Why Does Drinking Coffee Make Me Nauseous?






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Drinking coffee is a daily ritual for millions of people worldwide. It’s an easy way to start the day, stay alert, and beat the afternoon slump. However, for some, enjoying a cup of coffee comes with side effects, such as nausea. If you find yourself feeling queasy or sick after drinking coffee, you’re not alone. Nausea can be a common reaction to coffee, and it can be caused by several factors, ranging from sensitivity to caffeine, acidity, or simply overconsumption. In this article, we will explore the different reasons why drinking coffee can make you feel nauseous and suggest some tips on how to prevent it. Whether you’re a coffee lover or just starting to experiment with it, understanding the science behind coffee-induced nausea can help you make informed choices and enjoy your favorite drink without discomfort. So, let’s dive in and explore this fascinating topic together.

Understanding the Science behind Coffee and Nausea

What Causes Nausea after Drinking Coffee?

If you’re one of those people who experience nausea after drinking coffee, you may be wondering what causes this discomfort. The answer lies in the chemical composition of coffee. Coffee contains caffeine, a stimulant that has an impact on your digestive system.

When you drink coffee, caffeine stimulates the release of gastric acid in your stomach. This can cause irritation to the lining of your stomach and lead to feelings of nausea. Additionally, caffeine has been shown to increase contractions in your digestive tract, which can also contribute to feelings of discomfort.

How Does Caffeine Affect Your Body?

Caffeine is a stimulant that affects various parts of your body when consumed. It works by blocking adenosine receptors in your brain, which are responsible for making you feel sleepy and tired.

By blocking these receptors, caffeine increases levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in your brain. These chemicals increase alertness and make you feel more awake.

However, these same effects can also lead to side effects such as jitters or nervousness if too much caffeine is consumed. In addition, high doses can cause gastrointestinal problems such as cramps or nausea.

Can Coffee Acidity Contribute to Nausea?

Another factor that may contribute to nausea when drinking coffee is its acidity level. The pH level of regular brewed coffee ranges from 4-5 (acidic), with darker roasts having lower pH levels compared to lighter roasts.

Acidic drinks have been shown to irritate the lining of the stomach and esophagus leading to symptoms like heartburn or indigestion.

For some people who already have underlying gastrointestinal conditions like GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) or ulcers – consuming acidic foods/drinks could worsen their symptoms leading them feeling nauseous.

How Do You Reduce Nausea from Drinking Coffee?

If you’re experiencing nausea after drinking coffee, there are a few things you can do to alleviate this discomfort.

Firstly, try reducing your caffeine intake. Consider switching to decaf or gradually reducing the amount of caffeine in your coffee until you find a level that works for you.

Another option is to try drinking coffee with food. This can help to slow down the absorption of caffeine and reduce its impact on your digestive system.

Finally, consider trying different types of coffee. Lighter roasts tend to be less acidic than darker roasts and may be easier on your stomach.

Exploring the Differences between Regular and Decaf Coffee

Reducing caffeine intake, switching to decaf or low-acid coffee, drinking water before and after consuming coffee, and consuming food with your coffee can all help alleviate nausea from drinking coffee. Caffeine sensitivity, acidity, and underlying health conditions like GERD, ulcers, celiac disease, and migraines can also contribute to coffee-induced nausea. Understanding the science behind coffee and how it affects your body can help you make informed choices and enjoy your favorite drink without discomfort.

What is Decaf Coffee?

Decaf coffee, as the name suggests, is coffee that has had most of its caffeine removed. This is done through a process called decaffeination, which involves removing caffeine from green coffee beans before they are roasted.

There are different methods of decaffeination available such as solvent-based (methylene chloride or ethyl acetate), water-based or carbon dioxide-based processes. Each method has its own pros and cons in terms of taste, cost and environmental impact.

The amount of caffeine that remains in decaf coffee can vary depending on the method used to remove it – typically ranging from 0-7 milligrams per 8-ounce cup compared to regular brews’ ~95 mg per cup.

Does Decaf Coffee Cause Nausea?

While some people may experience nausea after drinking regular coffee due to its high caffeine content or acidity levels, it is less likely for them to experience it when consuming decaf coffee given their lower levels.

However, it’s important to note that decaf coffee still contains small amounts of caffeine – so if you’re extremely sensitive to caffeine you might still feel some side effects like jitters or anxiety even with low amounts consumed.

How does Decaf Coffee Taste Compared to Regular?

One common misconception about decaf coffee is that it tastes drastically different than regular. However this depends on factors like roast level and quality/origin/processing methods used for beans — not necessarily just because they are “decaffeinated”.

Most specialty roasters offer a variety of blends for their customers including both caffeinated and non-caffeinated options without compromising taste/flavour profile.

In general though – there can be slight differences observed between how each type tastes due in part due to roasting techniques.

For example:
– Some people report finding a slightly bitter aftertaste with certain types of decaf coffee.
– Others report a slightly “flat” taste in decaf coffee, lacking the “kick” of caffeine.

Benefits of Drinking Decaf Coffee

While some people may choose decaf coffee purely based on their sensitivity or intolerance to caffeine, others prefer it for various reasons. There are also some possible health benefits associated with drinking decaf coffee including:

  1. Lowered risk of heart disease: Some studies have found that consuming decaf coffee can lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease.

  2. Reduced anxiety: Decaf coffee can still provide the comforting ritual and aroma that comes with drinking a cup even when you don’t want too much caffeine stimulating your nervous system.

  3. Less impact on sleep cycle: Consuming too much caffeine throughout the day can lead to difficulty sleeping at night which in turn impacts mood stability and energy levels during waking hours.

Is Decaf Coffee Right for You?

Whether or not you should switch to decaf depends largely on your individual needs/preferences/biology. Some people find that they simply cannot tolerate regular brewed due to its high levels of acidity and/or caffeine while others prefer having a lower-stimulant option available.

If you’re experiencing nausea after drinking regular coffee, switching to decaf could be worth considering as it is less likely to cause this symptom given its lower levels/absence of caffeine content.

However – if you’re sensitive or intolerant towards specific chemicals found within green beans like chlorogenic acids (which contribute largely towards bitterness) then switching may not offer any relief from nauseous feelings.

The Role of Caffeine Sensitivity in Nausea

To alleviate nausea from drinking coffee, it is important to understand the science behind it. Coffee contains caffeine, which stimulates the release of gastric acid and can irritate the stomach lining, leading to discomfort. Additionally, coffee’s acidity levels can contribute to nausea. To reduce these symptoms, one can switch to decaf or low-acid coffee, limit caffeine intake, drink water before and after consuming coffee, or consume food with the coffee to slow down caffeine absorption. If symptoms persist, it’s best to seek medical attention as it could be a sign of an underlying health condition.

What is Caffeine Sensitivity?

Caffeine sensitivity refers to an individual’s ability to tolerate caffeine. Some people can consume large amounts of caffeine without experiencing any negative side effects, while others may experience symptoms such as jitters, anxiety, or nausea after consuming even small amounts.

The degree of caffeine sensitivity varies from person to person and can be influenced by factors such as age, sex, genetics and lifestyle habits (alcohol/smoking etc).

How Does Caffeine Sensitivity Impact Nausea?

For those who are sensitive to caffeine – drinking coffee can lead to feelings of nausea. This is because caffeine stimulates the release of gastric acid in your stomach which irritates the lining leading to discomfort.

Additionally – some people with a lower tolerance for stimulants like caffeine might also experience other related symptoms like headaches or migraines after consuming too much.

How Can You Determine Your Own Caffeine Tolerance Level?

Determining your own level of tolerance towards this chemical compound involves monitoring how you feel both physically and mentally after consuming it over time.

One way you could do this is by gradually increasing the amount consumed each day starting with small doses before moving onto higher ones. This will help identify your threshold levels for tolerating consumption without feeling ill effects.

Another strategy would be tracking how long it takes for you specifically to metabolize/eliminate excess amounts from within your system (usually around 4-6 hours). If high doses are consumed close together i.e 3 cups within an hour – it increases chances that they will stack up on one another leading towards nauseous feelings.

Coping Strategies if You Have Low Tolerance Towards Caffeine

If you’re someone who experiences nausea when drinking coffee due to a low tolerance for caffeine there are several things that you can do:

  1. Reduce Your Coffee Intake: If you’re experiencing nausea after drinking coffee, consider reducing your intake and switching to decaf or other low-caffeine alternatives.

  2. Opt for Lighter Roasts: Lighter roasts generally contain less caffeine than darker roasts, so if you’re looking for a lower-caffeine option that still tastes like coffee, opt for a lighter roast.

  3. Drink Water: Drinking water before or after consuming any caffeinated beverages can help dilute the impact of caffeine on your body while also keeping you hydrated.

  4. Consider Supplements: Some people find that taking supplements such as magnesium or B vitamins may help alleviate symptoms of caffeine sensitivity (headaches/mood swings etc) and stomach irritation.

When to Seek Professional Medical Help

While occasional nausea after drinking coffee is not typically cause for concern – recurring episodes could signify underlying issues such as gastrointestinal disorders (GERD/IBS/Celiac) which require professional medical attention.

If the feeling persists over time despite changes in dietary habits or medication use – it’s best to get it evaluated by a licensed healthcare provider who can conduct further tests/examinations depending on individual circumstances.

Potential Health Issues Related to Nausea from Coffee Consumption

To reduce nausea from drinking coffee, consider switching to decaf or low-acid coffee, limiting your caffeine intake, drinking water before and after consuming coffee, and consuming food with your coffee. Nausea from drinking coffee can be caused by factors such as sensitivity to caffeine and acidity, as well as underlying health conditions like GERD and ulcers. Understanding the science behind coffee-induced nausea can help you make informed choices and enjoy your coffee without discomfort. If the symptoms persist, seek professional medical help.

Can Nausea from Coffee be a Sign of an Underlying Health Condition?

While occasional nausea after drinking coffee is common and not typically cause for concern, recurring episodes could be a sign of underlying health conditions such as gastrointestinal disorders (GERD/IBS/Celiac etc).

If you experience persistent nausea or other symptoms like heartburn, abdominal pain or diarrhea after drinking coffee, it’s best to consult with a healthcare professional who can evaluate if any further testing is required.

GERD and Acid Reflux

One condition that could contribute towards feeling nauseous after consuming regular brewed would be GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).

GERD occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) doesn’t function properly – allowing stomach acid to flow back up into your esophagus. This can cause irritation in your throat leading towards feelings of discomfort including nausea.

Coffee has been shown previously to relax the LES leading towards increased likelihood of experiencing these symptoms in some people.


Ulcers are open sores that develop on the lining of your stomach or small intestine due to various factors including infection with H. pylori bacteria and/or excessive use of NSAIDs/painkillers.

Consuming acidic foods/drinks like regular brewed coffee can exacerbate ulcers – making them more painful & difficult to heal over time.

Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder where gluten consumption causes inflammation within one’s digestive system – leading towards damage within small intestines/intestinal lining.

Some people with celiac disease may also have sensitivity towards caffeine which could exacerbate their symptoms especially if they’re already dealing with issues like malabsorption, bloating/cramping etc.


Migraines are severe headaches that can cause intense pain along with other associated symptoms such as light/sound sensitivity, nausea and vomiting.

Caffeine has been shown to both trigger and provide relief from migraines depending on individual sensitivity levels. Some people may find that consuming caffeine in small amounts can help alleviate their symptoms, while others may experience a worsening of symptoms like nausea.

What You Can Do to Help Alleviate Health Issues Related to Nausea

If you’re experiencing nausea after drinking coffee due to an underlying health condition, there are several things you can do:

  1. Reduce Coffee Intake: Limiting the amount of coffee or other caffeinated beverages consumed throughout the day can help reduce the impact on your digestive system.

  2. Change Your Coffee Habits: Consider switching to decaf or low-acid coffees if regular brews are contributing towards irritation within your stomach lining

  3. Seek Professional Medical Help: If your symptoms persist even with changes made towards intake habits – it’s best to get evaluated by a licensed healthcare provider who can conduct further tests/examinations depending on individual circumstances.

Practical Solutions for Reducing Nausea from Drinking Coffee

Switch to Decaf or Low-Acid Coffee

One of the easiest ways to reduce nausea from coffee consumption is to switch to decaf or low-acid coffee. This will help reduce the amount of caffeine and acidity that you’re consuming, which can irritate your stomach lining.

Low-acid coffee options include Sumatra, Brazil and Colombia varieties among others which tend towards a smoother flavour profile with less bitterness.

Limit Your Caffeine Intake

Reducing your overall caffeine intake can also help alleviate nausea symptoms. Consider limiting your daily intake to one or two cups per day, instead of multiple cups throughout the day.

If you find it difficult to cut back on caffeine all at once – try gradually reducing your consumption levels over time until you reach a level that works for you.

Drink Water Before and After Consuming Coffee

Drinking water before and after consuming coffee can help dilute its impact on your digestive system while keeping you hydrated. This will also help flush out any excess acid in your stomach that may be contributing towards feelings of discomfort.

Consume Food with Your Coffee


What causes nausea when drinking coffee?

Nausea from drinking coffee is a common side effect experienced by many people. The most common cause of this is the caffeine content in coffee, which can irritate the stomach lining and cause nausea. In addition to this, other compounds in coffee, such as acids and oils, can also contribute to feelings of nausea. Drinking coffee on an empty stomach, or consuming large amounts of coffee at once, can also increase the likelihood of experiencing nausea.

Can coffee cause acid reflux and nausea?

Yes, coffee can cause both acid reflux and nausea. The high acidity levels and presence of oils in coffee can cause acid reflux, which can in turn contribute to the development of nausea. If you are prone to acid reflux or have a history of gastrointestinal issues, including nausea, it is best to limit your coffee consumption or switch to a lower-acid variety.

Can drinking coffee on an empty stomach make me nauseous?

Yes, drinking coffee on an empty stomach can increase the likelihood of experiencing nausea. This is because the caffeine in coffee stimulates the production of acid in the stomach, and without food to buffer this acid, it can irritate the stomach lining and cause nausea. To avoid feeling nauseous after drinking coffee, try eating something before or with your coffee, or consider switching to a lower-acid variety.

How can I prevent nausea when drinking coffee?

If you experience nausea after drinking coffee, there are a few things you can try to help prevent it. Firstly, consider switching to a lower-acid variety of coffee or mixing it with milk to help neutralize some of the acidity. Secondly, try eating something before or with your coffee to help buffer the acid it produces. If these strategies don’t work, consider reducing your overall coffee consumption or switching to a caffeine-free alternative, as caffeine is a major contributor to nausea in coffee drinkers.

Jessica Hartley

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