out there that offer health benefits without triggering your GERD symptoms.

Green Tea for GERD

green tea

Green tea has been shown to have numerous health benefits, including reducing inflammation and aiding in digestion. It also contains less caffeine than coffee, making it a gentler choice for those with GERD.

One of the main compounds found in green tea is epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which has been shown to reduce acid reflux symptoms by blocking the production of excess stomach acid. Green tea can help soothe inflammation in the esophagus caused by acid reflux.

When choosing your green tea, opt for high-quality loose leaf varieties rather than pre-packaged bags as they tend to be fresher and contain more antioxidants. You can enjoy your cup of hot or iced green tea plain or add some honey or lemon juice if desired.

Rooibos Tea Benefits

Rooibos Tea

This South African herbal tea is made from the leaves of the rooibos plant and has a naturally sweet taste with hints of nuttiness. But what makes it an excellent choice for those with GERD?

Firstly, Rooibos tea is low in tannins, which are compounds found in many teas that can irritate the stomach lining and exacerbate GERD symptoms. Rooibos contains flavonoids like quercetin and luteolin which have anti-inflammatory properties that can help soothe inflammation caused by acid reflux.

Moreover, studies suggest that drinking Rooibos may also improve digestion by increasing digestive enzymes’ activity while reducing gut spasms or cramps.

Chicory Coffee Substitute

Chicory Coffee

Chicory root has been used as a substitute for coffee since the 1800s when Napoleon’s blockade of Europe made it difficult to import goods like coffee beans. Chicory root is roasted and ground, just like regular coffee beans, but it doesn’t contain caffeine.

Chicory root contains inulin, which is a prebiotic fiber that can help promote healthy digestion. It also contains antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation in the body.

When brewed as a hot beverage or added to cold milk with ice cubes (chicory latte), chicory provides an earthy flavor profile with notes of chocolate and caramel. You may find this drink more satisfying than decaf because its bitterness resembles real espresso shots.

Barley-based Drink Options

Barley Tea

Barley is a grain that has been used in traditional medicine for centuries due to its numerous health benefits. It contains antioxidants, fiber, and minerals like magnesium and potassium that help regulate digestion.

One popular barley-based drink is roasted barley tea or mugicha, which originated in Japan but can now be found worldwide. This caffeine-free beverage has a nutty flavor and can be enjoyed hot or cold.

Another option is barley water, which involves boiling pearl barley in water until it becomes thickened into a syrup-like consistency. The resulting liquid can then be diluted with more water and flavored with lemon juice or honey.

Non-Acidic Fruit Juices

Pear Juice

Luckily, there are plenty of non-acidic options that you can enjoy without worrying about triggering your symptoms.

One such option is pear juice. Pears have a pH level of around 6-7 which makes them less acidic than other fruits like oranges or grapefruits.

Pear juice is also rich in fiber and antioxidants making it an excellent choice for overall health.

Another great option is watermelon juice. Watermelons have a high water content which helps to neutralize stomach acid and reduce inflammation in the esophagus.

Plus, they’re packed with vitamins A and C!

Lastly, banana smoothies or shakes made with almond milk or coconut milk are another delicious alternative to traditional fruit juices that won’t aggravate GERD symptoms.

Coconut Water for GERD

coconut water

Not only is it low in acid, but it also contains natural electrolytes that can help replenish your body’s fluids after a night of sleep. Coconut water has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce symptoms of GERD.

One study found that drinking coconut water helped improve digestion and reduced the occurrence of acid reflux in participants with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Another study showed that coconut water was effective at reducing heartburn symptoms in pregnant women.

When choosing coconut water, be sure to opt for brands without added sugars or flavors as these can exacerbate GERD symptoms. It’s also important not to overdo it on any one type of beverage – moderation is key when managing your diet with GERD.

Almond Milk As an Alternative

almond milk

Not only is it low in acid, but it’s also lactose-free and vegan-friendly. Almond milk contains healthy fats that can help soothe the digestive system and reduce inflammation caused by GERD.

When choosing almond milk for your coffee, make sure to opt for unsweetened varieties to avoid added sugars that can trigger GERD symptoms. You can also try making your own almond milk at home using raw almonds and water.

To use almond milk in place of regular dairy or soy-based creamers, simply heat up the desired amount of almond milk on the stove or microwave until hot (but not boiling), then add it to your favorite cup of coffee.

Golden Milk Benefits

Golden Milk Latte

It’s made by combining turmeric with warm milk and other spices like ginger and cinnamon. This delicious beverage not only tastes great but also offers numerous health benefits.

Turmeric contains curcumin, which is a powerful anti-inflammatory compound that can help reduce inflammation in the body. Inflammation plays a significant role in GERD symptoms such as heartburn and acid reflux.

Drinking golden milk regularly may help alleviate these symptoms by reducing inflammation levels within the digestive system. Ginger present in golden milk helps to soothe nausea caused due to GERD.

Moreover, Golden Milk can be an excellent alternative to coffee for those who suffer from GERD since it does not contain caffeine or any acidic compounds found commonly found in coffee beverages.

Smoothies for GERD Sufferers

Banana Smoothie

They’re also an excellent option for GERD sufferers who want to avoid coffee but still need something that will give them the same boost. Smoothies can be customized according to your taste preferences, dietary restrictions, and nutritional needs.

When making smoothies for GERD sufferers, it’s important to choose ingredients that won’t trigger symptoms like heartburn or acid reflux. Some good options include low-acid fruits like bananas, melons, and berries; non-citrus juices like apple or pear juice; almond milk instead of dairy milk; and leafy greens like spinach or kale.

To make a delicious smoothie that won’t aggravate your GERD symptoms, try blending together some banana slices with frozen berries (like blueberries), almond milk (or coconut water), spinach leaves (or kale), chia seeds (for added fiber) and honey as sweetener if needed. This combination is not only tasty but also packed with nutrients such as vitamins C & K1 from the fruit & veggies plus omega-3 fatty acids from chia seeds which help reduce inflammation in the body – another benefit for those suffering from GERD.

Bone Broth Drinks

bone broth

It’s made by simmering animal bones (usually chicken or beef) for an extended period, which extracts the collagen, amino acids, and minerals from the bones. These nutrients are beneficial for gut health and can help soothe GERD symptoms.

To make bone broth at home, simply add your choice of animal bones to a pot with water and any desired herbs or vegetables. Simmer on low heat for several hours until the liquid becomes rich and flavorful.

If you don’t have time to make your own bone broth from scratch, there are plenty of pre-made options available at grocery stores or online retailers. Look for brands that use high-quality ingredients without added preservatives or artificial flavors.

Sipping on warm bone broth throughout the day can be a comforting way to manage GERD symptoms while also providing nourishment to your body.

Apple Cider Vinegar Beverages

Spiced Warm Cider

It’s believed that ACV helps to balance the pH levels in the stomach and reduce acid reflux symptoms. While drinking straight-up ACV may not be palatable for everyone, there are several ways to incorporate it into your diet.

One option is to mix one tablespoon of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar with eight ounces of water and drink it before meals. You can also add honey or lemon juice for taste if needed.

Another way to enjoy ACV is by making an apple cider vinegar tonic. To make this beverage, mix two tablespoons of raw honey with two tablespoons of organic apple cider vinegar in a glass filled with warm water.

Stir well until the honey dissolves completely and then sip slowly.

It’s important to note that while some people find relief from their GERD symptoms by consuming small amounts of ACV regularly, others may experience worsened symptoms due to its acidic nature.

Lifestyle Changes to Manage GERD

Eating Healthy Food

Making some lifestyle changes can also help alleviate symptoms and improve your overall health.

Firstly, try eating smaller meals throughout the day instead of three large ones. This will reduce pressure on your stomach and prevent acid from backing up into your esophagus.

Secondly, avoid lying down immediately after eating as this can cause acid reflux. Wait at least two hours before lying down or going to bed.

Thirdly, maintain a healthy weight as excess weight puts pressure on the abdomen which increases the risk of developing GERD symptoms.

Lastly, quit smoking if you’re a smoker because nicotine weakens the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) muscle which allows stomach acids back up into the esophagus causing heartburn.

Other Dietary and Lifestyle Changes

Eating Healthy Food

It’s important to maintain a healthy weight, as excess weight can put pressure on the stomach and cause acid reflux. Eating smaller meals throughout the day instead of three large ones can also reduce symptoms by preventing overeating.

Avoiding trigger foods like spicy or acidic foods, chocolate, alcohol, and fatty or fried foods is crucial for managing GERD. It’s recommended to avoid eating at least two hours before bedtime to allow your body time to digest food properly.

Making simple changes in your daily routine such as elevating the head of your bed by six inches with blocks or using a wedge pillow while sleeping may provide relief from nighttime heartburn.

Incorporating coffee alternatives into your diet along with other dietary and lifestyle modifications may help alleviate GERD symptoms without sacrificing energy levels.


What can I drink instead of coffee with GERD?

Instead of coffee with GERD, you can drink herbal or fruit teas or opt for decaffeinated coffee.

What can I drink instead of coffee for gastritis?

For gastritis, consider drinking decaffeinated, low-acid roast coffee with nondairy creamer to enjoy your morning cup without negative effects.

Does caffeine free coffee help with GERD?

Yes, caffeine-free coffee can help with GERD, as it is a healthier option due to the reduction in stomach acid generation.

Which herbal teas are suitable for individuals with GERD and gastritis?

Herbal teas suitable for individuals with GERD and gastritis include chamomile, licorice, slippery elm, and marshmallow root.

Are there any natural coffee substitutes that can be consumed by people with GERD?

Some natural coffee substitutes for people with GERD include herbal teas, carob powder, and barley coffee.

How can one manage both their GERD symptoms and caffeine cravings effectively?

One can manage their GERD symptoms and caffeine cravings effectively by consuming low-acid coffee and limiting their intake while also incorporating various behavioral and dietary adjustments.


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