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Do you limit your race-morning java because it upsets your stomach? You’re not alone. According to a statement from the American Chemical Society, up to 40 million Americans avoid coffee or don’t drink as much as they’d like because of stomach irritation. But a niche market of low-acid coffee has cropped up to put java back on the radar for athletes—and the nearly 13 percent of Americans—who’ve sworn it off. Even behemoth brands like Folgers have a low-acid blend or two in their lineup now. But for a more gourmet experience—and blend choices—we recommend trying coffee from a brand specializing in the gentle stuff. Triathlete staffers who can’t live without their morning coffee, low acid or not, gave Seattle-based Trücup a try. Here’s the lowdown on how it stacked up.
The coffee now branded as Trücup came about when the team running Leisure Care, a senior housing management company, was on the hunt for a coffee upgrade for the 7,500 seniors they service. It took a year to find the right fit, and it just happened to be higher on the pH scale. “Once I found this low-acid coffee,” says Joanie Parsons, one of the partners behind Trücup, “it was a perfect pairing for Leisure Care but also for a broader audience that needed low-acid coffee.” Trücup launched to consumers two years ago and is now gaining steam in the coffee market.
Before roasting Arabica coffee beans, the company puts them through a proprietary process using only water and steam to remove stomach-upsetting acids. After roasting, the result is one of five blends (light, medium, dark, espresso and French) with all the aroma, caffeine and strong taste of regular coffee but with significantly less “bite.” In fact, the blends are so smooth that a few coffee creamer-obsessed staffers declared they could even drink them black. According to Trücup, even the flavor with the highest acidity—Born to be Mild light roast clocking in at 5.74 on the pH scale—is significantly less acidic than other brands. (For reference, a typical cup of coffee usually hits at 5, and milk is around 6.) Taste-wise, the brew outshines instant coffees and ranks similar to a pre-ground Folgers. But while a coffee with less bite makes sense for some athletes, several of us blessed with iron digestive systems missed the acidity.
Verdict: These brews are a smart pick for athletes who struggle with heartburn or acid reflux but still want coffee’s natural performing-enhancing benefits. $14 for 1-pound bag, Trucup.com