How Germy Is Your Coffee?


If you enjoy a home brewed coffee each morning, whether from a traditional pot or the newer single serve style, you may be consuming more than just coffee. If it’s been a while since you’ve last cleaned your machine, you may be unknowingly harboring mold and bacteria inside.

Mold and many strains of bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus, a well-known agent responsible for some food poisoning, thrive in warm, dark and wet places. This makes the water reservoir of your coffee pot a perfect location for mold and bacteria growth.

Certain features of a coffee pot, such as a built-in water filter, may make you think your coffee maker may be cleaner than the average pot, but do not be fooled. Filtering the water only removes chemicals and metals from the water, although this differs between filters.

The only sure way to quell mold and bacteria growth in your machine is to clean it regularly and properly. Simply running water, even filtered water, through the machine will not kill mold or bacteria because the water does not get hot enough during a normal cycle.

The removable pieces of a coffee maker should be cleaned with hot soapy water or by running them through the sanitizing cycle of a dishwasher once a week. The reservoir should be cleaned with a solution of one part vinegar to one part water ran through a regular brewing cycle. Two vinegar cycles followed by two cycles of clean water once a month should disinfect the machine.

In between washes, remember to promptly remove wet coffee grounds after a cycle and rinse out the basket, as these parts may also grow mold and bacteria in between cycles.

Regular cleaning of your coffee maker will reduce the risk of food-borne illness by reducing the amount of mold and bacteria in your machine, and should improve the taste and quality of your brew.

For questions about cleaning your coffee maker or any other food safety topics, contact Stephanie Ler, Richland County Food and Consumer Safety Sanitarian at 433-2207.


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