5 Crimes against coffee that will ruin your brew.

Making weak coffee.

Coffee Crime #1. Making your coffee too weak.

This is definitely a felony. Weak coffee isn’t coffee at all. And it’s not just about “weakness”. When you use too much water and not enough ground coffee you do more than just dilute the taste, you lose most of the subtleties of the coffee as well.

If this is you, I hope you are buying really cheap coffee. Because if you are buying good coffee, you’re wasting it. And if you are serving this to your friends, don’t be surprised if they don’t come back!

If you are genuinely struggling with finding the right proportion of water to ground coffee, all is forgiven. For now. Just be sure to read our page on how to measure your coffee.

Coffee pot on hotplate.

Coffee Crime #2. Letting the coffee stew on a hot plate.

Nasty, nasty. If you have a coffee maker with a hot plate beneath the carafe, then it’s going to keep your coffee nice and hot…indefinitely.

The downside is that it will cook your coffee to death, particularly after you have poured a cup or two.

This crime is at its worst in the office, when someone pours most of the pot of coffee, but leaves half an inch at the bottom. He walks away without making a fresh pot because, well, there’s still a half cup on the pot.

Sure, a half pot of cooked up, evaporated and nasty coffee.

To avoid this problem altogether, get a coffee maker with a thermal carafe. The carafe is insulated to keep the coffee hot for at least a couple of hours. And there is no heating plate, so the coffee is good to the last drop.

This is the kind of coffee maker we use at home. You can read our review here.


Open coffee bag.

Coffee Crime #3. Storing your coffee with the bag open.

Yes mom, I’m talking to you! Whether you buy whole beans or ground coffee, you must seal the bag after you open it. And seal it well.

If you don’t, the coffee will quickly lose its flavor. Much of the flavor in coffee is found in aromatic oils that bind to the coffee bean. When exposed to air, these oils evaporate.

Bottom line – air is the enemy of coffee.

If you can’t find a way to effectively seal the bag, pour the ground coffee or beans into a separate container with a lid that seals tight.

Supermarket coffee bins.

Coffee Crime #4. Buying coffee beans from supermarket self-serve bins.

This is a variation on the last crime. It’s about the air.

When you walk down the coffee aisle at your local supermarket, you probably find a section with self-serve bins filled with coffee beans. Hold a bag under the spout, and open up the spout until the bag is full.

The things about these bins is that they give the impression that you’re getting fresh coffee beans. But you’re not. These bins are not sealed. They are open to the air at the top.

And...who knows how long the beans have been sitting there, losing more and more of their flavor. I don’t know about you, but I have never seen a line-up for these bins. It’s not like they are refilling each bin twice a day. Some of those beans have probably been sitting there for weeks.

Don’t buy from the bins! Buy sealed bags, preferably from roasters who have the decency to print the roasting date on the bag.

Brewing old coffee beans is a crime. Serving that coffee to family and friends is a felony!


Cold coffee with cream and sprinkles.

Coffee Crime #5. Drowning your coffee with sweet stuff.

I’m not a total coffee purist, or a coffee snob.

Plus I have a sweet tooth. So I have been known to drink an espresso-based drink with all the trimmings, including flakes of chocolate.

Just don’t confuse these drinks with coffee. And don’t waste good coffee when you make them. Use cheap beans. Hey, you’re just adding a little coffee flavor to a drink that is dominated by milk, cream and candies.

As crimes go, this one is more of a misdemeanor. Unless you use your best coffee beans and then kill the taste with all that sweet stuff.

These are just 5 crimes against coffee. 

If you want to dig deeper, and explore all 11 crimes against coffee, and how to solve them, check out my new guide, Coffee Crimes.

The Coffee Crimes Guide.

Most of us have a coffee criminal or two in our lives. This guide will put them back on the straight and narrow. Make better coffee...

Which coffee maker is best for you and your home?

Drip brewers, single serve brewers, pour-over brewers, the French press. So many choices! Find out which is best for you...

Read more of my coffee opinion posts.

In these posts I share my thoughts and opinions on various aspects of gourmet coffee – sometimes thoughtful, and sometimes more lighthearted. Find my posts here...

About the author: Nick Usborne, aka Coffee Detective, is a writer and long-time coffee enthusiast. Read more…


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