Why Does Coffee Make You Nauseous? (There Is a Simple Explanation)

If you’ve ever wondered, “Why does coffee make me nauseous?” you’re not alone. This article aims to shed light on this perplexing question. Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • Caffeine’s role in nausea: Exploring how it stimulates stomach acid production.
  • Coffee’s acidity impact: How it affects your stomach, especially if sensitive to acidity.
  • Empty stomach effects: Timing matters when drinking coffee.
  • Individual caffeine sensitivity: How it varies and influences coffee reactions.
  • Additives in focus: Identifying potential culprits beyond coffee itself.
  • FAQs about coffee and nausea: Answering common questions.

Why Does Caffeine Cause Nausea?

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Caffeine, the main component in coffee that gives you that much-needed morning boost, can sometimes be a double-edged sword. It stimulates the production of stomach acid, which aids in digestion. However, an excess of this acid can lead to discomfort and, in some cases, nausea. This is especially true if you consume coffee in large quantities or on an empty stomach.

Furthermore, caffeine can lead to gastroesophageal reflux, commonly known as heartburn. This happens when the lower esophageal sphincter, a muscle that separates your stomach from your esophagus, relaxes when it shouldn’t, allowing stomach acid to rise up into the esophagus. This can cause a burning sensation in your chest and, you guessed it, nausea.

But that’s not all. Caffeine is also a diuretic, meaning it increases urine production. This can lead to dehydration if you’re not careful to replenish your fluids. And guess what one of the symptoms of dehydration is? Nausea. So, while that cup of coffee might be a great pick-me-up, it’s essential to balance it with adequate water intake.

In conclusion, while caffeine can have numerous benefits, it’s important to consume it in moderation and pay attention to how your body reacts. After all, everyone is different, and what works for one person might not work for another.

Coffee’s Acidity on the Stomach

Ever wondered why that morning cup of joe sometimes leaves you feeling queasy? The answer could lie in the acidity of coffee. Coffee, especially some varieties like Arabica, is known for its high acidity. This acidity is often what gives coffee its unique flavor profile, with descriptors like bright, tangy, or clean. But for some, this acidity can be a bit too much for their stomach to handle.

coffee acidity, nausea

The human stomach is naturally acidic, with a pH level typically ranging from 1.5 to 3.5. This acidity helps break down food during digestion. However, when you introduce coffee into the mix, you’re adding more acid into an already acidic environment. For some people, this can irritate the stomach lining, leading to discomfort and, in some cases, nausea.

But why does coffee make you nauseous? It’s not just the acidity of coffee that can cause these symptoms. It’s also how your body reacts to it. This is where caffeine sensitivity comes into play.

Caffeine sensitivity refers to how your body processes and reacts to caffeine. It’s largely determined by your genetics, specifically the CYP1A2 gene. This gene controls the production of an enzyme that metabolizes or breaks down, caffeine in the liver. Some people’s bodies produce this enzyme at a higher rate, allowing them to process caffeine quickly. These individuals are often less sensitive to the effects of caffeine.

On the other hand, some people metabolize caffeine more slowly. These individuals are considered to have high caffeine sensitivity and are more likely to experience the side effects of caffeine, including nausea. This sensitivity can be heightened when the acidic nature of coffee comes into play, leading to an increased likelihood of stomach irritation and subsequent nausea.

So, if you find yourself feeling nauseous after drinking coffee, it could be a combination of the coffee’s acidity and your personal caffeine sensitivity. It’s a complex interplay of factors, that can help you make more informed decisions about your coffee consumption.

If you’re one of those individuals with high caffeine sensitivity, you might want to consider adjusting your coffee intake. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to give up coffee entirely. There are several ways to mitigate the effects of coffee’s acidity and your caffeine sensitivity:

  • Opt for low-acid coffee: Some coffee varieties and brands specifically offer low-acid options. These can be a great alternative for those who find regular coffee too harsh on their stomach.
  • Consider your coffee preparation method: Cold brew coffee, for example, is known to be less acidic than hot brews. So, changing up your brewing method could make a difference.
  • Don’t drink coffee on an empty stomach: Having some food in your stomach can help buffer the acidity of the coffee and reduce the chances of irritation and nausea.
  • Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water alongside your coffee can help maintain hydration levels and reduce the chances of caffeine-induced dehydration, which can also lead to feelings of nausea.

Remember, everyone’s body is different, and what works for one person might not work for another. It’s all about finding the right balance that works for you.

Effect of Coffee on an Empty Stomach

There’s something about the aroma of coffee that makes it the go-to morning beverage for many. But have you ever noticed that drinking coffee on an empty stomach can sometimes make you feel a bit off? If you’ve ever asked yourself, “Why does coffee make me nauseous?” this could be part of the answer.

When you drink coffee on an empty stomach, you’re essentially pouring a highly acidic beverage into an environment that’s ready and waiting to digest. Your stomach produces more acid in response, which can lead to irritation of the stomach lining. This irritation can manifest as a feeling of nausea or general discomfort.

Additionally, coffee stimulates the production of gastrin, a hormone that speeds up activity in the colon. On an empty stomach, this can lead to a feeling of being ‘rushed’ through your morning routine, which can also contribute to feelings of nausea.

In addition to its potential to cause nausea, coffee can also contribute to a sore throat for some individuals. The combination of coffee’s acidity and the heat from drinking hot coffee can irritate the throat, leading to discomfort and soreness. If you experience a sore throat after consuming coffee, it may be worth exploring alternatives or adjusting your coffee preparation method to alleviate this symptom.

So, what’s the solution? Try to have something in your stomach before you drink your coffee. Even a small snack can help to buffer the effects of the coffee’s acidity and reduce the likelihood of feeling nauseous.

Role of Additives in Coffee

Coffee, in its pure form, is a blend of water and coffee beans. But let’s be honest, how many of us actually drink it black? From sugar and cream to flavored syrups and whipped cream, the list of potential coffee additives is long. But did you know that these additives could be contributing to that nauseous feeling?

coffee causing nausea

Take sugar, for example. While it can certainly make your coffee taste sweeter, it can also cause a spike in blood sugar levels. This can lead to a ‘sugar crash’ later on, which can manifest as feelings of nausea.

Dairy products, like milk or cream, can also cause issues, especially for individuals who are lactose intolerant. Even if you’re not lactose intolerant, consuming large amounts of dairy can lead to feelings of bloating and discomfort, which can contribute to feelings of nausea.

So, the next time you’re pondering why coffee makes you nauseous, consider what you’re adding to it. It might be worth experimenting with different additives, or reducing the amount you use, to see if it makes a difference. After all, everyone’s body is different, and finding the right balance for you is key to enjoying your coffee experience.


Can decaf coffee also cause nausea?

Yes, it can. Decaf coffee still contains some caffeine and the same acids as regular coffee, which can irritate the stomach.

How can I prevent feeling nauseous after drinking coffee?

Try drinking coffee with food, opting for low-acid coffee, or reducing the amount of additives you use.

Are there alternatives to coffee that won’t make me feel nauseous?

Absolutely! Herbal teas, chicory coffee, and caffeine-free alternatives like golden milk or matcha can be great options.


Navigating the world of coffee and its effects on the body can be a bit of a journey. From understanding the role of caffeine and acidity to considering the impact of additives and personal sensitivity, it’s clear that the question, “Why does coffee make me nauseous?” has multiple answers. Remember, everyone’s body is different, and finding the right balance for you is key to enjoying your coffee experience.

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