Drinking coffee is such a routine part of our day that we don’t consider what’s even going on inside our own coffeemakers. Spoiler alert: the results aren’t pretty.
Most coffee lovers are concerned with the flavor and strength of their cup of joe, but when it comes to making coffee in a coffeemaker at home, office or hotel ignorance is bliss.
In 2011, the National Science Foundation (NSF International) found in an independent study of 22 households, that about half of coffeemakers contained yeast and mold in them. This is most likely due to the fact that more times than not, people don’t clean the insides of their coffee makers every day.
Not only does this just apply to the brewing pot, but the water container and coffee filters as well. If you use the coffeemaker at your office or any workplace, it has most likely never been properly washed on the inside at all. Not talking about hotel coffeemakers that are shared by hundreds of people every year.
To break it down simply: moist areas = bacteria and mold. Any moist environment is where bacteria and mold thrive. Additionally, mold can grow on hard surfaces, such as plastic and stainless steel which many coffeemakers are made of. Meaning that essentially all types of coffeemakers, even the one cup pod ones, aren’t safe from bacteria. No matter the appliance in your kitchen, mold can grow if not cleaned and maintained properly.
Is it that bad?
In 2015, another study published by CBS swabbed the inside of 10 family household coffeemakers. The reporter then took the samples to Loyola University's labs, where bacteria, such as e-coli, was found in both the water and the machines. If the coffeemaker isn't cleaned properly, you are essentially drinking bacteria with some coffee.
A way to tell if your machine needs to be cleaned is if your coffee tastes bitter. That itself is difficult to judge since coffee is naturally bitter. Over time, the bacteria can affect your body which can lead to serious illness.
What should I do?
Not many people really think about cleaning their trusty small kitchen appliances very often. Not only that, sometimes you just don’t have the time to clean it. You are often rushing out in the mornings, and by the time you get home from work, you forget about it. When in the office, do you know who is actually responsible of cleaning the office’s coffeemaker?
Just like anything you own, it’s important to understand how to properly care for and clean your coffeemaker. Unfortunately, issues with dirt, mold, and bacteria can be inevitable if you don’t consistently clean your coffee machine. There are varying sizes of coffeemakers, and the more compact it is, the more difficult it is to get into it and clean thoroughly. Also bear in mind that keeping water in your coffeemaker's water tank for a long time is a bad practice.
If you don’t want the risk, or simply don’t want to deal with the trouble or worry of cleaning, coffeemakers might not be for you. But if you still need your fast caffeine fix, instant coffee could be the best alternative (full disclosure, we are an instant coffee company!).
All you need is water and your favorite mug. No cleaning, no bacteria, no worries. It’s especially good if you work in an office and don’t want to share the same coffee as the others from the (most likely) dirty coffeemaker. Traveling a lot and want to avoid the hotel coffeemaker, or even worst the airplane's coffeemaker? Bring some instant coffee (and water if needed) with you for an easy caffeine mix. Isn't the kettle full of bacteria as well? It might be, but it's so much easier to keep clean and well maintained.