What Is Coffee Bloating And 7 Proven Ways To Avoid It

13 min read MAY 28, 2023

You drink coffee because you enjoy the aroma and flavor.

You drink coffee because it helps keep you going throughout the day.

You drink coffee because of its very long list of incredible health benefits.

You don’t drink coffee expecting to feel swollen, uncomfortable, and bloated.

Wait? Can coffee actually cause bloating?

If coffee causes bloating, is it because of its caffeine content? Can what you add to your coffee cause bloating?

What about how you prepare your brew, can this contribute to, or alleviate, bloating?

And, if coffee turns out to be the source of any stomach distress you’re experiencing, especially bloating, what can you do about it?

Can you still enjoy coffee without experiencing (or even potentially experiencing) painful stomach bloating?

Okay! Enough questions for now, right?

So then, let’s get down to the answers!

Here we’ll discuss all you need to know about whether or not coffee can cause bloating and how you can avoid this painful sensation while enjoying your brew.

Does Coffee Cause Bloating?

Bloating can be described as a feeling of uncomfortable tightness or fullness in the abdomen. Some even liken it to feeling as if there’s a balloon ever expanding within their midsection.

When you’re bloated you may also experience:

  • Excessive gas (or flatulence)
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Cramping or stomach pain
  • Burping

Bloating can be caused by a variety of things such as eating or drinking too fast, consuming foods or drinks that cause a buildup of gas, stress, hormones, and some medications.

But, what about our beloved coffee? Can coffee actually be a bloating culprit as well?

The blanket answer? Yes, for some folks, coffee can cause bloating.

However, there’s a bit more to it than that…

  • The acidity of your coffee can make all the difference when it comes to bloating.
  • What you eat or drink surrounding the times when you enjoy a cup of coffee can change whether or not you experience bloating from coffee.
  • Your personal gut health can determine whether or not coffee causes you to bloat.
  • Drinking caffeinated or decaf coffee can make a difference when it comes to bloating.
  • And, your personal sensitivities, or lack thereof, to caffeine can determine whether or not you experience bloating when enjoying a cup of joe.

Why can coffee sometimes cause bloating, you ask?

Simply put, coffee can act as a natural laxative and as a diuretic. On top of that, coffee is generally acidic.

As a laxative, coffee increases the release of cholecystokinin, a hormone that stimulates the muscles in your digestive tract which can prompt a bowel movement, and in this process, your body may produce extra gas which leads to you feeling bloated.

Then, the caffeine content of coffee is also often associated with its diuretic effects.

For some people, the diuretic effects of coffee actually prevent them from experiencing bloating.

But, for others, drinking large amounts of caffeine (the general, healthy, recommendation is less than 400 mg per day), can raise potassium levels, leading to stomach bloating.

Aside from its diuretic effects, the caffeine in coffee can also slow digestion and increase the production of stomach acid, both of which may cause bloating in caffeine-sensitive individuals.

Most coffee is also acidic, and this acid can irritate the lining of your gut leading to gas, bloating, and other stomach issues.

Unfortunately, there are a few other things to consider regarding coffee’s bloating effects as well.

Despite this bean’s many health benefits, due to its popularity, coffee is a cash crop. And, this means it’s often mass produced with an abundance of chemical pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers, each of which can cause digestive distress.

The locations where most mass produced coffee is grown also lend to the prevalence of mold growth on such beans, and this can lead to the presence of mycotoxins in your cup of joe.

One of the most common mycotoxins found in coffee is Ochratoxin A (OTA), and studies show exposure to this toxin leads to changes in the balance of needed bacteria within your gut, which can cause an increase in gas production and bloating.

But, since digestive issues can occur for a variety of reasons, how can you truly tell if it’s actually your daily cup of coffee that is causing your uncomfortable, sometimes downright painful, abdominal bloating?

To determine whether or not coffee is the source of your bloating or other stomach distress, try the following:

  • Check to see if the coffee you’re drinking is organically and sustainably grown without the use of pesticides, fertilizers, and other harmful chemicals.

  • Make sure you’re drinking coffee that is certifiably free of mold, mycotoxins, heavy metals, and other harmful substances that can hinder your gut health.

  • Keep a journal, tracking the foods and beverages you consume as well as the symptoms you experience when enjoying these items, including coffee and anything you add to your brew.

  • As we mentioned earlier, coffee isn’t the only potential cause of bloating. So, when you journalize your food and beverage intake, look for other potential bloating triggers, and keep track of your stress levels as well.

  • Then, look for ways to reduce overall stress and see if this (stress) could actually be what’s causing your bloating.

  • In my experience, meditation, walks in nature, daily gratitude, essential oil aromatherapy, and deep breathing all greatly aid in reducing stress levels.

  • If you’re on any medications, talk to your doctor to see if any of these may be causing your abdominal swelling and discomfort.

  • Eliminate coffee for roughly a week to see if your bloating subsides in its absence. Then, slowly reintroduce your brew to see if coffee is actually what’s been at the root of your stomach distress.

Now, after your journaling, experimenting, and eliminating, what if you do find that coffee is the source of your bloating?

Or, what if you simply want to ensure that you don’t experience bloating after enjoying a delicious cup of coffee?

Either way, we’ve got you covered…

How To Avoid Coffee Bloat?

The older I get, the more keen I’ve become at noticing unwanted physical symptoms…bloating for instance. And, when noticing these things, personally, I turn into a bit of a detective. I ask myself questions, could it be this, could it be that? (You know, incorporating some of the science-backed methods above, like food journaling.)

Then, I also do a bit of digging, looking for what the experts say regarding what might be causing my symptoms and how I can get to the root of the problem.

Sometimes this involves a physician, but sometimes it can be as simple as learning more about what I’m putting into my body.

So, when it comes to coffee and bloating, here are some research backed, expert-recommended, and even personally tested ways to enjoy your cup(s) of coffee without your savored sipping leading to painful stomach distress and bloating.

1- Don’t Drink Black Coffee On An Empty Stomach

Drinking black coffee first thing in the morning before eating reduces the amount of hydrochloric acid in your stomach. This occurs due to a component found in coffee called N-methylpyridinium which blocks the stomach’s ability to produce the acids necessary for digestion.

And, drinking black coffee on an empty stomach can also increase stomach acidity by prompting the production of gastric acid, leading to abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, and more.

2- Slowly Savor Your Sips

When you eat or drink too quickly, no matter what you’re consuming, this can lead to excess gas and bloating.

So, while you love coffee, so much so that you may practice more gulping than sipping, when experiencing bloating after your morning cup, simply slowing down…stopping to smell the coffee so to speak…can potentially alleviate any gas build up and bloating.

3- Take Note Of What You’re Adding To Your Brew

If you enjoy your coffee with dairy or sugar, these may lead to bloating. In other words, it may not be the actual coffee, but the coffee add-ins that are causing your stomach distress.

Milk certainly pairs well with coffee, but dairy milk contains lactose. Bacteria within your colon ferment and break down lactose which, in turn, produces fatty acids as well as gasses such as methane, carbon dioxide, and hydrogen.

In some people, this causes mild bloating, but in others, this can lead to lactose intolerance which causes greater amounts of gas build up and painful bloating.

As far as sugar, this common coffee addition can interfere with how your large intestine absorbs water, which creates a heavy, bloated, feeling in your gut.

If you want to add a sweet element to your brew, look for natural selections like pure maple syrup or raw honey, both of which possess multiple health benefits.

Or, you can simply start to slowly add less and less sugar to your brew, and before you know it, you may kick the sugar ‘necessity’ altogether.

To determine whether or not dairy milk could be causing digestive distress, switch to a non dairy alternative or skip the milk addition altogether for at least 3-4 days to see if this was your bloating culprit.

Then, if you decide to change your milk add-in entirely, you can definitely choose from a variety of non dairy options like coconut, almond, cashew, or oat milk.

But, in my experience, if you’re looking for a creamy coffee addition, but don’t prefer non-dairy milks, heavy cream is a great alternative.

Heavy cream has a very high fat content and contains almost no sugar, which means its lactose content is extremely low, making a tablespoon or so in a cup of coffee safe even for lactose intolerant individuals.

4- Sensitive To Caffeine? Switch To Decaf

The caffeine content of coffee can be a cause of stomach distress for those who tend to be sensitive to this stimulant.

We discussed earlier how caffeine can stimulate stomach acid production, and as coffee is naturally acidic, this essentially creates too much acid thereby causing stomach pain, bloating, and many other unwanted digestive symptoms.

Remember though, this is generally only a concern for those who tend to be sensitive to caffeine.

If you enjoy other items that contain caffeine without experiencing bloating, then it’s likely the caffeine content of your brew isn’t causing bloating, but rather the acidity of your coffee may be to blame.

Which brings us to our next point…

5- Drink Low Acid Coffee

Caffeine isn’t the only thing that causes bloating. And, this is why some folks who are sensitive to caffeine find they still experience this digestive distress even when switching to decaf.

Why? Because most coffee is naturally acidic. So, while switching to decaf can help part of the problem, the acidic nature of coffee can still irritate the lining of the gut, leading to excess gas, bloating, and an overall general sense of abdominal discomfort.

Lifeboost coffee is naturally low acid as it’s grown at high elevations in the shaded rainforest mountains of Nicaragua. The pH level of our dark roast is 6.0 or higher, which is almost as alkaline as water!

Full disclosure…I wasn’t much of a fan of coffee until I started drinking Lifeboost.

In all of my past coffee sampling experiences, I didn’t like the bitter taste, my stomach hurt after I drank coffee, and I sometimes felt a burning sensation in my chest for days after drinking it.

Trying Lifeboost was a completely different experience!!

Light roasts can typically contain slightly more acid than darker roasts, and still, Lifeboost Light Roast is my all time favorite brew. A roast that typically is described as bright and acidic not only has no negative affects on my digestion, it also tastes so clean and incredibly smooth.

And, we have heard countless customer testimonials explaining the same results, namely how switching to Lifeboost coffee alleviated any stomach discomfort due to its low acid content (and more, which we’ll detail shortly).

6- Switch Preparation Methods And/Or Roasts

Another way to decrease the potential of bloating when enjoying your brew is to try different roasts or ways to prepare your coffee.

Espresso is often considered easier on the stomach than other roasts as it’s roasted at higher temperatures and for longer periods of time than even a typical dark roast.

And, as far as preparation methods, using the cold brewing method reduces the overall acidity of coffee.

Since the coffee isn’t exposed to high levels of heat during the brewing process, the oils in the beans aren’t released. Therefore, cold brew can contain up to 70% less acid than traditionally brewed coffee.

And, if you’re not a fan of cold coffee, I would still highly recommend preparing your coffee using this method, then all you have to do is simply heat your brew on the stovetop when you want to enjoy it.

7- Pass On The Pesticides, Heavy Metals, And Mycotoxins

So then, if cold brewing can reduce the acid content of coffee compared to traditional drip brewing methods, then why couldn’t you just use any old acidic coffee and prepare it using the cold brew method to reduce acid. This would surely take care of bloating, right?

Unfortunately, as we briefly covered earlier, coffee is a highly sought after commodity, which means much of what’s on the market today is mass produced in deforested areas where row after row of hybrid coffee shrubs can be planted in full sun to grow quickly.

These common growing practices also incorporate the use of pesticides, fertilizers, and other harsh chemicals which inevitably make their way into your cup of joe and then wreak havoc on your gut causing nausea, headaches, diarrhea, bloating, and much more.

Mold growth is also highly prevalent in coffee due to the conditions often required to grow these popular beans. And, mold growth leads to the presence of mycotoxins, also present in most mass produced coffee.

As we also mentioned earlier, mycotoxins are incredibly harmful to the health of your gut. And, as the lining, in particular, of your gut is damaged, this causes an increase in gas which leads to you experiencing painful bloating.

Lifeboost coffee, on the other hand, is:

  • grown sustainably at high elevations where rainwaters flow down the rainforest mountainside away from the coffee shrubs

  • always single origin, avoiding cross contamination of molds

  • grown with native flora and fauna which provide a canopy of shade for slow growth, a natural means of pest control, nutrient dense soil from animal waste and fallen/decomposing leaves (all of which negate the use of any harmful chemicals in the growing process)

  • hand selected, spring water washed, and sun dried to ensure no mold grows on the beans in this step of processing

  • 3rd party tested for molds, mycotoxins, heavy metals, pesticides, and 400+ other toxins to ensure complete purity

And, while we won’t continue on endlessly with numerous other categories of ways to avoid bloating, we will leave you with a few extra tips to relieve this uncomfortable digestive symptom:

- Eat fresh, water-rich fruits and vegetables as these offset the constriction of blood vessels which makes you feel bloated.

- Stay hydrated as this helps to flush out excess gas and relieves bloat.

- Avoid processed foods, sugars, and excessive amounts of carbohydrates as each of these contribute to bloating.

- Eat/drink probiotic rich foods/beverages such as kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, and kombucha which promote a healthy balance of bacteria within your gut to prevent bloating.

- Engage in regular physical exercise. Even gentle movement, like walking or yoga, can stimulate your digestive system and reduce bloating.

Check out Lifeboost Coffee Optimist Light Roast.

Medical Disclaimer
This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Charles Livingston nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.


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I wish you could bring back the measuring spoons. I saw them once but never again. I missed the chance to get them. Please bring them back. Thank you. Your coffee is the best. No upset stomach.