If you have a coffee maker at home, you know it’s designed to brew coffee with water. However, many people love their coffee with a lot of milk, so they ask themselves: can you put milk in a coffee maker?
You should never put milk in a coffee maker instead of water for several reasons. Milk has proteins inside that make a perfect breeding ground for bacteria after brewing. Also, it coagulates under high temperatures, so it may clog or even damage your coffee maker.
To add to it, it’s tough to clean the coffee maker after brewing coffee with milk in it. The residual milk will stay inside the mechanism, causing every coffee you brew later to taste bad.
Keep reading if you want to learn more about why you shouldn’t put milk in your coffee maker and the alternatives to make your coffee milkier or less bitter.
Can You Put Milk In A Coffee Maker?
If you want to put milk inside your coffee maker but don’t know if you can do it, the short answer is – no. You shouldn’t put milk inside the coffee maker because it is unsanitary.
It can cause problems with your health and damage the machine. Let’s look at particular reasons and issues that may occur if you put milk inside a coffee maker.
Your Coffee Maker Can Break
Coffee makers brew water into coffee. That’s what they’re made to do. Replacing water with milk will cause damage to the machine for several reasons. Milk is denser than water, and it thickens under high temperatures.
That may cause clogs and damage to the mechanism, ultimately leading to your coffee maker breaking down.
It may withstand one or two brewing cycles with milk, but if you don’t clean the machine completely and thoroughly after using milk in it, it will most likely break down due to clogs and burnt milk getting inside the mechanism.
When it comes to cleaning the coffee maker, though, it’s a whole new problem to tackle.
It Is Very Hard To Clean The Coffee Maker Afterwards
As I mentioned, milk is denser than water and contains fats and proteins that water doesn’t have. When you brew coffee in a coffee maker with milk, it will thicken and leave residue on the mechanical parts of your machine.
That residue doesn’t occur when you brew with water. Water simply evaporates, so you don’t have to clean the entire mechanism after every brew.
However, if you put milk inside, you need to take everything apart to clean all the milk residue thoroughly.
If you don’t, it will burn even more after the second or third brew, ultimately leading to challenging clogs and machine malfunctions. But, the biggest problem is that it can cause serious health problems.
Burnt Milk Residue Is A Great Breeding Ground For Bacteria
Using milk in your coffee maker instead of water will make a perfect breeding ground for bacteria cultures to develop.
As I mentioned earlier, milk has proteins and fats that coagulate and stick to the machine’s mechanical parts. If you don’t clean it thoroughly, bacteria will develop more and more.
The bacteria can cause health problems, especially within your digestive system, including diarrhea, vomiting, etc. And, in the end, it’ll cause the coffee to taste bad.
Your Coffee Will Taste Bad
The developed bacteria will make your coffee taste terrible and sour. Even if you clean the coffee maker thoroughly and rest assured there are no bacteria, burnt milk mixed with bitter coffee won’t taste any good.
The machine is designed to brew coffee with water because water can extract the most taste, aroma, and caffeine from the coffee grounds. If you do it with milk, you won’t get the same effect.
The consistency and texture of your coffee will be bad, and the taste of milk will diminish the taste of coffee. Instead of getting that creamy, wonderful texture you want when adding milk to your coffee, you’ll end up with milk with a hint of coffee instead of having it the other way around.
If you want to avoid these problems, you should try alternative ways to brew your coffee with milk. Adding milk afterward in coffee that’s already brewed with water is how you should do it, and you can get incredible results if you do it right.
Can You Put Brewed Coffee In A Coffee Maker Instead Of Water?
The only liquid you can put in your coffee maker instead of water without dealing with any of the problems mentioned above – is coffee that’s already brewed previously. It’s called a “double brew,” where you replace water with brewed coffee and brew it inside the coffee maker once again.
You’ll get a lot stronger taste and caffeine content, and your coffee will be even more bitter. Furthermore, it won’t damage the machine in any way, nor will it cause clogs, as brewed coffee is also water-based. As long as there’s no milk or cream in it, you’re good to go.
You might ask why I am mentioning the more robust, more bitter double brew in an article for people who love milkier, creamier coffee. Well, if you’re like me, you love adding a lot of milk and cream to your coffee, but sometimes, it can overpower the taste of the coffee.
Suppose you don’t have an espresso machine. In that case, the closest you can get to that robust and excellent coffee taste is making a double brew.
That way, you’ll have a great, strong base for your coffee, and it won’t get lost after you add milk and cream. You’ll get the creamy, milky texture you love without losing the taste of coffee.
Can You Put Milk Inside Of An Espresso Machine Instead Of Water?
Espresso machines work differently than your regular coffee maker at home. An espresso machine uses water, heated between 85 and 90 degrees Celsius. And presses it through ground coffee under high pressure – anywhere between 8 and 20 bars, which is an incredible amount of pressure (to compare, your car tires are pumped at only 2-2.5 bars).
Now, if you replace water with milk, it can cause severe malfunctions to the machine. First of all, milk coagulates when heated to those temperatures, so it may clog the espresso machine very fast. Second, the milk won’t react like water reacts when put under that kind of pressure.
Your coffee texture will be bad. You won’t extract nearly enough taste, aroma, and caffeine from the coffee grounds, and there’s a high chance that your espresso machine will malfunction.
However, the good news is that espresso machines usually have something called milk frothers.
You don’t have to put your milk in a pot and wait for it to heat up on the stove. Milk frothers steam the milk in seconds, making that wonderful, foamy texture we all love in our coffee.
Therefore, instead of replacing water with milk and damaging the entire machine (or at least create health hazards), brew your coffee normally with water. Use the milk frothers and add the steamed milk later.
You’ll get the creamy texture you want, taste the coffee perfectly, and avoid any possible damage or health hazards to your espresso machine.
How To Make Your Coffee Taste Less Bitter?
The main reason why people want to replace water with milk inside their coffee maker is to make the coffee taste less bitter and milkier.
Instead of damaging your coffee maker that way (or making a ton of work for yourself with cleaning the components thoroughly after each use), you can achieve that “milkier” effect in other ways.
Use More Milk In Your Coffee
You can make the obvious choice to simply add more milk to your coffee after you brew it. You will reduce the amount of coffee inside your beverage, highlighting the taste of milk. Several factors will determine the taste and consistency of your drink.
The first factor is the amount of milk you put inside your coffee – the more milk you put inside, the “weaker” the coffee will be, which means it will taste less bitter.
Second, the type of dairy you use will also determine the taste and texture of your drink. Even if the amount is the same, you’ll get different textures when putting liquid, steamed, or foamed milk in your coffee.
Furthermore, the cream is also a type of dairy frequently used for coffee, but it gives the thickest texture to your coffee out of all the milk types I just mentioned.
Third, the milk temperature will also play a crucial role in the texture and taste of your beverage. If you put cold milk inside your coffee, you’ll get a creamier texture.
Still, it will cool down your coffee faster, meaning you’ll need to drink it more quickly if you want to maintain the quality of your drink.
Use Different Coffee Beans
If you want your coffee to taste less bitter, try changing the coffee beans you use. For instance, Robusta beans are more bitter than Arabica beans.
Many people use Robusta, though, because it’s cheaper. If you don’t want to pay a lot more for pure Arabica beans, you can always try using a mix.
Mixed beans (for instance, half Robusta, half Arabica) will have a lot less bitter taste, so it’s a great alternative you can try.
Use Lighter Roast Levels
One more thing that makes coffee taste bitter is if you use a dark roast. Some manufacturers buy lower-quality beans because they are cheaper and try to hide the bland, bad taste by roasting them to a dark roast.
Dark roasted beans have the most robust, most bitter taste, so you should try using less roasted beans instead.
Light roast is the least bitter roast because all the taste and aroma don’t get extracted from the beans that fast. However, the light roast has the highest amount of caffeine, so you should consider that before using it. Especially if you’re used to drinking several cups of coffee a day.
I recommend medium roasted beans, though. I found the medium roast to be the most balanced roast, with enough caffeine to keep you going, but also enough coffee taste we all love so much.
Use Different Grind Levels
You probably didn’t know that the grind level also plays a vital role in the taste of your coffee. Finer ground beans mean they are ground into smaller particles.
Therefore, when you brew coffee with them, water comes in contact with more coffee, extracting more taste, aroma, caffeine, and other nutrients.
If you change to coarse ground beans, the particles of coffee will be bigger, meaning that less coffee will come into contact with water. Therefore, less taste will get extracted from the beans, meaning your coffee will taste less bitter.
Best Coffee Makers
Now that you know you shouldn’t put milk inside your coffee maker, one more way to brew better coffee is simply to get a better coffee maker. There are several excellent options, but I’ll give you some recommendations to help you narrow down your choices.
Best overall – Hamilton Beach 49976 FlexBrew
If you want the best of the best, you should try the Hamilton Beach 49976 FlexBrew coffee maker. It’s an incredible machine that has three different ways to brew your coffee.
You can brew your coffee with grounds in a 12-cup capacity pot, or you can make a single-cup brew on the other side.
You can brew with a K-cup pod, ground coffee, or yet another type of pod. It’s incredible because the coffee stays warm inside the pot for two hours, and you don’t have to turn the power off manually – it will turn off automatically itself.
But, what separates this coffee maker from others is the option to customize the brew strength manually. Whether you like stronger coffee or you want it to be milder, you can easily adjust it with only a few clicks on the machine.
It’s a bit more expensive than competing models, but it’s worth the price. You get the best coffee every time, whether you choose the 12-cup pot side or the single-cup brew on the other side.
Budget Pick – Black+Decker CM1160W
The Black+Decker CM1160W is an incredible coffee maker made out of stainless steel and an excellent 12-cup capacity. It has rubberized buttons and an easy-to-read display to help you determine the brewing program you prefer the most.
Also, there’s the keep-hot carafe plate that safely keeps the coffee warm for a full hour after brewing.
One option I found incredible is the Sneak-A-Cup option this coffee maker has. I hate when I wake up in the morning, eager to drink my first cup and then stand next to the coffee maker waiting for the entire brew process to finish.
The Sneak-A-Cup option temporarily stops the flow, so you can pour the first cup of coffee in your mug and then let the brewing process continue.
The machine also has a 2-hour automatic turn-off system, so you don’t have to worry about your coffee maker staying turned on when you leave for work.
It’s a great machine that has fewer options but makes incredible coffee nonetheless. Plus, the price is very affordable, even if you’re on a tight budget.
Best Espresso Machines
If you want the best coffee you can get or simply want a strong base to make your favorite milky coffee-based beverage, you should buy an espresso machine and enjoy the incredible results every time.
Don’t worry; you don’t need those huge machines you see in coffee shops – there are great espresso machines suitable for every kitchen.
Best overall – Breville BES870XL Barista Express Espresso Machine
I love my Breville BES870XL Barista Express Espresso Machine incredibly much. It is one of the more expensive home espresso machines, but it is also one of the best.
If it were just a bit bigger, you could easily use it in any professional coffee shop and brew the finest coffee on the market.
It has numerous options, including the brew strength, pressure levels, the amount of liquid, etc. Everything is easily set up with dial mechanisms, and it can hold up to 4 pounds of coffee grounds.
You can set the grind size with a dial, and the milk frother makes fantastic microfoam-frothed milk. I won’t get any further into details, but if you want the best home espresso machine that money can buy, this one is a perfect choice.
Budget pick – Brewsly 15 Bar Espresso Machine
The Brewsly 15 Bar Espresso Machine will change the way you see coffee. It’s a compact machine that ramps up to tremendous 15-bar pressure, extracting all the best nutrients, taste, and aroma from your coffee grounds.
The machine is made of stainless steel and allows you to adjust your brew entirely to your preferences, including the pressure, ground size, and separate control over water and milk temperature.
The milk frother is very simple to use. Even though the machine doesn’t have as much capacity as some other espresso machines, you can easily make excellent espresso, cappuccino, macchiato, or cafe latte with it.
It’s very compact, making it the perfect choice for small kitchens that don’t have a lot of room to spare.