Bacteria In Coffee Makers Might Have You Rethinking Your Daily Percolation

Before you start your morning brew consider this: there might be a lot of bacteria in coffee makers. Researchers at the University of Valencia have found that pod-based espresso makers might not just be the source of your daily caffeine fix, but they might also be breeding bacteria en masse. My morning scoop of Trader Joe's instant coffee isn't looking so stupid now, is it, fancy pants? Apparently, the bacteria in coffee makers grows in the trays that catch the liquid run-off, as caffeine-resistant bacteria find it to be a lovely environment to thrive in.

Caffeine has many antibacterial properties, but as we've learned from every Hollywood movie where a disease threatens humanity, bacteria can evolve (and quickly!) to be totally resistant to antigens. While this isn't as dramatic as I'm making it sound, I am picturing a movie staring John Cusack in which caffeine-resistant bacteria take over the world. I digress; the researchers used ten Nespresso brand espresso machines (sorry George Clooney) in their study, monitoring the bacterial growth in the trays over a period of two months. In that time, Scientific American reports, “They found that nine of the ten machines harbored residues rich in Enterococcus bacteria, a typical marker of human fecal contamination. And another common resident was Pseudomonas—which has both benign and pathogenic strains.”

If that sounds like a lot of big words, basically, poop. Also, "pseudomonas" can actually break down caffeine, so might eventually be used to decaffeinate coffee, or cleaning residue out of waterways, so it's not all bad news (especially if decaf is your thing). Meanwhile, the bacteria is only growing in the trays, not the pods themselves, so unless you're drinking the lukewarm water run-off from the tray, you're not actually ingesting the bacteria in your coffee.

So go ahead, enjoy your cup of NespressJo!

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