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Can You Put Milk in a Coffee Maker? 4 Reasons to Avoid It

coffee machine and a cup of coffee

If you are a coffee drinker and own a coffee maker at home, you know that you put water in it to make a pot of the delicious brew you love. However, many caffeine addicts wonder if they can put milk in their coffee maker instead of water. Unfortunately, the answer to this question is no.

There are, in fact, several reasons you should reserve your coffee maker for only coffee made with water. We will talk about those reasons and more in the article below.

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Top 4 Reasons You Shouldn’t Put Milk in a Coffee Maker

There are many reasons you shouldn’t put milk into your coffee maker.

1. A Breeding Ground for Bacteria

This is the biggest reason not to brew milk in your coffee maker. It can lead to serious health problems.

Many coffee drinkers who have decided to use milk in their coffee makers don’t realize that coffee makers with milk are the perfect breeding grounds for bacteria to form. This is after brewing the coffee, so if you haven’t yet, empty your coffee maker and wash it well before using it again.

If you don’t clean the coffee maker well enough, the milk residue builds up and forms bacteria. This can lead to problems with your digestive system, including vomiting, diarrhea, and much worse if you keep drinking coffee from a bacteria-infected machine.

oat milk froth
Image Credit: jaanall, Shutterstock

2. Could Damage Your Coffee Maker

Milk is thicker than water, and moving through the lines of your coffee maker is going to take longer and could result in the coffee maker becoming clogged or even damaged beyond repair.

Your coffee maker might withstand one or even two cycles, but it will eventually become clogged with burnt milk and stop working unless it’s cleaned between uses.

Cleaning a coffee maker that has used milk for a brewing cycle presents its own set of unique problems.

3. Cleaning Becomes a Nightmare

The residual milk gets trapped in the machine’s mechanisms and causes every pot of coffee you brew afterward to taste bad if you don’t get every little trace of the milk cleaned out of the machine.

Milk contains proteins and fats that water doesn’t have, meaning the milk will thicken and leave a nasty residue behind. If you still want to brew milk in your coffee maker, you’ll have to take apart each piece of it after every use and clean all the milk out.

a man inserts a container of water into a coffee maker
Image Credit: HENADZI KlLENT, Shutterstock

4. Makes Your Coffee Taste Bad

Your machine is designed to make coffee with water because the water helps extract the flavor from the coffee grounds. If you use milk instead, you’re not going to get the same results because milk won’t extract the flavor the same way. The result is a horrible-tasting mug of coffee that might turn you off coffee forever, and no one wants that, do they?

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How to Make Coffee Taste Less Bitter

The main reason coffee drinkers want to put milk in their coffee maker is they want the coffee to taste less bitter and milkier. Luckily, there are a few ways to achieve this without ruining your expensive coffee maker or making your family sick.

iced mocha with milk and coffee ice cubes
Image Credit: Stefan Csontos, Shutterstock

Use More Milk in Your Mug of Coffee

A straightforward solution is just to add more milk to your morning mug of coffee. However, it’s important to note a few things about this. First, the more milk you add to your coffee, the weaker it will be; however, it will be less bitter.

The type of dairy you use is also a contributing factor in how your coffee tastes. You will get different textures when you use foam, liquid, or creamer in your coffee, so determine which you like better before you stock up.

Lastly, the temperature of the milk plays a role in the flavor as well. Cold milk added to hot coffee is going to make the coffee creamier. You can also use different grind levels, different coffee beans, and a lighter roast to ensure your coffee isn’t bitter.

If these tips don’t work, you need to check into getting a new machine since yours may have too much calcium buildup to be saved, and you need to let it exit gracefully.

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Final Thoughts

So, “can you put milk in your coffee maker?” The answer is no. Of course, you technically can if you want to, but you’re not going to like the results. There are much better ways to make your coffee less bitter and creamier than ruining your coffee maker. Follow our tips, and soon you’ll enjoy a less bitter, creamier cup of coffee whenever you like.

Featured Image Credit: Nigel Cohen, Pixabay


Kate MacDonnell

Kate is a lifelong coffee enthusiast and homebrewer who enjoys writing for coffee websites and sampling every kind of coffee known to man. She’s tried unusual coffees from all over the world and owns an unhealthy amount of coffee gear.

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