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Acid-free coffee? What the hell is that??? And why does it matter?
If you are anything like me (aka a person who drinks coffee but doesn’t know nearly enough about it) you may be asking yourself that question. I certainly did when I received this product to review.
Well buckle up, Foodies. Because we’re about to explore this because, as it turns out, acid-free coffee is actually a THING (yes…all caps AND italicized…it’s a THING!) and for bariatric post-ops especially, it can be a good thing.
I never knew. But now that I know, I need to make sure you all know, too. Let’s begin.
Bariatric Pal: Who the hell are they?
If you’re new to the bariatric scene, you might not have heard of BariatricPal, but learning about them seems pretty inevitable (they are EVERYWHERE!) so it might as well be me who introduces you.
Think of BariatricPal as…the Amazon of the Bariatric world. It’s an online store (but also an online social community) that carries thousands (yes, thousands) of products especially for bariatric patients. They carry names you know, names you don’t know, and stuff they produce themselves, such as the coffee we are talking about right now.
Run by fellow post-op Alex Brecher, BariatricPal is designed for bariatric patients, healthy for everyone! To learn more about the BariatricPal store, you can visit their website.
Alex’s Acid-Free Organic Coffee: What the hell is that?
Like I said before, it might be helpful to first know what low-acid/acid-free coffee is and why it matters. Then, we’ll move on to this particular offering.
Many post-ops are advised against drinking coffee, at least right after surgery. Why? (WARNING: I am going to explain things as I understand them. But I’m not a scientist, and I don’t play one on television, so…yeah.)
There are two things in coffee that might be troublesome for post-ops and, therefore, leads surgeons/dietitians to advise against drinking it: caffeine and acid. Turns out, these two things can work together to wreak havoc on sensitive digestive systems (such as ones that have been fiddled with after surgery!).
Instead of trying (and failing) to recap what I learned, I’m just going to quote the most easy-to-understand article I found on the subject and, of course, cite my sources!
According to the article, “Here’s what you should know about low acid coffee” on Mic:
“‘The caffeine and the acidity [in coffee] can increase gastric discomfort in people that have a sensitive stomach,’ Lisa Ganjhu, gastroenterologist and clinical associate professor of medicine at NYU Langone Health said in an email. ‘Caffeine will relax the lower esophageal sphincter thereby allowing acid to wash up into the esophagus” and “the increase in acidity [can] further irritate the stomach,’ she said. Coffee’s caffeine and acidity can be a double threat to weak stomachs.”
So now you understand why many post-ops are advised not to drink coffee. Many remedy this by drinking decaf but decaf coffee is not automatically low in acid, so for folks with GERD or other acid reflux problems, even decaf can cause trouble.
Enter low-acid/acid-free coffee!
By roasting and brewing coffee in a specific way, much or all of the acid can be removed — which is gentler for all stomachs, but especially ours.
So the natural question there is, “Well if that’s the case, why isn’t all coffee low-acid or acid-free?”
And that’s where we come to the main issue we must investigate with Alex’s Acid-Free Organic Coffee: the taste. You see, acid-free coffee is gentler on the gastrointestinal system but for many years the flavor was regarded as weaker or not as complex as regular coffee. But over the years, coffee roasters have been tinkering with their lower acid offerings and today there are brands that are endorsed by some of the most discerning coffee connoisseurs.
Does Alex’s Acid-Free Organic Coffee sit amongst those offerings? Read on and let’s find out!
The packaging on this is pretty sparse. I think that’s because this is a new offering. I have followed BariatricPal a long time and I can tell you that as they continue to produce a product, the packaging definitely gets better. But as it stands I was a little bummed that a few things were missing:
- Any information on what “acid-free” means and why I should care. (Hence, my internet search.)
- Directions on how to prepare. (I’ll explain why that was a big deal for me in a moment.)
The packaging does tell me I’m getting 12 oz. of coffee and it also includes the certified organic symbol, meaning that the farmers who grew the coffee beans adhered to independent standards for growing and processing organic coffee beans. The package does not say the coffee is Fair Trade certified so I’m going to assume it’s not.
Other than that, it’s a pretty standard bag of coffee. The packaging appears to be recyclable, which I appreciate. There’s a barcode and SKU number on it so I hope (fingers crossed) there are some plans to maybe one day offer it in some stores!
The coffee comes already ground, which is awesome. I have a coffee grinder but I actually rarely use it to grind coffee so if it was whole bean I would have actually had to clean the ruddy thing. And that’s a lot to ask when you first wake up!
So I’m not well versed enough about coffee to know if the aroma and the flavor go hand in hand (like do all coffees that smell good taste good as well?) but I can say this…
HOT DAMN THIS COFFEE SMELLS GOOD!
Like…I opened the package and my boyfriend was walking past and stopped and said, “What coffee is that? It smells wonderful!” Yeah. So that was encouraging.
I’m also not one of those people who can pick up olfactory notes (very specific smells) from coffee. To me it smelled like coffee. Good coffee. Coffee I want to brew and add a bunch of froo-froo stuff to and curl up under a fuzzy throw and watch Netflix. That kind of coffee. Yeah.
Believe it or not, I actually do not own a coffee maker guys! I like coffee but I would not call myself a “coffee person.” I don’t need it to get up in the morning. I don’t need it to function throughout the day. I like it but if I don’t have any, my day is no better or worse.
So that is to say that I love you all, but not enough to buy a coffee maker. But a French press? That I could buy. So I did. I decided, though, to make the coffee two different ways: I made the French Roast hot and I used the Decaf to make iced coffee. Because I am working hard for you guys!!!
I can sum up my feelings about both coffees, and both preparations, with the following:
This is some SERIOUSLY good coffee, and I was shook by that.
No really. Let me tell you how it went down in our household tasting this coffee.
Since I don’t own a coffee maker I had to go get a French press to make the coffee hot. (Because I really don’t need a coffee maker…it’s just not a big part of my lifestyle, but it is good to have something to make coffee for the occasional guest.) I also put the decaf in my cold coffee carafe. (I got it at ALDI as a seasonal item, and it’s pictured below.)
The next day I’m fixing to brew the French Roast coffee so we can take the beautiful pictures you are enjoying in this review and my youngest daughter – who is arguably the biggest coffee lover in our house – asks if she can have some of the iced coffee. I’d already photographed it so I said she could. She pours herself a cup (still sort of groggy from sleep), fixes it up the way she likes it, starts to shuffle off and stops, mid-step and says, “Where’d you get this, coffee?”
Now I hadn’t tasted it yet, so I didn’t know where she was going with that question, but I told her I was doing a product review. She responded, “This is really good, mom. We need to get more of this coffee.”
And, guys, this was the DECAF. But it gets better. So she sits down at the dining room table and our Basset Hound, Benji, parks himself in front of her (because anytime you are consuming something, hounds must stare you down). Well she accidentally spilled a bit of the coffee and…the DOG starts lapping it up! He has shown absolutely no interest in coffee before but he licked up the spillage and then seemed to want more.
After a quick consult about whether or not coffee will kill my dog (because it was both decaf and acid-free, it seemed unlikely a few licks would do anything to him) I allowed her to give him a few more licks and he was really happy about it.
So, like an hour later, I finally finished taking pictures and was able to fix myself some coffee. I first tasted the iced, then a bit of hot.
WHAT IS LIFE?!? I think all my reading on low-acid/acid-free coffee had me expecting some watered-down coffee. The smell alone should have told me that wasn’t going to be true, but I was not prepared for what I actually tasted.
Coffee. Wonderful, aromatic, rich coffee. Even after I put nearly a half container of vanilla protein shake into it, the coffee taste still pushed through! This is generally not true of most protein coffee situations in my life, so I was super excited. And I’m not ashamed to admit that I drank both the iced and the cold – and low-key wanted more!
So there you have it. I loved it. My daughter loved it. My dog loved it. I think that’s about as strong an endorsement as I can give, Foodies.
On the BariatricPal website, both coffee products are currently listed as having a full retail price of $19.99 but when I checked it was listed on sale for $9.99 for a 12 oz. bag.
So here’s the thing. With coffee, in my opinion, there’s more to factor in than just the price compared to your leading brand. Coffee is not only a crop but almost an equity issue. How coffee is grown, processed and purchased matters – not only to you but to the people who grow the coffee!
I’d love to know how this coffee is sourced and from where, because that’s a thing I tend to know about all the coffee I drink. But in the absence of that, I’m very glad it’s certified organic. That means that harmful chemicals were not used in the growing or processing of the coffee, which is better for my body and the earth.
I also think there is tremendous value in it being acid free. Think about it, guys. With the decaf offering, you could have a nice cup of coffee right before bed and it should have no adverse effects! Plus, we have to adjust to a lot after surgery so if we could have a situation where giving up coffee doesn’t have to be one of those adjustments? I’m all for it! (Of course, you should always consult your doctor about stuff like coffee intake though. Always!)
When I do buy coffee for my iced coffee, I tend to go with coffee where I know the sourcing so that’s what I’m going to compare it to for the price. The same 12 oz. bag (but not acid free) coffee I normally keep around costs about $11.99. So the sale price beats that. I hope the sale price someday becomes the permanent price!
But at the end of the day, the real thing you all probably want to know is “Nik, would you buy this coffee?”
I would! And I will! This was honestly some of the best coffee I’ve tasted in a long time, and I will probably stock up while the sale price is in effect of both the decaf and the French Roast.