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Low Acid Coffee for People with Digestive Disorders

Sarah Stevenson
By Sarah StevensonApril 8, 2014

The aging process can bring on unwanted digestive side effects, like acid reflux and heartburn. Low acid foods and drinks can help reduce these uncomfortable side effects. One innovative company has developed a new product that allows seniors to continue enjoying what can be a major irritating culprit, coffee.

Low Acid Coffee for People with Digestive Disorders

For lifelong coffee drinkers, the idea of reducing or cutting out coffee entirely can come as a devastating blow — yet, estimates suggest that this is the case for up to 40 million people in the United States who avoid coffee due to stomach irritation, according to a 2010 report by the American Chemical Society. Unfortunately for the caffeine addicts among us, one of the most often-cited pieces of advice for controlling acid reflux or GERD is to avoid foods that are common triggers, including coffee.

Enter a product called trucup: a coffee without those irritating acids, specifically designed for seniors and people of all ages suffering from heartburn, acid reflux or other forms of digestive sensitivity. That’s a whopping 20% of us suffering symptoms of acid reflux at least weekly, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse.

You can thank Seattle-based company One Eighty for this latest innovation. The parent company of trucup, One Eighty also operates Leisure Care, a senior housing management company that has been in the industry for 35 years. Not surprisingly, trucup has been a hit in Leisure Care’s senior communities, but as RJ Selfridge, trucup’s Expert Coffee Consultant, is quick to point out, it isn’t a “coffee specifically for seniors. It’s just a great cup of coffee.”

Digestive Disorders Among Seniors

Food-related digestive disorders can range from the slightly irritating to those requiring hospitalization. Often the discomfort, pain and suffering can be avoided by making lifestyle changes that include your diet. Avoid eating foods that are spicy, acidic and high in fat, and avoid consuming beverages that are carbonated, caffeinated and even alcohol. Some of the more common food-related digestive disorders include, but are not limited to:

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  • Diarrhea loose or watery stool
  • Constipation infrequent or difficult bowel movements
  • Lactose Intolerance inability to digest the sugars found in milk or dairy products
  • Ulcers breaks in the upper small intestine lining or in the stomach
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) stems from the intestines and causes constipation, diarrhea, pain, cramping and bloating in the stomach
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) stomach acid causes a burning sensation by chronically refluxing into the esophagus
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) inflammation in the intestines
  • Gallstones hard particles that form in the gallbladder due to an imbalance in bile
  • Celiac Disease inability to digest gluten, a protein found in grains
  • Crohn’s Disease inflammation in the small and large intestines that causes ulcers, abdominal pain and loose stool

A Less Acidic Brew for Coffee Drinkers

About three years ago, Dan Madsen, CEO of One Eighty, decided to add a coffee roaster to their list of successful businesses. Joanie Parsons, who is now a Partner at trucup Coffee as well as President of Parsons PR, was the one to do the research — and the one who identified which low acid coffee to be branded in the U.S. as trucup. The product is patented in Germany, where it has been around for a surprisingly long time.

“In the 1930s, they found that seniors were drinking less and less coffee,” says Parsons. “They came up with a way to take the bad acid out of the coffee, which enabled seniors to drink coffee because now it was easier on their stomachs — they were not having the stomach problems or acid reflux they had with other coffees.”

“We thought this was the perfect match for Leisure Care and One Eighty,” says Parsons. One Eighty acquired the North American rights for the all-natural acid removal process, and created the trucup brand to launch not only within Leisure Care, but throughout the senior housing industry, the healthcare field and other industries on a national basis.

“The process of removing the harmful components of the chlorogenic acid is not completely different from the decaffeination process, but it uses only water and steam; no chemicals are used,” says Selfridge. “What this patented process has done is it has targeted the harmful acid that is tough on your stomach, but it left the character, the complexity, that you want in coffee. The flavor of the coffee is left intact.”

Seniors and the Health Benefits of Low Acid Coffee

For seniors and for people with digestive problems, this is a blessing in a cup. “So much of the time, seniors are either not allowed to drink coffee, or think they can’t,” says Andy Gomes, Partner at trucup Coffee and COO of One Eighty’s Hospitality brands. “With this coffee they can. It reduces many of the stomach irritants normally found in coffee, so they can have another cup.”

In addition, it tastes like a proper cup of coffee. “The reduced acid does not affect the stomach, but on the flip side, it’s such a great cup of coffee,” Gomes says. “It’s bold, it finishes nicely and it’s not overly roasted. It’s just very smooth.”

In case you’re still not convinced, here’s what one of Leisure Care’s residents has to say about it: according to Jim Baker, who lives at Fairwinds Ivey Ranch in Oceanside, CA,

“I enjoy trucup coffee. I used to have a problem if I drank more than one cup but now it doesn’t bother me. I’ve never heard anyone complain about our coffee; they drink a lot of it!”

The Next Big Thing in Coffee?

After incorporating trucup into all of their senior communities in 2012, Leisure Care did a study of the transition from regular coffee. Sixty days after the change, not only was the feedback 85% positive, the amount of coffee being ordered increased — even though the overall occupancy of the communities hadn’t changed. “When people drink it, they drink more of it,” says Joanie Parsons.

“We found that people are drinking trucup all day. We’re getting testimonials from coffee drinkers who have had to stop drinking coffee and that this is the first coffee that they’ve been able to drink.”

The trucup coffee comes in six different roasts, including one that is decaffeinated (though the decaf version isn’t low acid). The good news is that you don’t need to live in a Leisure Care community to buy it: it’s available through Amazon.com, and it can be ordered by retailers. Says Selfridge, “We’re set to launch nationally and make a bigger splash, and hopefully get people to understand that they don’t have to give up coffee drinking.”

If trucup takes off the way they’re hoping, the next time you go into your neighborhood coffee shop, you might find yourself choosing from three categories of coffee instead of two: regular, decaf — and stomach friendly.

Have you tasted trucup or another low-acid coffee? What’s your opinion of this new direction in coffee? Let us know in the comments below.

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