Nothing is more annoying than a mouthful of grounds or “grinds” in your morning coffee, especially for those of us who aren’t morning people. If this is a recurring problem for you, you might be worried that there’s a persistent issue with your coffee machine. So how do you stop coffee grounds from getting into coffee?
To stop coffee grounds from getting in your coffee, the most likely issue is that your coffee filter has fallen over or ruptured. However, if you check your filter and it seems fine, other possible issues could be causing the problem, including problems with the coffee maker itself.
This article will outline several potential problems that could be causing you to have grounds filter down into your morning coffee and identify ways to solve them. Believe it or not, most of the time, the cause is more simple than you think.
Why Do I Get Grinds in My Coffee?
The most likely reason you are still getting grinds in your coffee is a coffee filter malfunction. Coffee filters are thin and flimsy, and it’s easy for them to tear or get knocked over. However, it’s also entirely possible that the problem is something else.
Run through this list of potential problems, and you’ll be able to identify the problem that’s causing grinds to filter through to your coffee.
Note: Some of these solutions will only apply to a drip coffee maker. If you have a coffee maker that uses pods or are using a French press and are still getting grinds in your coffee, this article will explore problems with those coffee makers as well.
Potential Filter Issues
The most likely issue is that your filter has either malfunctioned or broken in the coffee maker. Luckily, this is an easy fix—but you may have to throw out the pot of coffee you just made and start over.
Note: This issue will apply to classic drip coffee makers only. If you’re using a K-cup or a French press and are getting grinds in your coffee, this article will explore potential issues with these coffee makers as well.
Filter Has Fallen Over
Nine times out of ten, the reason you’re getting grounds in your coffee is simply that the filter has fallen over. If you improperly place the filter in the coffee maker or the water has clipped one side of the filter, some of the grounds may have spilled over the filter and into the coffee pot itself.
Check the inside of your coffee pot and see if the filter has folded over and begun to spill. If that’s the case, throw out this batch and make another pot of coffee. First, make sure that the filter is fitted snugly into its spot before filling with grounds. Then, as the coffee drips down, hold the lid open and make sure the filter doesn’t fall over.
If it looks secure after a minute or two, you can drop the lid and let the coffee brew to completion. Problem solved!
If, however, you can’t get the filter to stay up no matter how carefully you place it in, consider getting a new coffee maker. For one of the best drip coffee makers online, look into the BOSCARE Programmable Coffee Maker from Amazon.com. You can set it to turn on and off at certain times automatically, and you can get it in versions that will make either five or twelve cups at a time.
Filter Has a Hole in It
Maybe your filter hasn’t fallen over and seems as though it’s sitting just fine in the coffee maker. If you’re still getting grounds in your coffee, try taking the wet filter out and examining it.
Lift it by its sides and try to transfer it to a plate, but take caution; your filter may have ripped at the bottom and begun leaking coffee grounds through. If you try to pick the filter up and it falls apart, it has likely ripped during the brewing process. When the filter rips, the grounds fall into the coffee pot. There’s often a mess around the coffee machine as well.
The only thing to do in this case is to buy new coffee filters. The brand you have on hand is likely too thin, and the hot water combined with the weight of the coffee grounds simply took it apart. You can also use a cheesecloth to filter your coffee if you don’t have any other kinds of filters handy.
Filter Doesn’t Fit
Maybe the kind of coffee filter bought doesn’t quite fit the type of coffee maker you have. You may not have thought that was such a big deal or even used two filters to make up for it, but those solutions will rarely be effective.
Using the wrong sized coffee filter will lead to subpar coffee no matter how you try to make up for it, especially if the filter is too small. In addition, these flimsy filters won’t maintain their structure and probably will fall over no matter what.
Again, the only thing you can do in the case of a faulty coffee filter is to buy a new one, though, in a pinch, a cheesecloth will also work. When buying new filters, consider buying several different sizes and trying them out. It’s not always obvious what size you need.
Potential Coffee Grounds Issues
Suppose your coffee grounds are still overflowing into your coffee, but your coffee filter seems to be intact. In that case, the issue must lie elsewhere. Take a look at the kind of coffee you’ve been using and how much of it you’ve been adding. Here’s how to identify and fix both of these problems.
Note: Again, this issue will apply to drip coffee makers. If you have another kind of coffee maker, read on for solutions to potential problems with these kinds of machines.
Overfilling the Coffee Grounds
You might like your coffee quite strong in the morning, as many people do. Piling your coffee maker high with grounds will achieve that dark brown color you crave. However, it’s also highly likely that this is causing your coffee ground problem.
But suppose you are repeatedly getting grounds in your homemade coffee. In that case, there’s a possibility that there’s nothing wrong with your coffee filter, and the problem lies with how much you are filling your coffee maker up.
To solve this problem, simply make another pot of coffee. Put a moderate amount of coffee grounds in the filter, or put in the amount you usually do and take out several spoonfuls. Then, brew the coffee again and check out the results.
If the problem is solved, simply don’t fill up the filter with so many grounds in the future.
Using the Wrong Coffee Grounds
Suppose you aren’t getting grounds in your coffee but instead find a kind of sediment buildup at the bottom. In that case, it’s a possibility that you’re using the wrong type of coffee grounds for this coffee machine. Often people will accidentally use espresso coffee grounds instead of regular coffee.
Coffee used for espresso is ground much more finely than the kind of drip-coffee most common in the United States. These grounds aren’t meant to be processed with a drip coffee machine and can brew unevenly.
If you are getting this gritty coffee ground mixture into your coffee regularly, check to make sure you aren’t using espresso coffee grounds instead of drip coffee grounds. Using regular coffee grounds should fix the problem.
If You Own a Single-Serve Coffee Maker
None of this advice about coffee grounds or coffee filters will apply to you if you don’t own a drip coffee machine. Many homes have a single-serve coffee machine that uses coffee pods instead of loose coffee grounds in filters, like a Keurig machine.
Believe it or not, single-serve coffee makers are much less likely to brew incorrectly. This is because they won’t usually get grinds in your coffee. If you’re looking to buy one of the best ones on the market, the Keurig K-Classic Coffee Maker is available on Amazon and is capable of holding 48 ounces of water.
It’s far less likely that a single-serve machine is having this issue. So if your Keurig is leaving coffee grounds in your coffee, try to solve this issue right away. Here are some potential problems with your single-serve coffee maker.
Coffee Pods Are Bad or Defective
If your machine usually works well, and you recently bought a new pack of coffee pods for it which are producing coffee with grounds in it, you might find that the pods themselves are malfunctioning.
Examine the coffee pods themselves both before and after brewing. You might notice that the bottoms are flimsy or possibly have a tear in them.
Take a look at the plastic seal on top of the pods. If you find that the edges are slightly “lifted” from the sides, the grounds may be leaking out the sides and into your coffee from the top.
If you’re still not sure, clean out your coffee maker, then use a different brand of pods to brew a cup of coffee. There’s a good chance that this cup of coffee will turn out just fine with no grounds in it.
If that’s the case, you simply have faulty coffee pods. Please take a look at the brand of pods you bought and avoid them in the future.
Need To Clean Machine
Because of how single-serve machines work, sometimes they get a buildup of grounds on their needle tip or in the slot where the pod is placed. So you’ll need to clean the whole machine before using it again.
Please clean up the machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions, which you can usually find in the user’s manual that came with it. If you’re using a Keurig, you can find instructions on cleaning for most current models here.
After cleaning, run the machine to brew cups of coffee without a pod in it until the water runs completely clear. It should only take once or twice if you’ve cleaned correctly. Then try and brew another cup of coffee and see if you have grounds in it.
If You Own a French Press
French presses are popular because they let more of the natural oils in the coffee beans into your cup of coffee, making it extra tasty. French presses don’t use paper filters, but metal ones. That’s what allows the oils to seep through.
However, this leads to its own potential problems with brewing that let too much sediment or grounds into your cup of coffee. Here are some of the most common issues that lead to sludge in your French press coffee.
Grounds in your coffee usually look like sludge or mud piled at the bottom of your coffee. However, if you’re using a French press, you might see and taste something a little grittier and looks more like very fine sand than mud.
Believe it or not, this natural layer of sediment is a certainty of French press coffee, so before deciding that your press is broken, determine if you’re looking at coffee grounds of sediment.
A little bit of sediment is typical in French press coffee. Paper filters soak up any impurity in the coffee, including this small amount of sediment that metal filters will let pass through. It makes the coffee taste better, but it can be off-putting to get a mouthful of sand!
If this small amount of sediment is unpleasant to you, you can pour the coffee through a paper filter, but that defeats the purpose of having a French press in the first place. Instead, you may be better off with a drip coffee machine.
Broken Plunger or Filter
Although sediment is natural in French press coffee, coffee grounds are not. You’ll be able to tell if there’s an excess of grounds in your French press coffee by watching as you raise the plunger after brewing.
Watch the sides of the coffee maker as you pull. If grounds are trickling their way into the brewed coffee on the sides, you probably need to replace this piece of your French press. Check your user’s manual or call the manufacturer to figure out if you can get the plunger and filter replaced for free.
If not, it may be worth it to get a new French press entirely. If you’re thinking of getting a French press, the Mueller French Press (available on Amazon.com) has a double insulation system and a stainless steel body that will protect it from rust and damage.
How To Separate Coffee Grounds From Brewed Coffee
All this advice is well and good, but what are you supposed to do if you have a cup full of sludgy coffee? Maybe you simply don’t have time to brew an entire pot of coffee before work or school. Luckily, this is a relatively easy fix.
So what is the most common method to separate coffee grounds from coffee that’s already been brewed?
Pour Through Another Filter
If you have a cup of coffee that’s full of grounds, the easiest thing to do is pour it through another paper coffee filter. However, this can be messy if you’re overzealous with how quickly you pour.
Take a filter and stretch it loosely over the top of your coffee cup, then pour coffee from the pot (or from another mug) into the filter, slowly enough so that it doesn’t splatter but quickly enough that it doesn’t dribble down the coffee mug.
Now you should have a filter full of coffee grounds and a clean cup of coffee!
Use a Cheesecloth or Mesh Strainer
If you happen to have a cheesecloth or mesh strainer on hand, you can use these to filter the grounds out of your coffee, too. This will leave less waste than paper filters and are easy to clean.
For an excellent mesh strainer, the ZIIVARD Fine Mesh Strainer (available on Amazon.com) is useful not just for separating coffee grounds but for sifting flour, draining pasta, and dozens of other kitchen tasks.
If you’d rather get a new cheesecloth, one of the best options on Amazon.com is the Cotton Farm Premium Quality Cheesecloth. It’s made of 100% Mediterranean cotton and will last much longer than other cheesecloths due to its dense weave.
If you’re getting coffee grounds into your cup of coffee frequently, the most likely problem you have is with the coffee filter in your machine. Ensure that the filter hasn’t ripped or fallen out of place, and make sure that you haven’t overfilled your coffee machine with grounds. If you have a French press or a Keurig and are getting grinds in your coffee, the problem might be something else entirely.
If all else fails, it’s probably time to upgrade your coffee maker. To avoid coffee grounds entirely, your best bet is to use a single-serve coffee machine. A high-quality drip coffee machine will also keep grounds and sediment out of the coffee.