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Why Does Coffee Make Me Nauseous? It’s Just Not Fair!

Hi! My name is Arne. Having spent years working as a barista I'm now on a mission to bring more good coffee to the people. To that end, my team and I provide you with a broad knowledge base on the subject of coffee.

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You’re sitting in a meeting. All your coworkers are sipping their morning cup of joe, eyes glazing over as the boss drones on. You look at their cups and wonder, why does coffee make me nauseous?

You’re sitting in a meeting. All your coworkers are sipping their morning cup of joe, eyes glazing over as the boss drones on. You look at their cups and wonder, why does coffee make me nauseous?

After another swig of water, you think about it some more. You love the smell and taste of the stuff, but your body can’t handle bean juice.

Others say coffee is amazing. But your first thought when you smell the morning brew is why does coffee make me nauseous? Well, there are a few reasons why your favorite americano upsets your digestive system, and it might not even be the coffee’s fault.

Keep in mind, I’m no doctor; just a fabulous barista with a passion for coffee. Still, we may be able to narrow down the culprit for you as we go through the suggestions below. After all, I’m here to help you avoid an upset stomach!

Overview: Why Does Coffee Make Me Nauseous?

So, why does coffee make me nauseous, you ask? The first thing you need to understand is that coffee is an acidic drink. No, that doesn’t mean it will dissolve a brick or anything. These acids affect the flavor and “brightness” of a cup of coffee. Granted, there are a few acids in there that can be irritating to a sensitive stomach.

Another thing to take into consideration is what you put into your coffee. Things like dairy products or sweeteners can cause trouble for sensitive people. Like I said earlier, it may not be the coffee but the additives that are causing you to feel nauseous. I know you won’t want to hear it, but you might have to cut out the daily latte macchiato or cappuccino.

In fact, coffee can even interact with certain medications and cause unwanted gastrointestinal symptoms.

The current condition of your body can also make you feel sick after finishing a cup. Now when I say body condition, I’m talking about whether you’re pregnant, super hungry, stressed out and the like.

And yes, all these can affect how your body processes coffee and whether or not you’re going to feel sick afterward.

Why Does Coffee Make Me Nauseous? Possible Reasons

Now, let’s break down some of the possible reasons for your burning question (no pun intended!). Why does coffee make me nauseous? I’ll start with the simplest cause and work my way down the list.

Drinking Coffee on an Empty Stomach

First up, drinking coffee on an empty stomach. For most people, this isn’t an issue but if you have a more sensitive system it could cause nausea. Coffee stimulates gastric acid secretion. This spike in stomach acid may irritate your stomach lining and cause indigestion.

So, the best thing you can do to curb adverse reactions is to eat a little something before firing up your drip coffee maker. Breakfast, anyone?

Drinking Too Much Coffee

Arne with a Lot of Coffee Beans.

Of course, too much coffee can have an effect on your digestive system, too. I know what you’re thinking: is that even a thing?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends four to five cups a day. So picture finishing off the last sip of cup number eleven. You find yourself wondering, why does coffee make me nauseous and shaky? I’m here to tell you that quantity may be to blame for your symptoms.

Acid Reflux

Since coffee tends to increase acid production in the stomach, there’s a good chance it can trigger acid reflux. It’s the caffeine and acidity that are the villains here. They tend to relax the opening where the esophagus meets the stomach. The result is that excess stomach acid can back up though the opening and cause reflux and heartburn.

Over Caffeination

Coffeeness is Testing the Amount of Caffein in Each Coffee Drink

As it happens, excessive caffeine consumption can also set off some unpleasant symptoms. I already mentioned that one of the effects of caffeine is that it stimulates acid production. In fact, it stimulates the entire gastrointestinal system.

What that means is that if you’re drinking coffee to excess, the caffeine shifts your system into overdrive. That can translate into high energy levels at best. However, negative results like feeling nauseated or the triggering of laxative effects can sneak up quickly. Let’s face it, no one wants that to happen at the office!


Besides coffee causing laxative effects in large quantities, it’s also a diuretic. If you’re already dehydrated and you reach for a cup of coffee, chances are it’ll make you feel nauseous. Plus, it may dehydrate you further.

This is one of the easier issues to fix: stay hydrated as best you can. Drinking lots of water helps with curbing any harsh effects from coffee consumption. What’s more, it has the added bonus of improving your digestion and health.

Interactions With Medications

What if coffee has only recently started to make you feel nauseous? Check for interactions with any new drugs. Caffeine, acidity, or other compounds in coffee can react with your medication.

Seeing as caffeine stimulates your system, it’s best not to combine it with other stimulants or steroids. Even some antibacterial medications, like Ciprofloxacin, can interact badly with caffeine.

Use caution when drinking coffee after starting a new medication. And definitely don’t take pills with coffee. That could cause you to feel nauseated or develop some other type of abdominal distress.

Interaction With Cortisol

Another possible reason why coffee might make you feel nauseous is the effect it has on your hormones. We know caffeine is a stimulant, and that it can give you a great boost of energy when you need it.

What you may not know is that caffeine also promotes excretion of certain hormones, specifically cortisol. Cortisol is the body’s stress hormone and we all know what kind of havoc stress can create in your system. It can certainly leave you feeling nauseous!

The best thing to do in this case is to try not to drink excess amounts of coffee if you’re going through stressful times. Keeping your cortisol levels in check is always a good solution.

The Smell of Coffee

Arne Smells on Fresh Coffee Beans

So what do you do if it’s the smell of coffee that makes you want to run for the hills?

Some studies have shown that the reason for this may be your body associating the smell or coffee with the negative side effects of caffeine. You know how there’s that one alcoholic beverage you can no longer stand the sight of because of that crazy night years ago? It’s the same principle.

Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do about fixing that kind of coffee aversion other than putting a clothespin on your nose!


Speaking of aversions, many women who love coffee can’t drink it while they’re pregnant. Of course, it’s best practice to limit caffeine intake during pregnancy. That way you’ll reduce the chances of any detrimental impacts to the baby. Still, many women report developing an actual aversion to the drink.

There are several reasons for this. For starters, it could be the body’s way of preventing the ingestion of something that may have harmful ingredients.

Also, caffeine stimulates the gastrointestinal system to create more acid in the stomach. So drinking coffee may bring on morning sickness symptoms, heartburn or acid reflux. And no expecting mom wants that!

That also teases the question, can you use a sudden aversion to coffee as an indicator of pregnancy? It’s probably best to leave that to proper medical testing.

Verdict: Why Does Coffee make Me Nauseous?

To combat nausea, try not to toss down your coffee on an empty stomach. Also, go easy on the coffee intake. Keep in mind you can also dilute your coffee with milk foam, non dairy creamer or water to make it easier to stomach.

Other than that, the only real cure for coffee induced nausea is time.

I hope this post gave you a little insight about why drinking coffee may upset your stomach. Try paying attention to the triggers above to help you avoid feeling sick. Then, you’ll never again have to wonder to yourself, why does coffee make me nauseous?

Time to speak up! Has drinking coffee ever made you feel sick? What was the cause, and did you find a solution so you could drink coffee again? Drop a comment below – I’d love to hear your story!

Why Does Coffee Make Me Nauseous? FAQ

There are a few things you can do to improve nausea from coffee. First, you can sip some water to help dilute the caffeine. Another option is to eat a high fiber food, like an apple or a whole grain muffin. Finally, (and it might seem counterintuitive) try to walk it off a bit. You’ll get moving and encourage your system to process the coffee more quickly.

According to a study completed in 2004, some pregnant women experience nausea from drinking coffee. They developed an aversion to it as a result. So the answer is yes, it’s possible. For more information, take a look at this study.

If your nausea is being caused by the acidity of the coffee, then yes. Milk or other dairy products can lower the acidity in your cup of joe and, in turn, possibly prevent nausea. If you are lactose intolerant, try a dairy substitute such as oat milk.

It’s possible that you could drink decaf coffee without feeling nauseous. That’s only if it’s the caffeine that’s causing you to feel a bit queasy. The best thing to do is try a decaf coffee and note how you feel afterwards.

It seems logical that a light roast coffee would be “lighter” on the system, but in fact the opposite is true. Dark roasted coffee beans have less caffeine and are slightly less acidic than light roasts. For example, most breakfast blend coffees are potent light roasts. So if you often find yourself wondering why coffee makes you nauseous, perhaps switch to dark roasts to see if it helps!

Your coffee expert
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Arne Preuss

Hi! My name is Arne. Having spent years working as a barista I'm now on a mission to bring more good coffee to the people. To that end, my team and I provide you with a broad knowledge base on the subject of coffee.

More about Arne Preuss

Hi! My name is Arne. Having spent years working as a barista I'm now on a mission to bring more good coffee to the people. To that end, my team and I provide you with a broad knowledge base on the subject of coffee.

More about Arne Preuss

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