Tart, bright, acidic, sour: all these words are useful in describing flavors in brewed coffee and they all roughly describe the same thing, but have wildly different connotations. For example, we don’t usually use “sour” to describe cups of coffee we like, and don’t usually use “bright” as a negative. The amount of perceived acidity you can perceive in coffee can definitely relate to brewing (if you’re coffee’s tasting sour in a way you don’t like, try grinding finer), but many of our favorite coffees have an inherent, delicious acidity that makes them taste refreshing, fruity, and complex. Here are some recent whole bean or ground coffee favorites that highlight coffee acidity well.
Natural process coffees often have acidity that we describe as winey. It can approach a flavor in regular coffee we would call fermented if it went too far, but it stays on the right side of that line. These coffee beans are some of the most outstanding in the world. In this Honduran natural coffee, Methodical's Finca La Unica, that coffee acidity boosts the wild amount of strawberry flavor for something really special. Try a cup of this brewed coffee for something that will tickle your taste buds.
Kenyan coffee is known for its loud and complex acidity more than pretty much any other origin. Lime is a common flavor note for Kenyan coffee as with Verve's Kenya Ndaroini — lots of citric acid, but slightly more complex and funky than a simpler lemon flavor.
Because Colombia is so synonymous with coffee in general, it surprises some folks to hear that in specialty, clean, complex acidity is one of the main characteristics we look to this origin for. Madcap's delicious Luis Reinoso is a great example of acidic coffee, with grapefruit-like citric acid and a green apple flavor that suggests a good amount of malic acid as well.
Coffee's acidity says a lot about a roast, and majorly impacts your daily cup of coffee. Just because a coffee has a good amount of acidity, doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t also have dominant flavors that aren’t fruit. For example, Huckleberry's Guatemalan Atitlán el Grano has a ton of green apple acidity, but it has even more lasting hazelnut sweetness that reminds me of eating Nutella (BRB, adding green apples and nutella to my grocery list).
Drinking coffee with high acid content will expose your taste buds to a variety of delicious flavors that you probably didn't know you could discover in regular coffee.
So, if you're an avid coffee drinker in search of acidic coffee, try one of the coffee options above. Each coffee brand offers a unique roast to satisfy your taste so you can create your favorite specialty coffee drink from the comfort of your own home.