For a coffee lover, there is little more exciting (in the morning) than a brand-new coffee maker. It’s fancy! (Or simple). It makes eighty types of coffee! (or one, hey, we’re not judging). You’re excited.
And then the coffee tastes like plastic. It smells like plastic. And you feel cheated and head off to write a nasty review. But before you growl and hiss over your coffee, let’s take a closer look. Why does my coffee taste like plastic? You wonder.
Brand new coffee makers, as in ones that have recently hit the shelves before going home with you, are more likely to have this issue because they haven’t had a chance to let off the gasses that are trapped in the plastics.
New Coffee Maker, New Problems
New coffee makers are fun, but just like any other new gadget, they have their breaking in to do. Many coffee machines, cheap or expensive, have to go through the process of “outgassing”.
This is a likely problem with coffee makers that have a plastic water reservoir. The outgassing mingles with the water and voila: plastic coffee. If you’re using a machine with glass or stainless steel, you won’t have this issue.
But the most popular machines like Keurig’s are made with plastic, so it becomes a common issue.
But My Old Coffee Maker Made My Coffee Taste Like Plastic!
Yeah, it can happen with old ones too, sadly. In this case, it’s usually a sign that the plastic reservoir or plastic pieces are starting to degrade and the plastic is leaching into the water. Time for a replacement, I’m afraid.
Are My Genes Causing My Coffee To Taste Like Plastic?
Interestingly, people can have different sensitivity to tastes and odors, based on their genetics. One person will taste plastic in their coffee and another person will not.
In this case, all you can really do is try to clear out the odor and flavor using some of our tips below. But it’s interesting that everyone tastes and smells things slightly differently!
Ways to Get Rid of the Plastic Taste in Coffee
Fortunately, there are ways to get rid of this problem in newer machines. And in older ones, you may be able to use these methods to prolong their lives. In general, too, some of these methods are simply good ways to clean your coffee maker and get that fresh coffee flavor back.
- Vinegar. We use this method in our percolator pot regularly and it’s also a good way to get rid of the plastic taste. Vinegar is a great disinfectant and cleaner. This is a simple and cheap method: simply fill the reservoir with vinegar and water in equal amounts, clean it with a brush or with auto cleaning, pour the mixture out again, and clean it with water. We’ve also simply run the coffee machine with the vinegar and water mixture and that worked for our percolator.
- Soap and water. Just add soap to the water reservoir and then clean everything and rinse.
- Baking soda. Use warm water and add a fair amount of baking soda. Let the baking soda dissolve and then scrub the machine. You can do this a couple of times and then rinse everything.
- Lemon juice. A lot of lemon juice and a bit of water, run through the coffee machine, can help clear it up. Then wash it and use soap to clear out the slimy lemon juice.
- Vodka or isopropyl alcohol. This has worked for some people.
Probably the cheapest and simplest solutions are to use are vinegar, baking soda, or soap as these are things you probably already have on hand.
I at least can attest that vinegar works really well at cleaning out coffee machines and getting rid of funky odors and tastes. Though you may want to run a water cycle after to clear out the last of any vinegar.
Shopping for the Right Coffee Machine
Ending the plastic taste in coffee also starts with simply shopping smart when it comes to your coffee machine. If you’re shopping for a new machine to replace your old one, here are some fast tips:
- Make sure your machine is BPA-free. BPA is a chemical used to make some plastics and resins. BPA also has controversy surrounding it due to health concerns with some people claiming that it can interact badly with hormones and is linked to issues like heart problems and diabetes while others say that there’s no real proof that this happens. But BPA-free products definitely don’t have these problems and are generally more environmentally friendly.
- Read the reviews! If many people are complaining about a plastic taste, then this is probably going to be a problem for you too.
- Invest in glass or stainless steel. If you have the money for it, a glass or stainless-steel reservoir for the coffee machine is not going to have a plastic taste. But they do cost more, so you have to look at your budget. And of course, machines like Keurig’s don’t come in stainless steel or glass, so you have to balance what you want from your machine with your budget and your needs.
- Make sure to run water through your machine the first time you use it. This is just a good all-around tip for any new coffee maker – run water through it! This clears out any dust that may have accumulated and may help get rid of any funky odors.
Hopefully, a good cleaning regime will be enough to keep the plastic taste and odor at bay. The vinegar wash is a popular method at my house because we always have vinegar around and it’s easy to do, even if the kitchen does smell like vinegar for a while after.
But whatever method you decide to use, we hope that it results in a fresh cup of coffee that tastes like coffee! Always add your coffee pot to your cleaning routine, even if you don’t have the plastic taste to worry about, as it adds to your machine’s life expectancy and keeps your coffee tasting fresh.
Have you ever had the dreaded plastic coffee? What did you do about it?
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