Coffee and Digestion – 7 Digestive Problems with Coffee

Digestive problems with coffeeAfter doing the research for this post, I gave up coffee. I’m done with it.

I took the last I had to work as an offering to the caffeine addicts there and replaced it with a caffeine-free, coffee tasting substitute I’ll share ahead. It was actually easier than I’d expected.

Giving up their daily caffeine fix is a scary thought for some people. Many of us are far more addicted to this legal drug than we’d like to admit to ourselves.

What I hope to offer with this post is some motivation and momentum to give up coffee. I’ll do this by covering the damaging effects it can have on your gastrointestinal tract and the way these effects lead to various health issues and digestion problems, including flatulence.

And for some good news, in following posts I’ll go into some of the best ways to beat a caffeine addiction by replacing coffee with healthier alternatives. Just making this one change in your drinking habits could make a dramatic difference to your health and sense of well being in your daily life.

OK, if you’ve made it this far without being scared off then let’s get started.

7 Negative Health Effects of Coffee

1. Increases Acidity 

Coffee contains various oils, acids and compounds like caffeine that can harm your stomach and intestines by irritating their linings. When you drink coffee your stomach produces large amounts of hydrochloric acid (HCl).

This overproduction of HCl is especially pronounced if you drink a cup of coffee on an empty stomach, making first thing in the morning probably the worst possible time to drink coffee.

The body can have a limited ability to make hydrochloric acid, particularly if we are nutritionally deficient or under stress. By drinking regular cups of coffee you are kicking HCl production into overdrive. Do this for long enough and your body’s capacity to produce hydrochloric acid may be reduced.

When there is a shortage of hydrochloric acid for digestion, we run into problems breaking down and utilizing protein in particular. This directly affects flatulence issues because undigested, fermenting protein is food for the intestinal bacteria that create, among other gases, hydrogen sulfide (rotten egg gas), for those really smelly farts.

2. Heartburn

Right at the start of digestion, coffee can cause heartburn (acid reflux) by relaxing the esophageal sphincter muscle. Caffeine is known to have an effect on this muscle but the problem occurs even with decaffeinated coffee.

Health Effects of CoffeeIn fact, apart from minimizing the jittery, fight or flight response from the caffeine, decaf does not seem to fare much better in the health stakes than regular coffee. It has most of the same irritating oils, acids and compounds, the same diuretic, laxative and mineral blocking effects and has actually been shown to be even more acid forming in the gastrointestinal tract than regular coffee.

Decaf may have a temporary role in giving up coffee for somebody looking to let go of their addiction, but it’s not a long-term solution if you value your health and energy. Besides, in the post on coffee replacements there is something far better.

3. Ulcers and IBS

Coffee is a well-known irritant for those suffering from IBS, gastritis, Crohn’s disease, colitis and ulcers and most doctors advise it be avoided for sufferers.

In fact, while ulcers are believed to originate from the Helicobacter pylori bacteria, coffee’s acidic effect on the stomach may help provide suitable conditions for the bacteria to access the stomach lining in the first place.

Coffee is often cited as an intestinal irritant for anyone suffering gastrointestinal problems. It seems it’s not the caffeine that is as much of a problem as certain enzymes in the coffee beans themselves. This is why switching to decaf for IBS or ulcer sufferers rarely works.

Coffee is acidic and can prevent the healing of an already damaged GI tract. Once again, regular or decaffeinated makes no difference in this regard.

4. Laxative Effects

Some people actually use coffee deliberately as a laxative and it can indeed stimulate the process of peristalsis that sends us to the bathroom. The problem is, coffee appears to stimulate gastric emptying of the stomach before food has a chance to properly digest.

The acidic stomach contents are dumped into the small intestine too early and may cause injury or inflammation to the very place that is supposed to be absorbing most of the nutrients to keep us alive and healthy. More undigested food also usually equals more flatulence problems.

The laxative effect of coffee is so strong in some people it has been observed only four minutes after drinking it. Decaffeinated coffee has been shown to have the same effect so researchers don’t think caffeine is solely responsible. Another mark against decaf coffee for stomach problems and gas unfortunately.

5. Diuretic Properties

The caffeine in coffee is a strong diuretic in the human body. In large doses it can increase fluid flushing through the kidneys which leads to a frequent need to pee, loss of minerals and other important nutrients and dehydration.

Dehydration may actually lead to weight gain in a roundabout way. When we are dehydrated the body has a strong need to replenish water but our brains often seem to mistake this signal for the feeling of being hungry. So we reach for a snack (often a salt laden one, making dehydration even worse) when what we really need is more water.

The next time you feel like you need a snack outside of normal meals, try a large glass of water first. There’s a fair chance you’re just dehydrated.

6. Affects Mineral Absorption

Drinking coffee may restrict our kidneys ability to retain magnesium, calcium, zinc and other important minerals. Iron absorption in the stomach can also be heavily impaired if coffee is taken at the same time as an iron rich meal. All of these minerals are required in the complex process of digestion at some point.

Reduction in the already hard to get magnesium is especially worrying digestion wise as it is needed to maintain bowel regularity. Many people are deficient in magnesium but unfortunately magnesium supplements are not particularly well absorbed.

If you are not getting enough from your food a better way to replenish magnesium in your body is magnesium oil that you spray directly onto your skin. Magnesium oil has been shown to have a much better absorption rate than standard magnesium supplements.

Magnesium plays an important role in regulating how our bodies convert food into energy and symptoms such as fatigue, low energy, muscle tension, headaches, anxiousness, irritability and inability to sleep have all been linked to magnesium deficiency.

If you suspect you might not be getting enough magnesium (or drinking coffee has inhibited its absorption), magnesium oil sprayed directly onto your skin after a shower can help replenish your body’s magnesium stores. I have personally noticed a real reduction in muscle tension and an improvement in my energy levels since using it.

7. Elevates Stress Levels and Interferes with GABA Metabolism

Coffee elevates the stress hormones cortisol, norepinephrine and epinephrine (adrenaline) that increase heart rate, blood pressure and activate the body’s ‘fight or flight’ response.

Hormones like adrenaline are supposed to trigger when we are in danger and need to respond quickly. They are not meant to be ‘on’ all the time in the way drinking coffee can make them. Is that jittery rush caffeine gives us really energy? Wouldn’t a better word for it be anxiety?

This increase in stress hormones can also inhibit the process of digestion, particularly in the stomach. This is due to the way the body takes blood and resources away from the digestive processes in preparation for a potential threat. A threat that never comes (though indigestion, bloating and flatulence problems may well).

Coffee and the caffeine in it also play havoc with the metabolism of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA is found in both the brain and the gastrointestinal tract. In the brain, GABA plays an important role in regulating mood and stress management. In the gastrointestinal tract, GABA provides a calming effect on the whole system.

Both of these functions are important for healthy digestion and indeed overall health and well being. Unfortunately, caffeine interferes with the way GABA binds to its receptors to provide that calming influence on both the brain and the GI tract (Ever tried slowing down and being very calm after a strong cup of java?).

As a final parting shot to your stress levels, coffee can also cause an increase in the excretion of B vitamins, which are central to relaxation and stress management.

Last Thoughts on Coffee and Digestion

I am well aware there are many people out there who won’t want to hear all of these bad things written about their good friend coffee. But is it worth asking ourselves, what kind of friend does this kind of damage to our digestion and our health in general?

Caffeine addiction is a very common problem in Western societies and digestive problems, heightened stress and anxiety and sleeping disorders are only a few of the health issues it can create.

Can you get away with a cup or two a day without obvious issues? Maybe. But then again, anyone reading a website on flatulence and gastrointestinal problems is probably aware that they have an issue or two, even if it’s not that obvious yet.

Wouldn’t it be better to address some of the causes of those issues before they become even more obvious and less easy to deal with? Besides, in the particular case of coffee, if you’re not addicted to it, then it can’t hurt to replace it with a healthier alternative for a couple of weeks and see how it makes you feel – can it?

Actually, giving up coffee doesn’t have to be that big a deal. Using replacement therapy, where you substitute coffee with something refreshing that gives a better type of energy, like medicinal strength peppermint tea or delicious organic ginger tea, alongside these caffeine withdrawal remedies, can help you get through the first week. It’s usually pretty smooth sailing after that.

The next page has 3 steps to replacing coffee and a bunch of great alternatives (one even tastes like coffee but is alkaline rather than acidic and actually quite healthy). Following on from there is a detailed plan for coffee replacement with specific steps for minimizing withdrawal to help you give up coffee easily and permanently.

Photo 1: bradleypjohnson / Photo 2: Mr Thinktank / Photo 3: Banalitie/ Photo 4: jenny downing


Thank you to everyone who has shared their experiences on this page. Unfortunately the sheer number of them is slowing down its loading so I’ll continue the conversation at


Eating too much salt make your extra cellular vascular plasma slightly (or more than slightly) hypernatremic. This causes fluid to leave the cells and join the vascular fluids, thereby dehydrating your cells. The added problem is that now you have more fluid in vascular spaces causing high blood pressure due to hypervolemia.


I was plagued by intestinal cramps and diarrhea until I stopped drinking coffee. Now that I stopped for the last 20 years, I had not more cramps and diarrhea. I also had no problems with too much gastric acid (requiring me to take antacid). Additionally watch out for tea and garlic. They are the worst for gastric upset.


    Thanks for your comments. Coffee can definitely cause digestive problems like intestinal cramps and diarrhea for some people.

    All the best.


I recently started increasing my decaffeinated coffee and protein intake and my flatulence levels went crazy. Initially I suspected that it was the protein but I noticed even when I had a low protein day or two my flatulence levels still remained the same. Your wise words have given me the information I require to make a positive change to my diet and end the grief associated with high protein and coffee diet.



    Hi Dean and thanks for your comments. Most people wouldn’t associate coffee with flatulence and other digestive problems but as you’ve found giving up coffee can make a big difference. The next page is the start of a small series of posts on exactly how to give up coffee without suffering from withdrawal symptoms –

Kristen Lund

Oy vay, it is too simple, chronic health problems discovered to be due to digestion, digestive issues due to overdependence on coffee. I love knowing and I hate it!


Honestly, this sounds exactly like some of the problems that I think coffee have induced in me. I’ve been all over the place with doctors, and there are no significant (fortunately) intestinal issues.. but the excessive flatulence has really, really, really, bothered me, as well as the bloating and super frequent, unsatisfying bowel movements. Part of the problem is this.. I know I can get through the withdrawl no problem.. I’ve done it many times without a hitch. But how on earth are you supposed to keep your mind alert and energized, when you do such intense mental work? Unfortunately for my profession, drinking coffee is like oxygen.. long hours, and constant mental agility + alterness is necessary. When I give up coffee the tradeoff usually seems to be that I have NO energy.. I become lazy and tired, make potentially dangerous mistakes, because I don’t work a 9-5 where I can get into bed by 10 every day like some people and get enough sleep. I even exercise, but the tiredness I feel without coffee is often too difficult for me to deal with, so I give into this horrible drug that destroys my sensitive digestive system..

Sigh.. I am absolutely willing to accept some of the natural tiredness that may occur and try something new.. like Ginseng tea.. I’m not too hopeful though.


    Hi Dave and thanks for your comments.

    Actually new research is actually showing that it’s not so much that coffee makes you more alert, rather it just brings you back to normal when you’re suffering from brain fog, etc due to caffeine withdrawal. Here’s the study –

    It can take a short while to reset your system but once you do it’s likely that you’ll have more daily alertness with stimulating ginger or peppermint tea or some of these other coffee replacements –

    All the best.


I’m a faithful drinker of coffee for most of my life now. I never thought about all this stuff while drinking it. After reading it explains and makes sense to me now that I clearly am a coffee addict . As of today……. U read this just last night I didn’t even make coffee this morning. I’m on 7 hrs without the coffee…


I try to drink two cups of water with every cup of black, unsweetened coffee I drink. Regarding some of the concerns you had with H. Pyroli, Candida, or other malicious strains, I would presume drinking kefir (loaded with probiotics), along with high amount of fiber daily, would counter that effect. I never drink coffee before any task requiring use of my rational faculties/prefrontal cortex, because I know from personal experience that coffee disrupts my logic sometimes. Since I am young and impulsive, coffee helps me stay sane during excessive exercise and manual labor, although I was never dependent on it for other tasks, like waking up in the morning. I think coffee is like stress, you have to use it only for those activities that it is appropriate for (never daily in my opinion).


In addition to the symptoms listed, I experienced a burning itchy ass. It would hurt so bad that it was hard to walk. It was extremely painful to wash it in the shower.

Even worse, was blood on the toilet paper, probably from hemorrhoids caused by inflammation.

Also constant diarrhea, constantly running to the bathroom.

How many relationships have been destroyed by coffee? It makes you angry, nervous, anxious, prone to explode, and do / say something that could ruin your life.

Not only that, but it yellows the teeth and may also cause ossification (arthritis) because it leaches calcium from the bones.

The caffeine in Tea is different and actually very healthy. However, drinking more cups of tea can have similar effects.

I like a nice mug of hot black tea with milk in the morning. It gives the caffeine fix without the problems of coffee.


    Hi Brandon and thanks for your comments.

    Pumpkin seeds are another good source of zinc and I agree it’s an important nutrient for many health issues, including lowered immunity.


    I heard that adding milk to tea kills the good stuff in the tea.


This morning I had a Starbucks Pike Place roast, around 8:30AM.

At our daily meeting at 10:45, I ripped a foul smelling fart that lingered, had an egg smell to it. I have not eaten eggs for a while.

Then while running errands over lunch, I started ripping these horrid egg farts that burned my ass on the way out. The stench was thick, it didnt reach my nose for several seconds after expelling the gas, but it stuck around for a long time.

Then around 1:00PM, I unleashed a huge torrent of white hot liquid sh1t into the toilet, with the same charismatic odor.

Do you think it was the Starbucks? I cant imagine what I could have eaten recently that would have this effect on me.


    Hi Frank,

    Coffee can cause gastric emptying wherein food leaves the stomach too quickly and isn’t digested properly. Meat and sulfur containing vegetables can then create that ‘rotten egg gas’ smell. It’s quite possibly that the coffee was a trigger but ultimately this is likely due to larger digestion problems. It would be worth considering digestive enzymes with larger meals and perhaps avoiding difficult to digest meals for a while.

    Hope this helps.


Thank you so much for your article. It all makes sense to me. For two months i have been drinking only half a cup with coffee and milk and creamer was the other half. I have a very sensitive stomach, and get heartburn all the time. For a week now, i have been having horrible heartburn and acid reflex and i googled “drinking coffee on an empty stomach” and both heartburn and acid reflex showed up. So there wont be a coffee for me in the morning, which i look so much forward too..

Do you think it will be ok if i drink it once a week after i eat or it will still come back?

Thank you


    Hi Tamar. Thanks for your comments and question and sorry for the late reply (website problems).

    Drinking coffee occasionally after food may lessen symptoms but every time you do you’re starting up the conditions for caffeine addiction again. I’d suggest replacing coffee with teeccino which is quite similar in taste but alkaline rather than acidic – and following this 10 step plan I used for swapping out coffee without withdrawal symptoms –

    Hope this helps.


Too much coffee plus stress in exam time made me sick, n developed into severe gastritis. The article says but the TRUTH!! Coffee shud be taken in limits, in milk, with something to eat. For ppl with sensitive stomach like me… GREEN TEA is the best! its soothing and healthy.


    Hi Misti and thanks for your comments.

    You’re right that caffeine on top of stress usually only makes things much worse, including health issues like gastritis. Green tea is much gentler but it’s still better to not ‘need’ any caffeinated products so you’re not held by the addiction.

    All the best


Thanx alot for this article. Its really helpful & informative. Some things i dint even know before about coffee and its ill effects. Especially drinking coffee empty stomach. Thanks once again.


    Hi Yash and thanks for your positive comments. Appreciate if you get a chance to spread the word by sharing it on social media.

    All the best.


This is true. Coffee will make your stomach produce too much acid. gas too. I noticed a hudge difference in my gerd and ibs and will never drink coffee again. I ve been drinking coffee for over 20 years and finally pinpointed what was triggering my attacks. Took 5 solid days to notice the changes


    Hi there and thanks for your comments. I wonder how many other people are suffering with Gerd and IBS where coffee is at least part of the problem. Glad you managed to pinpoint the problem and I hope these digestive issues are resolving themselves well.

    All the best.


I read your article and agree with you and a lot of your comments make so much sense now. I suffer from H Pylori and have fever 24 hours a day. When I drink coffee the pain is like hell fire! Plus I get joint and shooting pains, when I don’t drink coffee the pain goes away. Coffee is a” bug”ger. I am so addicted to it but I will teach get myself to stop. I stopped smoking for 4 months now I am sure I can do this!


    Hi Susan and thanks for your comments. I’d ditch coffee until you get over your stomach problems. The teeccino in this post tastes similar but is alkalizing and shouldn’t give your stomach problems.

    I’ve also read that fresh cabbage juice (can be had with carrot etc) is particularly good for healing ulcers caused by H Pylori and clears up the problem more effectively than ulcer medication.

    Hope this helps.


Like I said before, my was an avid coffee drinker and still ended up getting colon cancer. Do not rely on coffee to keep you from your check ups or assume that it help.
I loved coffee too, until it caused a whole slew of intestinal problems for me. I have stopped drinking it along with soda and tea. Think I may have an intolerance to caffeine. Finally feeling like myself again. I do miss my morning coffee :(


Found this all very interesting. Have been suffering with tummy trouble for about a year and at first never really put it down to coffee. Have had a few tests for other things and was told I have IBS. Symptoms were getting troublesome, you know constant trips to toilet etc which is highly embarrassing and annoying. Tried switching to decaff but didn’t seem to help at all and so decided to cut out coffee altogether to see what happened. I have not touched coffee for 2 weeks now and my tummy has been a lot better. Awaiting more tests through GP just to be sure but hopefully I have solved the problem. Also to mention I discovered herbal coffee which seems to be ok for me, as does tea.


    Hi Debbie,

    It sounds like the break has done your digestive system good. I’d try fennel tea, which is particularly good for IBS. Teeccino mentioned in the article is another option which tastes like coffee but is alkaline rather than acidic.

    Hope this helps.


Is this article about caffine or just coffee? If I have some sort of protein not being digested right, what can I do to nip the bad gas in the bud? Many teas have caffine…are they bad? Will they hurt my body’s ability to produce hydrochloride acid?


    Hi there,

    Caffeine can have negative effects but tea, and particularly green tea is much gentler and doesn’t seem to be as much of a problem. Additionally, coffee contains certain acids and other compounds beyond caffeine that can cause digestive problems.

    Switching to peppermint or fennel tea, both covered on this site, will usually help digestion rather than impede it.

    All the best.


I usually dont drink coffee but i did this morning and wondered if it has any bad effects on empty stomach. So glad I found this article! It’s really informative aaand, I’m never drinking coffee in the morning anymore. ;)


    Hi Jo-Anne,

    Some people are definitely sensitive to coffee on an empty stomach. Glad the article could help.

    All the best.

bob gibbs

Dear Sir,
I can understand what you are saying but if you are diabetic and laxitives like laxido and lactulose don’t seem to work very well, you are only to pleased to drink an expresso in the morning and get relief from constipation. So many drugs don’t seem to work very well for me, when you find something that does work you grab it with both hands. Coffee is number one for me!


    Hi Bob and thanks for your comments. There’s some health issues with using coffee as a laxative as detailed in this article. I’d consider looking up triphala which is much more effective and beneficial for the gastro-intestinal system.

    All the best.

Dr. Russell Brokstein

Great article. I have been telling patients for years about the negative effects of coffee. From dehydration, to the acidity problems and most of all the caffeine destroys the adrenal glands which throws off the balance of the 4 main important hormones of the body: adrenaline, norepenephrine, cortisol and DHEA. When these hormones are off balance it leads to heart conditions, digestive issues, immune problems, weight problems, diabetes, allergies, joint issues, PMS, menopause, libido problems.. just to name a few.


    Hi Dr. Russell and thanks for your helpful comments. The damage heavy coffee drinking does to the adrenals is an important yet I’d imagine often undiagnosed issue. Once your patients have managed to get off coffee I’d be interested in what you recommend to help rebuild the adrenal glands function.

    All the best.


Thats it!…no more coffee for me. I have been struggling with all these symptoms and enough is enough..
dandilion tea for me!


Hi James, I didn’t tent to come read your article but I did and now I am being anxious about drinking coffee. I rarely drink coffee like 3 times a week. Should I be worried still? Dose the things you mentioned happen with just one cup of coffee? Can we still have some chances to drink it not often?


    Hi Saenal,

    The digestive problems with coffee are more common with regular, several cups a day coffee drinkers. That said, if you are having gastrointestinal issues it could be good to give up coffee for 2 weeks and see if it relieves the problems.

    All the best.


I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes 10 years ago. I also had severe acid reflux (GERD), which was being medicated with a $60/month Nexium prescription.

Once I kicked both gluten and coffee out of my diet – within 24 hours the GERD was gone. Within 4 weeks my diabetic symptoms were also cleared.

I have stuck with this “diet” and never had issues with diabetes or acid reflux ever again.


    Hi Steve and thanks for your comments. That’s quite a dramatic turnaround and it goes to show how damaging those two compounds can be to many people’s digestive system.

    I’m glad ditching caffeine and gluten worked so well for you.


As I sit here at work in the men’s bathroom, doubled over in bloated agony, violently squirting liquid coffee-smelling diarrhea out of myself, I am regretting having that latte half an hour ago. Every day is the same story. Why do I do this to myself? God this hurts so much. If I don’t have coffee, this doesn’t happen. It’s like clockwork. Foamy, brown diarrhea hell clockwork. I start sweating, my stomach feels like a beach ball and diarrhea punctuated by fits of burning hot gas come spraying out of me so hard I am scared I will produce enough thrust to lift off the toilet seat in a fury of uncontrollable brown foam.
It burns, it burns, it burns… My abdominal muscles hurt from the amount of pushing and clenching and heaving. My sphincter feels red raw and I am afraid of the sheer power and violence of my own anus.


Thank you so much more this article. I think this may be the answer to my stomach problems. A year ago I had a bunch if test and blood work and everything came back normal. I try to eat healthy. I’m not perfect, but I watch. I don’t seem to loose weight and in fact I’ve gained. My family is thin and I have never had a weight problem. I get tired more lately in the afternoon and bloated out of the blue and gas pains. I am hoping if I stop drinking coffee I feel normal again.


    Hi Sarah,

    If coffee is elevating your cortisol levels as it does for many this could be behind the weight gain and the article explains the digestive issues. I’d suggest trying the plan to replace it with a similar tasting but alkalizing alternative here: for a few weeks and noticing the difference.

    Hope this helps.


Great article. I used to drink up to 10-15 cups of coffee a day and found that I needed to constantly consume the stuff just to function. I had difficulty getting out of bed, frequent sleep walking until I gave up cold turkey and tried Milicano decaf instead; hardly any difference in taste.

I recently started having a cup in the morning and noticed I was producing gas (sorry!), had a quick look on Google and found your article. I’ll be dropping that one coffee on the morning from now on.

Incidentally, after drinking the caffeine free coffee, I no longer feel lethargic throughout the day, usually rise for 0545 without too much persuasion from the wife and generally feel much better.

Have a great day !!


    Hi Stephen and thanks for your comments.

    I suspect many people would feel much better in the long run if they could shake loose their caffeine addiction. Unfortunately the general media seems even more pro-coffee in recent years (if that’s possible). I’d suggest anyone having similar problems try a couple of weeks caffeine free and see the difference it makes.

    All the best.


Thank you so much. I know now, some of my problems are related to excessive drinking of coffee.

Chad Milczarek

Hi there! Great article, but I have a question for you. When I was in high school, I had IBS D brought on by stress. Bothered me in the morning before school and sometime into class. I was aleays fine on the weekends. Forward to my senior year, I did cyber school because of the IBS and was fine. After high school, I started drinking coffee as a pre workout for the gym, but it gave me diarrea,. Since i worked 2nd shift, I just dealt with it as it passed before work. I figured when I quit my stomach would be better. I drank it a lot for over a year I’d say, but when I quit my stomach wasn’t better! Now two years later, I still have urgent bowel movements everyday, usually soft or diarrea, multiple times a day. Also, I think because of the coffee I developed food allergies. I can no longer have dairy, and greasy foods bother me. Do you think the coffee just killed all my good bacteria and enzymes? This is reallh getting hard to live with. Thanks for your time.


    Hi Chad,

    Usually after giving up the substance that is causing the issue the digestive system should improve.

    The intestinal environment can be built back up with good probiotics. I’d suggest taking those and trying 2 weeks of grain free meals made primarliy from healthy protein sources and mixed vegetables. Gluten is a common cause of this problem and the levels of it in grain based processed foods have increased significantly in recent years.

    I know grains are in a lot of products but if you can try two weeks of meals like eggs or avocado for breakfast and a healthy protein like salmon, organic chicken etc with mixed vegetables for lunch and dinner I’d be very surprised if it didn’t improve your digestive issues. You could then try reintroducing certain grain products to pinpoint the culprit and decide whether the effects are worth it.

    Hope this helps.


It is a eye opener, but I am not sure if coffee can be the constant rise of blood pressure I am experiencing lately.

Would love to know?


    Hi there,

    This study – concludes that “…on average, coffee drinking was associated with a 2.4 mm Hg higher systolic blood pressure and 1.2 mm Hg higher diastolic blood pressure”.

    I’d suggest trying 2 weeks without coffee and seeing if your blood pressure goes down. Here’s how I gave it up a while back with a similar tasting but healthier drink that wouldn’t affect your blood pressure –

    Hope this helps.


Thank you James for your great article, but even moreso answering so many responses. I now understand clearly why I feel like crap so often. I will take your advise! Gratefully Tim


I did notice that after drinking coffee, I feel a slight pain in my stomach; although not always but it alarms me. In fact, I felt this slight pain now that’s why I’m searching about this online. I didn’t experience this with tea.

Adam Jones

Great article. I’m experimenting with grinding the coffee a lot coarser and then letting it steep in a thermal carafe for about 5-10 minutes. Then I pour it through a filter in a basic Mr. Coffee. I’ve found it helps to reduce or even eliminate a lot of the digestive problems it can cause. My theory is that the majority of the digestive problems arise from the physically abrasive characteristics of coffee made in the typical way. This method gives you the improved quality of a French press with out the grounds in the coffee. The coffee tastes better (smoother) too and the effects are more interesting. Of course, we’re probably ‘better off’ with out coffee but I’m finding that changing the brewing method substantially reduces the negative effects. I also recommend using a light to medium light roast. You want to preserve the oils in the bean. Dark roasting ‘leaches’ the oils out and also has less caffeine.


    Hi Adam and thanks for your comments.

    This may help for some people who only occasionally have symptoms. Some people though do seem to have gotten to a point where any coffee is affecting them negatively. Perhaps if they really can’t give up coffee this method would be good to try.

    All the best,



I used to be able to drink coffee without any discomfort (up to 3-4 cups, anyway), but check this out: I start feeling like I have an upset/hungry stomach before I even *drink* it. All I have to do is smell coffee, and suddenly I have to take a dump. What gives? Is a lot of this psychological, as I never had coffee indigestion before developing chronic anxiety 4 years ago, or is there something in the aroma of the beans alone that triggers a reaction? There are days when I drink coffee multiple times a day — on vacation, for example — with absolutely no ill effects. On an empty stomach, even. Set and setting?

-Confused Defiant Coffee Drinker


    Hi there,

    That is quite an extreme reaction. I wouldn’t know what is causing it but it seems really worth looking at alternatives, perhaps the similar tasting but non laxative teeccino mentioned in the article.

    All the best,



If someone wants to continue drinking coffee, there is a good hedge for it. While your article provides details that match up to some of the digestive problems I’ve been having, I’ve started taking unpasteurized unfiltered apple cider vinegar. It restores alkaline & the pH level in the body, and is a great asset to the digestive system. I do believe we are better off without coffee like you pointed out, but this way the negative effects of coffee can be minimized if just having 1 cup in a day. Thank you very much for the information in this article though, it helps alot. The bloating and the loss of nutrients certainly isn’t fun.


    Hi Patrick and thanks for your comments. I agree that apple cider vinegar before could help to minimize some of coffee’s acidic effects. Perhaps diluted ACV would be even better as a replacement for the morning java.

    All the best,



When I drink coffee. I have to use the washroom more and my stomach acts u . It is annoying .

Richard H

I have several of the problems you mention, so maybe I will just stop drinking coffee. Would taking caffeine tabs wake me up without the coffee-related digestive problems? BTW, what are your credentials? Thanks.


    Hi Richard,

    Caffeine can have issues of its own, particularly on the nervous and circulatory systems, but it seems the acids and other compounds in coffee itself are responsible for the majority of the digestive health problems with coffee.

    All the best,



and I finally got to the point where I had so and I finally got to the point where I had so much anxiety and problems with IBS that I decided to quit. After all the headaches went away and I got some of my energy back the first thing I noticed as I actually felt physically stronger and I also knows that my IBS or my liquid stools went away and everything became solid. I just can’t wait to see what happens on week three and four to see how much thing I just can’t wait to see what happens on week 3 & 4 to see how much things improve. I think coffee was robbing my body of what it needed.


    Hi John and thanks for your comments.

    That makes sense as in these situations you’re not absorbing minerals and other nutrients your body needs.

    I get a lot of messages from people defending coffee as ‘perfectly fine’ but just because one person can currently handle it without obvious symptoms doesn’t mean it isn’t damaging for another.

    Glad you found out what was causing your IBS and I’d expect your health will continue to improve from here.

    All the best,



I used to drink a lot of coffee until I started having the intestinal cramps and diarrhea. At it’s worst, these would be accompanied by plummeting blood pressure, tunnel vision, cold chills, and rarely, bloody diarrhea. This usually happens within half an hour of consumption, sometimes in only a few minutes. Caffiene does not appear to be the cause as I drink quite a lot of black tea with no problems. However, I get these same symptoms from red chile, in any form, even as mild as paprika or common chili powder. I’ve often wondered if they share some chemical but haven’t ever been able to find a link. I still love coffee and will risk a cup a couple of times a year, and this is what I have learned: The coffee isn’t nearly as big a problem as the residue it leaves behind. Tea made from a coffeemaker smelling of coffee gives me the same symptoms, while a cup of coffee from a very clean source such as a high end coffee machine in a restaurant where the equipment is relentlessly spotless does not. I just wanted to share that as it might help someone.


    Hi Michele,

    I wish people who write in saying that coffee doesn’t ever cause problems could read messages like yours. It sounds like it’s really worth avoiding for you.

    I’m not aware of any common chemical between coffee and chili but they are both stimulants that can affect your adrenal glands so an issue with these may be worth investigating.

    All the best,



Dear all, Greetings,
Since six months I was suffering with stomach ache, I did ultra sound xrays Dr given me antibiotics for one months dose, I took without fail, after completing one month on medicine there is no difference, then I visited ayurveda I Took another month medicine, no use, I was feeling horrible pain, visited Dr he gave me some tabs, when my wife Google luckily she came across your article and ask me to stop coffee, now I feel the reason of pain when I stopped coffees,
Surprisingly no Dr told me this simple things, where as I spent so much in test and medicine.
Thanks to all. Specially James.


    Thanks Sunny,

    Yes I’ve heard of many situations like this. Unfortunately most doctors rely on their coffee to work long shifts, as do the researchers publishing the positive studies about it. These days to say that people can have digestive problems with coffee is almost sacrilege but reading on heath forums and the many comments here it seems that it is affecting a fair percentage of people, whether they are aware of it or not.

    I’m glad you found that coffee was the source of your stomach pain. If you want a similar tasting but alkaline and healthy alternative have a read of this article

    All the best,



Hi Peggy,

It’s worth giving coffee a break for a while and seeing if your symptoms improve. This is the exact method I used to replace it with healthier alternatives while avoiding withdrawal symptoms

Hope this helps,



Hi there,

That’s unusual as they share no ingredients or compounds that could cause this that I am aware of. The hot water is about the only similarity.

Still, everyone is different so if you are experiencing this then hopefully some of the other alternatives here would work

All the best,


William Jones

I am just curious. All the information given is awesome, but I am left wondering if there are differences between different coffee level intakes. Any info on that?


    Hi William and thanks for your comments.

    It seems to be completely dependant on the individual. Some in the comments here and other forums experience intestinal problems with coffee with even the occasional cup whereas others only have abdominal pain when they have larger amounts several times a day, it can even vary greatly from day to day. Organic coffee vs regular could help as well as pesticide residue may contribute to digestive issues.

    The best advice would be to be aware of the potential for problems and if you would like to see how you feel with a week or two break from coffee here’s a simple way to do it

    Hope this helps,



Great article! I’m probably going to quit, although perhaps every month or so I’ll have a cup, for that kick you get after not having it for so long.
So the withdrawal symptoms aren’t really that harsh, I’ve had them before. I wonder if I can instead remove 1/4 of a cup every couple of days and be done with it in a week with less noticeable withdrawal.


I have coeliac disease and stopped drinking coffee for years as I felt terrible; stomach cramps, needing the toilet often etc etc. But recently we have a new coffee machine and I started drinking it again, but only after a meal and only 1-3 cups per week. No problems. However, Tea makes me feel terrible for several days. Mind fog and lethargy mostly, and in the past it gave me a bad stomach, flatulence. I love coffee and have tried alternatives such as Dandelion coffee, but its just not the same. The complex tones and richness of coffee is a taste exploration. Everything in moderation I say, but everyone is different and to know yourself, to buy organic when possible and reduce most of the convenience and highly refined foods, then one should lead a healthy life.


    Hi Paul and thanks for your comments.

    I agree that everyone is different and many people obviously feel that they tolerate coffee, particularly in smaller amounts. Others though are experiencing negative consequences of drinking coffee but are perhaps unaware it’s the culprit.

    With all the cheerleading press coffee gets I felt a resource that highlighted how coffee can cause digestive problems was needed. Organic coffee does seem to help for many so possibly pesticides are another factor as coffee is known to be one of the most heavily sprayed crops.

    All the best,



Hi Iny,

it’s up to you of course but if you did decide to give up coffee then the method I used might help

All the best,



I am worried for both effects of nervous and digestive system for last 10 days due to my new habit of consuming more coffee in my new office.

I was wandering to know the reasons, finally what ever mentioned here is match with me. I will stop having coffee in future.

Thanks to James.


I realize that this article is probably a few years old. However, I had given up coffee about a month ago and I didn’t have anymore bad symptoms. Yet today, I drank my first cup (and then half of another) and I feel horrible. I wanted the caffeine because my daughter had me up off and on last night. Yet after drinking the second half cup, I feel horrible. My stomach hurts and I had to go potty with cramps acting up. I finally get that coffee might not be the best for me. And this article made sense as to why. So thank you for the insight.


    Thanks for your positive comments. This article is still popular I think because so few other resources dare to say anything negative about coffee, particularly related to digestion, despite many people obviously suffering from it.

    All the best,



A chronic coffee drinker for 20 years, I’ve been taking Prilosec for chronic heartburn ( Barrett’s ) for the last 10 years, if I miss one dose my heartburn returns with a vengeance. Since stopping drinking coffee and switched to a max of 2 cups of berry flavored green tea a day my heart burn is almost completely gone. No Prilosec for 5 days now and feel great, along with a better mood and energy lasts more through out the day.


Hi there , I found your article very helpful and I’m done !! I’m done with coffee ,,, I love it but I love my health more ,, and the last four days have been hell and iv been putting of going to the doctor because after a few hours I feel fine again ,, but today has been the final straw ,, iv been putting it all together and coffee is the link ,, today iv been feeling ok till I had a protein shake that had coffee in it , and I’m now ten min after stomach is blown up like I’m six months pregnant , its really sore and a tightness of pain , plus I feel light headed no energy and can feel a slight ache coming in my head , I right now this min an drained and wanna cry !! Sorry that a big off load but as iv said I’m done with coffee , I suffer with a form of ibs and a gluten sensitivity and never triggered coffee to be a problem ,, I think you hit the nail on the head !!! ,, I hope anyone else that reads this might find the symptoms of help , cause iv been googling like mad , but this make sence


    Hi Suzanne,

    When you’re suffering this much with something it’s just not worth it. Hopefully giving your digestive system a good break can help it to heal. There’s a similar tasting yet alkaline alternative in this article

    Hope this helps,


Debra Zwilling

I drink one cup of decaf in the morning and have all the symptoms you described. However, when I drink iced decaf it is much worse. Why is that


    Hi Debra,

    As mentioned in the article, the various acids in coffee tend to cause these problems, not just the caffeine.

    As for the ice coffee, very cold liquids can also digestive system so this may just be compounding the problem.

    There’s some similar tasting alkaline alternatives here

    All the best,


Em Stoney

This is really helpful..thank you..


Hi Kaidy,

Yes it can unfortunately. I’d try taking a week off and keeping track of how your stomach pain is daily. Here’s how I did it without withdrawal symptoms and with a similar tasting alternative

All the best,


Leo Dougherty

Call me a follower, but I only needed 1 reason to join you, and all these fine folks who choose to(o?) also. As I suffer from multiple neuromuscular diseases, doing something this easy (for me) to help my situations is a NO BRAINER. I was able to quit smoking and drinking w/ NO problems, coffee should be a breeze! (1 would think) THANK YOU for the info, SO MUCH!!


Thank you for the article.. I have noticed that the pain in my left side(probably my intestine)has went away when I stopped drinking coffee for 3dayd. I drank one yesterday and the pain seemed to slightly come back.. I am almost positive it was doing something to my intestines and it does work as a fast laxative for me so I have to be careful if there is no restrooms available..


    Hi Nikki,

    Sounds like your digestive system isn’t agreeing with coffee. There’s a similar tasting but alkaline alternative that won’t cause the same sort of problems in this article

    All the best,



I am amazed by the info I have learned from your article. I’ve been suffering alot from diarrhea and couldn’t figure out why. This article has really opened my eyes. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!


Thanks so much for this informative article. I have been an “all day, every day” coffee drinker for years and have suffered from diarrhea and stomach pain. So, last Friday I gave up coffee! I’ve been feeling a little better (aside from withdrawal symptoms) but I was wondering how long it takes for digestion to get back too normal?


    Hi there and thanks for your positive comments.

    Every day should be better but the more natural and less processed foods you can have the quicker it should heal. If you need extra support with this there’s the method I used here

    All the best,



This article makes a lot of sense. My husband was drinking way too much coffee and wondered why he’d have to run to the bathroom most of the time within 30 minutes of drinking it. He also noticed it would really be painful and he called it the consistency of applesauce. He did not have a solid bowel movement until after he stopped drinking coffee for about 10 days. He feels a lot better in his gastrointestinal health and is not running to the bathroom (and sometimes barely making it). He has switched to a Chai Tea and I can’t say he will stop coffee completely going forward but he has for now and will view it as an occasional treat now instead of a 3-4 cup per day habit.


    Hi Sabrina,

    Yes coffee can definitely cause these kind of gastrointestinal problems, especially in larger amounts. He could also consider the coffee tasting yet healthier alternative in this article

    All the best,



I just ate dinner in a restaurant and had a 2nd cup of coffee…(I rarely have a 2nd cup). My son had just bought a new car and he took me to dinner as I co-signed for him. After having dinner, we were on a highway (somewhat in the country, but still driven on to get from one town to the next) and I had to SUDDENLY go! I quickly told him pull over NOW……..long story short, had to have someone bring us a big blanket to be able to wrap around me in my daughter’s SUV to get me home that was about 6 miles away. Whew…what a day it’s been! Yeah I’m sure it was the 2nd cup of coffee…my first cup is when I’m home and its instant coffee..but out its percolated. I’ve now learned that when I have to be out in public or go to dinner to take 2 anti-diarrheal pills to be on the safe side…I NEVER want to experience being on Route 481 and having to become embarrassed like I was. With about a hundred cars going by me and wondering what happened….ugh!


    Hi Terry,

    That must have been very bad but really shows the dramatic effect coffee can have on your digestive system.

    All the best,


Andrew Kirkman

Hi I was drinking monster about 4 weeks ago for two weeks whilst I was on a Cscs training course, now four weeks later I’m getting bad headaches, and really bad stomach cramps, bean to doctor n they said it’s cos I’ve got acid in my tummy from drinking them jw how long it’ll be before I feel better :/ xx


    Hi Andrew,

    It may help to eat more alkaline vegetables like carrots, cucumbers, celery and greens or fruits like banana and melons.

    All the best,




Well what can I say. I’m researching my GERD. I don’t believe I have a hernia as my Dr was quick to ‘agree with me’ on, but after a LOT of research ans cutting carbs out, I’m on day 6 without Omeprazole.
Having said that, I had a ‘nice’ cup of decaff after a night out (no alcohol, I don’t drink) and went to bed. I wasn’t in bed 5 minutes before I had the most horrendous gnawing pain in my right side, and after the ensuing panic had passed, figured it was that damned coffee on an empty stomach. It’s gone right down and rattled my poor struggling but recovering gut. I must say it took a bit of time before I figured it out, firstly blaming the GERD.
My point? I think coffee is a root cause of my GERD, I have done for a while. I just remember the last time I quit. This article has done me good. Thanks :)


    Thanks Jo and glad you were able to find the source of your GERD. It does surprise me though that more doctors don’t suggest a week off to see if it helps patients.

    All the best,



stomach wind periods pains


I suffered with intestinal cramping for over 20 years, I was only on average a large cup of coffee a day. Went to the gastroenterologist, had many other tests done. They couldn’t find anything. I just popped pain meds for years, accepting the pain. My regular doc retired, and I mentioned the pain to my new doc, not really expecting him to help me. He said stop drinking coffee and see how that works. In like two days I felt way better, wasn’t getting the daily cramping! Yay! I will never drink coffee again!


    Hi Sandra,

    It’s good you finally found the cause but sad that it took so long. I wonder whether alot of doctors like it so much themselves they can’t bring themselves to think of coffee as a cause of gastrointestinal problems. I’d always recommend a second or third option when you’re not getting to the source of the problem.

    All the best,


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