8 Embarrassing Coffee Mistakes You Must Avoid

This article explains some of the common coffee mistakes people make when ordering or brewing a cup of their preferred caffeine hit.

Over 1 billion people drink coffee every day, and some are more experienced than others. However, even the most knowledgeable coffee aficionados make mistakes that aren’t only embarrassing, but it’s affecting the taste of their coffee.

In this post, we’ll be covering these mistakes while showing you how to avoid them so you can make the best possible cup of joe.

Let’s dive in!

1. Not Cleaning Your Coffee Maker Regularly

A woman drinking coffee that is bad tasting.
Dirty machines and too much sugar are too common coffee mistakes

Sometimes we’re too busy, or life gets in the way, and we cannot spare a few minutes to clean the machine that brings us so much energy and happiness.

Coffee grounds leave residue and water stains in your brew basket, and this can collect nasty bacteria. A study done by the National Science Foundation found that 50% of us have yeast and mold just laying around, doing their thing inside our coffeemakers. 

Imagine how much better your coffee would taste if you didn’t drink it was a side of yeast and mold.

Most coffee aficionados recommend cleaning your coffee maker once a month. But most of us drink coffee every day and once a month is too little.

After you’ve cleaned your coffee maker, your coffee will taste amazing but fast forward 3 weeks, and you’ve got a foul taste in your coffee.

You don’t need to go overboard and clean your coffee maker after every cup of joe made, but clean it every 2 to 3 weeks. These rituals ensure that you have a great cup of coffee every time.

What Parts of My Coffee Maker Should I Clean?

You should clean every part of your coffee maker that touches water. This includes the pot, baskets, and portafilter.

How Do I Clean My Common Coffee Maker?

  1. Firstly, fill your coffee pot with half water and half vinegar and brew without any grounds.
  2. Run the same water and vinegar formula through your coffee maker again.
  3. Rinse your baskets with saltwater, then clean water.
  4. Run one more pot through your coffee maker but this time, use fresh water and one scoop of coffee grounds. This will get rid of any leftover vinegar and salt that might affect the taste of your coffee.
  5. Throw the pot of coffee away then rinse and wipe it with lukewarm water.

Voila! Your coffee maker is now cleaner than when you bought it.

2. Not Experimenting With Different Brewing Methods

When I bought my first espresso machine for 100 bucks, I loved it and stuck with it for years—not drinking any other type of coffee. I was loyal to my espresso machine.

But you’re doing yourself a disservice by only using one brew method or coffee type. There are countless methods that offer different flavors, strengths, and acidity. 

And I don’t think your espresso machine will mind if you drink from a drip coffee maker for a week.

Most coffee aficionados drink from;

  • An espresso machine
  • A French press
  • Or an AeroPress

These are common and reliable brewing methods, but if you want to spice things up, try these:

Moka Pot

A Moka Pot
The Chemex is a popular choice for coffee lovers

A Moka Pot is a small kettle that consists of 3 chambers. Water from the bottom chamber boils, and the steam creates pressure that pushes water through the grounds into the top chamber. This results in a shot of espresso. 

Now, does it taste like a shot made from an espresso machine? No, it’s stronger and often has a sweeter aftertaste, depending on the coffee bean used.

A Moka Pot is a super-fast way of making a decent shot of espresso. Once heated, it only takes around 5 minutes until it’s ready.

Thumbs up


  • A great choice if you’re on a budget
  • Doesn’t need to warm up like an espresso machine, making it better for busy mornings
  • Can brew up to 16 cups at once
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  • It tastes like a shot of espresso from 1901

Now, if a Moka Pot doesn’t sound appealing to you, then try a Chemex Brewer.

Chemex Brewer

Chemex brewing method

The Chemex brewing method is stylish and fast. It brews tasty coffee if paired with the correct coffee beans. To try the Chemex Brewing method, simply follow these 5 steps.

  1. Grind size is important. Grab a burr grinder and grind 55 grams of coffee beans to a medium-coarse grind, similar to the consistency of sea salt. If your grounds are too big, then the water won’t extract all the possible flavors. Too small and you’ll have coffee grounds in your mouth when you drink your coffee. You likely won’t get the consistency right the first time, but keep at it.
  2. Next, place your filter into your Chemex and add some tap water to your filter to remove any chemicals that’ll affect the taste of your coffee. Don’t forget to throw this water away.
  3. Add your coffee grounds on top of your filter. Start by adding 2 tablespoons of coffee grounds per cup of water.
  4. Pour some boiling water on your coffee grounds and let it sit for 30 seconds. Known as blooming, it releases carbon dioxide from your coffee, giving it a fuller flavor. After 30 seconds, pour the remaining water over your coffee, starting from the middle and working your way out.
  5. Remove your filter and pour the coffee into your favorite cup and enjoy.


  • Can make 3-4 coffees in one go, saving you time in the morning
  • Extracts lots of flavors from your grounds, giving it a rich and sweet taste
  • Takes time to master a Chemex Brewer


  • A high chance of over or under extraction
  • Overkill for one cup of coffee

The SoftBrew

Soft brew coffee

The SoftBrew is like a French press, just easier. It’s coffee’s version of a teapot.

The SoftBrew works because its special filter has thousands of tiny holes, which means you can put any type of coffee grounds in it, and it’ll work.

Simply throw some coffee grounds in your SoftBrew with some water and enjoy.

Who knows, maybe after using this bad boy, you decide to make your daily cup of joe with him.

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  • Super easy
  • Takes seconds to make
  • And it comes in different sizes
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  • It’s boring to make coffee with the SoftBrew
  • And it’s quite fragile since it’s made from ceramic pieces

If you’ve been drinking from the same brew method for years, you now have no excuse to start experimenting and mixing things up.

3. Drinking Coffee From A Cold Cup

When you’re feeling groggy and tired in the morning, nothing hits the spot better than a hot cup of coffee. Not only do you get a caffeine rush, but you get that warm feeling in your chest when you drink coffee which is to die for.

But once your coffee cools down, that famous taste disappears and is replaced with something you’d throw down the sink. And that’s where prewarming your cup comes to the rescue.

Lots of people complain about their coffee going cold, but they make it in a cold cup. If you’re sipping on your cup of joe while working or you simply want it to keep warm for longer, then you must prewarm your cup. 

Not everyone likes cold coffee.

To pre-warm your cup, simply pour some hot water in it and let it sit for a few minutes. While your cup is busy heating up, grind your beans, and prepare everything. This way, once your coffee is ready, your cup can keep it warm for long.

4. Buying Barista Coffee Grounds Instead Of Whole Beans

I get why people buy ground coffee. There’s no need to spend money on a noisy grinder. But the problem is that when coffee is ground up, it starts aging rapidly.

When you buy ground up coffee, you’re essentially buying old coffee.

The difference between coffee beans and ground coffee is the freshness and flavor. Immediately after you’ve ground up some coffee beans, it’s at its freshest. Every hour after that it starts to age.

And that’s the beauty of buying coffee beans, every cup you drink is the freshest it can possibly be. Ever wonder why coffee shops always smell like heaven, but your ground coffee smells bland? It’s because they grind their coffee right before they serve it.

A great comparison is brownies. A few minutes after brownies have been removed from the oven, it’s at its freshest, and every hour after that, it starts aging. Eat that same brownie a week from now and notice the difference.

You wouldn’t buy old brownies, now why would you buy old coffee?

Instead of saving a few dollars on a grinder and drinking old coffee, invest in one, and drink the freshest possible cup every time. You can get a burr grinder for super cheap on Amazon.

5. Grinding All Your Beans Beforehand

Grinding all your beans at once defeats the purpose of buying coffee beans. You might as well buy ground coffee.

Coffee beans have a life expectancy of 2-4 weeks while ground coffee only has 20 to 30 minutes.

The reason is that oxygen isn’t coffee’s friend. Oxygen is the greatest decayer, and through a process called oxidation, it will break down the acids, evaporate the oils in the coffee bean, which gives it flavor, and basically kills the coffee.

A few hours after grinding and your coffee will be a shell of its former self.

Instead of grinding all your beans beforehand to save yourself some time, grind your coffee beans seconds before you use them. This ensures the freshest coffee possible.

6. Pouring Boiling Water Over Your Coffee Grounds

We all know the coffee addict’s morning routine. Boil some water and pour it over your grounds. 

But doing this will ruin the taste of your coffee.

When you pour boiling water over your coffee grounds, it burns the coffee. It then tastes bitter and flavorless.

The perfect temperature for water to come in contact with coffee is 202 to 206 degrees Fahrenheit. Water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit. So to make sure you aren’t burning your coffee, simply wait 30 seconds. The water will cool down and won’t burn your coffee.

If you’re a real coffee lover, then buy a thermometer. You’ll get a more accurate reading of the temperature and your friends will think you’re a boss when they come over for coffee.

7. Not Storing Your Coffee Properly

Most coffee aficionados will buy coffee beans and leave them in the bag they bought them in. Your coffee ages faster this way since it’ll be in contact with oxygen, which is coffee’s biggest enemy.

Reduce your coffee’s contact with air by getting a vacuum pack machine and storing your coffee in there. Vacuum pack machines will completely remove all the air from the container, keeping your coffee fresh.

Simply put your coffee beans in the container, screw on the lid, and press the button to completely remove all air.

If you aren’t willing to spend money on a vacuum pack machine, then get an airtight container like a ziplock bag and put your coffee beans in there. Don’t forget to press out as much air as possible.

Now that we’ve covered how to store your beans, let’s cover where to store them.

The best place to store coffee beans is in a cool, dark place. Preferably in the corner of a pantry or cupboard. Also, keep your coffee beans away from any other strong-smelling things like spices. Coffee is hygroscopic, which means it’ll absorb smells that are around it.

Also, never put your coffee beans in the fridge or freezer. The beans will absorb the smells of last night’s leftovers, and you’ll end up with a weird tasting coffee.

Lastly, buy less coffee. Instead of buying coffee for 3 months, buy just enough for one week. This will limit your coffee’s contact with oxygen and improve its freshness.

8. Adding Too Much Sugar To Your Coffee (Like Starbucks)

There is no reason to add sugar to your coffee if you bought high-quality coffee while storing and preparing it properly.

The reason most people add sugar to their coffee is that the coffee tastes terrible. The coffee shop may have stored their coffee incorrectly, or it could be cheap beans from a local grocery store.

If you buy quality beans and prepare your coffee properly, then you’ll appreciate the taste of fresh espresso beans.

Most coffee chains don’t aim to make a perfect cup of coffee. They care about reaching a certain profit target each month. So they’ll shop around for mediocre coffee and buy it in bulk. Depending on the store, the coffee may be old kept outside of vacuum machines.

These mistakes leads to a mediocre cup of coffee that requires lots of sugar to taste tolerable.

Instead of going to a coffee shop, and getting mediocre coffee, buy quality beans and prepare them at home. You’ll taste the difference.

Common Coffee Mistakes: The Final Word

It doesn’t matter if you’re a month or a decade into your coffee-making journey, there are mistakes you’re making that’s affecting the taste of your coffee. Now I’d like to hear from you, what coffee mistakes have you been making?


  • Aisling O'Connor

    Aisling is an Irish food and drinks writer and journalist fueled by coffee and herbal tea. She followed up her journalism degree with nutrition studies. Find Aisling on LinkedIn.