Abstract Base-catalyzed hydrolysis of coumalic acid (COU) in binary aqueous-methanol and aqueous-acetone mixtures has been studied kinetically at a temperature range from 283 to 313K. Moreover, the change in the activation energy barrier of COU from water to water–methanol and water–acetone mixtures is estimated from the kinetic data. Solvent effects on reactivity trends have been analyzed into initial and transition state components by using transfer chemical potentials of the reactants and kinetic data. The transfer chemical potentials δmμθ for COU− anion are derived from solubility data from its calcium, cerium and lanthanum salts. The decrease in rate constant of the base hydrolysis reaction of COU as the percentage of methanol or acetone increases is dominated by transition state (TS). The base hydrolysis reaction of COU follows a rate law with kobs=k2[OH−] and the reaction mechanism was suggested. The high negative values of entropy of activation support the proposal mechanism, i.e. the investigated reaction takes place via the formation of an intermediate complex. Thus, the ring opening of the intermediate complex would be the rate controlling step.