Why Does Coffee Make My Stomach Hurt? 5 Surprising Facts

Coffee can cause stomach pain due to its high acidity levels and caffeine content. Drinking too much coffee can cause acid reflux, stomach irritation, and other digestive issues.

Coffee is a widely consumed beverage that millions of people enjoy daily. However, for some people, coffee may cause discomfort and pain in the stomach. Coffee contains caffeine, a stimulant that can irritate the lining of the stomach. This irritation can cause symptoms such as stomach pain, bloating, nausea, and acid reflux.

Additionally, coffee is highly acidic, which can worsen existing digestive problems. For people with sensitive stomachs or digestive issues, it’s often recommended to limit or avoid coffee consumption. If you experience stomach pain after drinking coffee, it may be helpful to try switching to a low-acid coffee or decaf, or to consult with a healthcare provider to determine the underlying cause of your symptoms.

Why Does Coffee Make My Stomach Hurt? 5 Surprising Causes

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The Basics Of Digestion

The Role Of The Digestive System In Processing Coffee

As soon as you take the first sip of coffee, the digestive system gears up to break down and process the beverage. Here are some key points to help you understand how the digestive system functions to process coffee.

  • The digestive system is comprised of a series of organs, including the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and large intestine, all of which play a crucial role in processing food and drink.
  • After you drink coffee, your mouth and saliva glands go to work, breaking down the coffee’s taste and aroma.
  • As the coffee reaches your stomach, acid and enzymes are released, breaking down any remaining particles.
  • Finally, coffee reaches the small intestine, and it is here that the coffee’s nutrients and chemicals are absorbed into the bloodstream.

How Caffeine Affects The Stomach

Caffeine is widely known as a mild stimulant that can increase alertness and boost energy levels. However, caffeine can also be tough on the stomach, especially for those prone to digestive discomfort. Here are a few key points to keep in mind about how caffeine affects the stomach.

  • Caffeine is mildly acidic and can increase the production of stomach acid in some individuals, leading to heartburn, acid reflux, and other digestive issues.
  • Furthermore, caffeine stimulates the muscles in the digestive system, including the sphincter muscles that allow food and drink to enter and leave the stomach. This can cause the stomach to empty more quickly, leading to indigestion, nausea, and discomfort.

How Certain Compounds In Coffee Can Lead To Digestive Discomfort

While caffeine is often blamed for digestive discomfort, there are other compounds found in coffee that can also contribute to unpleasant digestive symptoms. Here are a few examples:

  • Chlorogenic acid: Found in high levels in unroasted coffee beans, this compound has been shown to increase stomach acid secretion and slow down digestion, potentially leading to bloating, gas, and abdominal discomfort.
  • Decaffeinated coffee: While it contains less caffeine than regular coffee, decaf can still cause digestive discomfort in some individuals. This may be due to the presence of other compounds that can irritate the stomach lining.
  • Acidity: Depending on the brewing method and beans used, coffee can vary in acidity. Higher acidity levels can lead to stomach irritation, heartburn, and other digestive discomfort.

Understanding the basics of digestion can help you better understand why coffee might be causing your stomach to hurt. While caffeine is often thought to be the main culprit, it’s important to consider other factors, including the presence of other compounds that can irritate the digestive system.

By paying attention to your body’s response and making small adjustments to your coffee drinking habits, you can help alleviate digestive discomfort and enjoy your cup of joe in peace.

Cause #1: Acidity

Let’s explore the first cause of coffee-induced stomach pains: Acidity.

Why Does Coffee Make My Stomach Hurt

If you love sipping on a cup of coffee but end up experiencing stomach discomfort, you are not alone. Coffee is a common cause of digestive problems, leaving you wondering why your caffeine fix can sometimes become a gastrointestinal nightmare.

The Ph Of Coffee And Its Effect On The Stomach

Coffee contains acid, which is one of the primary reasons it is so flavorful and aromatic. The acid in coffee can irritate the stomach lining, leading to unpleasant symptoms. The ph. scale measures the acidity of a substance, and pure water is neutral with a ph. of 7.

Coffee, on the other hand, ranges between 4. 6 and 6 on the ph. scale, making it highly acidic.

How Acidity Can Lead To Heartburn, Indigestion, And Other Symptoms

When high levels of acid enter your digestive system, it can cause irritation, inflammation, and other uncomfortable symptoms such as heartburn, indigestion, and acid reflux. Moreover, excessive coffee intake can also lead to stomach ulcers and gastritis in some people.

Tips For Enjoying Coffee While Minimizing Acidity-Related Discomfort

Here are some tips to help alleviate acidity-related discomfort while still enjoying your daily coffee ritual:

  • Choose a low-acid coffee blend. Lighter roasts tend to have higher acidity levels than darker roasts.
  • Drink coffee in moderation, and don’t drink it on an empty stomach.
  • Instead of drinking coffee in the morning, try drinking it after a meal, when your stomach is less sensitive.
  • Add a small amount of milk or creamer to make your coffee less acidic.
  • Switch to decaffeinated coffee or try other low-acid beverages such as herbal tea or green tea.

By keeping these tips in mind, you can still enjoy a delicious cup of coffee without experiencing the unpleasant symptoms that come with high acidity levels.

Cause #2: Dehydration

How Caffeine Acts As A Mild Diuretic

Caffeine is a stimulant found in coffee that can cause the body to release more urine. This is because caffeine acts as a mild diuretic which can increase urine output. When we drink coffee, the kidneys work faster to remove excess water from the body, which can result in more frequent urination.

However, this does not necessarily mean that coffee is dehydrating. In fact, studies have shown that caffeine consumption does not significantly impact overall hydration levels in the body.

The Importance Of Staying Hydrated When Drinking Coffee

While coffee itself may not necessarily cause dehydration, frequent urination can still lead to fluid loss. To mitigate this, it is important to ensure that you stay hydrated while drinking coffee.

Dehydration can lead to a variety of negative symptoms, including headaches, fatigue, and digestive issues. To avoid these, make sure you are drinking enough water throughout the day, especially when drinking coffee.

Ways To Stay Hydrated While Still Enjoying Coffee

Fortunately, there are several ways to maintain hydration while still enjoying a cup of coffee. Here are some tips:

  • Drink water alongside your coffee to help balance out fluid loss caused by the diuretic effects of caffeine.
  • Opt for lighter coffee blends or even decaf, which can have lower levels of caffeine.
  • Consider drinking iced coffee or cold brew, which can be less dehydrating than hot coffee.
  • Be mindful of your overall caffeine intake. Drinking too much coffee can increase the diuretic effects and lead to greater fluid loss.

Remember, staying hydrated is essential for overall health and well-being. With a few simple adjustments, you can still enjoy your daily coffee habit while keeping your body hydrated and healthy.

Cause #3: Sensitivity To Caffeine

How Caffeine Affects The Body

Caffeine is a natural stimulant and is found in many beverages and foods such as coffee, tea, chocolate, and energy drinks. When consumed, caffeine quickly enters the bloodstream and reaches the brain. It stimulates the nervous system, which leads to increased alertness and reduced tiredness.

However, caffeine also affects other parts of the body, including the digestive system. It can cause the muscles in the digestive tract to relax, which results in diarrhea or loose stools. Furthermore, caffeine can increase stomach acid production, which can lead to heartburn, indigestion, and stomach ulcers.

How Genetics, Lifestyle, And Other Factors Can Affect Caffeine Sensitivity

Caffeine affects people differently, and some individuals are more sensitive to its effects than others. Genetics plays a significant role in caffeine sensitivity. Some people have a genetic variation that slows down the rate at which caffeine is metabolized. As a result, caffeine stays in their system longer, and they may experience stronger effects.

In addition to genetics, lifestyle and other factors can also affect caffeine sensitivity. These include age, body weight, gender, smoking, medications, and stress.

How To Tell If You Might Be Sensitive To Caffeine, And What To Do About It

If you suspect that you may be sensitive to caffeine, there are several signs to look out for. These include jitters, restlessness, insomnia, rapid heartbeat, and stomach upset. In some cases, caffeine sensitivity may also lead to anxiety, depression, and headaches.

To determine if you are sensitive to caffeine, you can try reducing your intake gradually. You can also switch to decaffeinated coffee or tea or replace caffeinated drinks with water, herbal tea, or fruit juice. If you experience digestive issues after consuming caffeine, it may be helpful to drink coffee with food or switch to a different type of coffee.

Caffeine can cause stomach upset, especially for those who are sensitive to it. Understanding how caffeine affects the body, knowing how genetics and other factors can affect caffeine sensitivity, and learning how to tell if you might be sensitive to caffeine is decisive to your caffeine consumption.

Cause #4: Gas And Bloating

Certain Compounds In Coffee Can Cause Gas And Bloating

Coffee, as a stimulant, has many significant health benefits, such as increased metabolism and mental alertness. However, for some individuals, drinking coffee can be problematic, especially when it comes to digestive health. Coffee can cause various gastrointestinal issues, including gas and bloating.

Some compounds in coffee are responsible for this condition. Here are a few things that can cause gas and bloating:

  • Acids: Coffee acid can irritate the lining of the stomach and intestines, causing the muscles to contract. This reaction leads to bloating, gas, and abdominal discomfort.
  • Caffeine: Coffee has high caffeine content that stimulates the muscles of the digestive system. This stimulation can lead to gas and bloating.
  • Oils: Coffee beans contain natural oils that can cause the digestive system to slow down, leading to gas buildup, bloating, and abdominal discomfort.

How To Reduce The Risk Of Gas And Bloating When Drinking Coffee

If you’re a coffee lover who regularly experiences gas and bloating, a few measures can prevent such occurrences. These measures include:

  • Lowering coffee consumption: Caffeine can stimulate the muscles of the digestive system, leading to gas and bloating. Reducing the amount of coffee that you drink can help to reduce this condition.
  • Drinking coffee with food: Drinking coffee with food can help to reduce the irritation of coffee acid, which is one of the leading causes of gas and bloating.
  • Choosing coffee with low acidity: If you have a sensitive stomach, consider choosing coffee with low acidity. This type of coffee is less likely to cause irritation to the stomach lining.
  • Going for decaf coffee: Decaf has lower caffeine content, which can help to reduce the risk of gas and bloating.

Other Tips For Maintaining Digestive Health When Drinking Coffee

Coffee lovers who want to maintain digestive health can benefit from the following tips:

  • Drinking water after coffee: Drinking water after coffee can help to flush out the digestive system, reducing the risk of gas and bloating.
  • Drinking coffee slowly: Drinking coffee slowly can help to reduce the risk of irritation to the stomach lining, which can cause gas and bloating.
  • Avoiding high-fat snacks with coffee: High-fat snacks can slow down digestion, leading to gas and bloating. Avoiding such snacks can help to maintain digestive health.

Coffee has many significant health benefits, but for some people, it can cause gas and bloating. By following the tips outlined above, coffee lovers can enjoy a cup of their favorite beverage without worrying about digestive discomfort.

Cause #5: Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

How Coffee Can Exacerbate Symptoms Of IBS

For those dealing with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), coffee can be a trigger for worsening symptoms. Coffee is known to irritate the digestive system, causing discomfort. Here are some points to understand better the connection between coffee and ibs and what you can do.

  • Coffee contains caffeine, a natural stimulant that increases the production of stomach acid. This acid may cause heartburn, bloating, and indigestion, especially in individuals with ibs.
  • A compound present in coffee called chlorogenic acid can lead to an increase in the production of gastric acid, setting the stage for ibs symptoms to worsen.
  • Some people with ibs may have a heightened sensitivity to acidic foods or compounds such as caffeine that cause the digestive system to go into overdrive.

The Connection Between Caffeine And IBS

Caffeine is a stimulant that affects the central nervous system. It activates the muscles of the digestive tract, leading to an increase in intestinal movement. This increase in motility can trigger the symptoms of ibs such as bloating, diarrhea, and stomach pain.

When caffeine reaches the large intestine, it can cause an increase in the production of gas and subsequent bloating. Also, caffeine has a diuretic effect that may lead to dehydration, making stool harder to pass. It is essential to monitor caffeine intake, especially for people dealing with ibs.

How To Manage IBS While Still Enjoying Coffee

If coffee is your go-to beverage, there are some tips you can follow to help manage your IBS symptoms while still enjoying your coffee.

  • Monitor caffeine intake: Stick to a maximum of 200-300mg of caffeine per day, roughly the amount in a single cup of coffee.
  • Opt for low-acid and low-caffeine blends: Look for low-acid and low-caffeine coffee blends in the market. These blend options offer a smoother, less harsh taste with reduced acid content.
  • Try decaf coffee: Decaf coffee is a great alternative for people with ibs who are caffeine-intolerant. It contains little to no caffeine, which can help avoid any potential digestive disturbances.
  • Consult a professional: If you feel coffee is not helping your gut health, consult a nutritionist or gastroenterologist. They may help determine if coffee is safe for your consumption or suggest alternative drinks to try.

For individuals dealing with ibs, coffee can be a trigger for worsening symptoms. It is essential to monitor caffeine intake and follow the tips recommended above to help manage ibs symptoms while still enjoying coffee.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Why Does Coffee Cause Stomach Pain?

Coffee causes stomach pain because it increases acid production and causes sphincter relaxation, encouraging acid reflux. The caffeine in coffee also causes the digestive system to produce more acid, causing irritation and discomfort. Milk, cream, and sugar added to coffee can also contribute to stomach pain.

What Are Some Common Symptoms Of Coffee-Related Stomach Pain?

Symptoms of coffee-related stomach pain include a burning sensation in the chest or stomach, nausea, bloating, indigestion, and acid reflux. Some people may also experience diarrhea and stomach cramps.

Does Decaffeinated Coffee Cause Stomach Pain?

Decaffeinated coffee can also cause stomach pain because it contains acid that can irritate the stomach lining. However, decaf coffee has less caffeine, so it may be less likely to cause discomfort in some people.

How Can I Prevent Stomach Pain After Drinking Coffee?

To prevent stomach pain after drinking coffee, try drinking coffee in moderation and switching to a milder blend. Consider adding milk or cream to your coffee to counteract the acid. Drinking coffee with food can also help, as well as avoiding coffee on an empty stomach.

Are There Any Health Risks Associated With Drinking Coffee?

Although coffee has some health benefits, such as improving cognitive function and boosting metabolism, excessive coffee consumption can cause health problems.

It can lead to jitteriness, insomnia, and anxiety, as well as exacerbate symptoms in people with acid reflux or irritable bowel syndrome. It’s best to drink coffee in moderation.


If you’re one of the millions of people who find that coffee gives you a stomach ache, it’s important to understand that you’re not alone and that there are a number of potential culprits behind your discomfort. For some, it may simply be a matter of consuming too much caffeine on an empty stomach, while for others, it could be an underlying health condition that is aggravated by coffee.

Regardless of the reason behind your stomach pain, the good news is that there are steps you can take to minimize or even eliminate your discomfort. Experimenting with different types of coffee, brewing methods, and additives like milk or non-dairy creamers can help you find a formula that works for your body.

Additionally, working with a healthcare practitioner to identify any underlying health issues and addressing those issues through lifestyle changes and/or medication can also help make coffee drinking an enjoyable experience once again.

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