Is coffee bad for gut health?

It depends. Coffee is one of the most hotly debated food items when it comes to health, especially gut health. You hear about coffee so often in the news and it leaves many people are wondering if they should give it up or drink more of it. 


Coffee is one of the most beloved and requested drinks by my clients. Whether it’s for the caffeine or the ritual of having a hot cup of joe in the mornings coffee can be a big part of people’s lives. This is why when it comes to giving up coffee it’s not exactly a super exciting though because coffee can be an integral part of people’s days and it’s more than just a hot beverage.

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How does coffee affect our gut?

The degree to which coffee affects our gut health is dependent person to person and there are a couple of ways to how coffee can make our gut not so happy.

Coffee does stimulate gastric juices but that’s not the whole story.

Coffee does affect our stomach by triggering the release of gastric juices, like our stomach acid.  This is partly the reason that coffee is often one of the first foods that health professionals will tell you to omit coffee from your diet if you have gut problems like IBS or heartburn.  It’s not just coffee that can affect our stomach this way but other beverages too, for instance, wine.

There is also new research that shows coffee might release our stomach acid because of the bitter taste affecting our taste buds. On the other hand, other research shows that there are other compounds in coffee that might prevent the release of our stomach acid. 

Long story short, coffee’s effect on our body is complex.  While there is differing research out there, drinking coffee when you have IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), acid reflux, or a sensitive stomach is likely to irritate your gut.   

Coffee and pooping.

Coffee does stimulate our colon which can be why coffee makes you poop.  Decaf coffee is less stimulating than regular coffee so it has less of an effect on our colon.  In my practice I have seen people react to coffee in different ways. For some coffee makes them poop while for others it makes them constipated or they can drink it with no effect on their guts at all.

Coffee grounds could be a prebiotic food.

There could be potential for coffee being a gut friendly food. A new study was released that took used coffee grounds and fermented them in a test tube with human poop. The results of their study showed that the coffee grounds actually helped grow some of the good types of gut bacteria found in our poop making coffee a possible prebiotic food. (Prebiotics are foods that feed our gut bacteria) The coffee grounds didn’t have a beneficial effect on all types of our good gut bacteria so there while the potential of coffee being beneficial for our gut bacteria there is still more research needed.

Some things to think about if you suspect coffee is a problem.

Coffee is more than just caffeine. 

Coffee contains many compounds and caffeine is just one of them. Sometimes the issue might be with coffee as a whole and sometimes it might be more of a caffeine issue. Experiment with decaf to try and see if caffeine is more of the problem.

It could be the creamer and not the coffee.

What you put in our coffee could be the real reason your gut isn’t happy. The problem might not be the coffee or caffeine but what you put in it.  The addition of milk (cows milk or even nut milks like almond), sugar, or flavorings like cinnamon could be the real irritants to your gut.

Watch how big your coffee cup is. 

Sometimes coffee is better tolerated when you only have a small cup in the morning and that’s it. Everyone’s tolerance is different so experiment with a smaller amount of coffee and/or experiment with reducing how many cups of coffee you have a day.

 Quality matters. 

This goes for coffee or any food really. A good quality coffee might also help with reducing symptoms. 

Go for a cold brew instead.

Because coffee acids are better extracted at high temperatures, cold brew can be up to 60% less acidic than hot brewed coffee. Many people love the smoother, sweeter flavor of cold brew. Since fewer acids are extracted than from a typical heated brewing process, it doesn’t have the same bitter bite to it that can be off-putting for some.

Choose a clean & healthy coffee

A heaping spoonful of low quality instant coffee, or the coffee you might buy at most gas stations, will likely use the cheapest, lowest quality coffee beans (usually selected based on price alone). These beans may contain a higher ratio of bean defects (such as insect damage, over-fermented, and oxidized) and higher levels of mold. Plus, the coffee will could be stale. Many of the benefits of the coffee compounds will still be present, but so will toxins and chemicals that can create adverse health effects.

It is best to find a coffee that’s tested to be free of contaminants, like Purity Coffee

Purity Coffee is the only coffee that is produced with health as the top consideration. Every step of the way, from organically grown plants to fresh, nitrogen-flushed bags, they make sure the coffee is pure and clean. Not only is Purity Coffee free of contaminants, but it is roasted to have the highest concentration of antioxidants and the lowest risk of carcinogenic compounds. You can be confident that your health is in good hands when you brew Purity Coffee at any temperature.

Start cooking with coffee…

Coffee isn’t just for drinking, try cooking with it! Use the grounds in anything from baked goods, smoothies, energy bites, or [combine with dried herbs] as a coating for steak or fish.

Here are a few delicious coffee recipes for you to try. 

Ultimate Energy Bites

  • 1  1/2 cup pecans, raw

  • 4 medjool dates, pitted

  • 1 Tbs chia seeds

  • 1 tsp Purity coffee beans, ground

  • 1 tsp cocoa powder

  • 2 Tbs coconut oil, unsweetened

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • salt to taste


  1. Add pecans to food processor and pulse until finely ground.

  2. Add rest of ingredients and process until combined.

  3. Roll into 12 bites [serving size = 1 bite].

  4. Refrigerate until firm then dust with cocoa powder if desired.

Salted Caramel Latte Smoothie

  • 1 banana, frozen

  • 1 cup Purity coffee, brewed, chilled or frozen into ice cubes (see notes)

  • 1 cup almond milk, unsweetened

  • 1 Tbsp cocoa powder, unsweetened

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • 3 medjool dates, pitted

  • 1/8 tsp salt

  • 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed


  1. Brew coffee and chill or place in ice cube trays and freeze.

  2. Place all ingredients in blender and process until smooth and creamy. Add ice cubes as desired.

Vegan Coffee Bean Cashew Butter

  • 2 cup cashews, raw, soaked

  • 1 Tbsp Purity coffee beans, ground

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • salt, to taste

  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup


  1. Place cashews in bowl and cover with hot water. Let stand for at least 1 hour or overnight.

  2. Add all ingredients in food processor and process until smooth and creamy.

  3. Enjoy with sliced apple [our favorite!]

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