Why does my coffee taste like soap (what makes coffee taste like soap + more information)?

As we prepare coffee, the anticipation of that first sip can be ruined by a soapy and sour taste that can be found in coffee sometimes. As a regular coffee drinker, it makes you wonder why does coffee sometimes taste like soap?

A soapy taste in coffee can be due to several reasons ranging from the sanitation levels of the equipment to the quality of the ingredients used to prepare the coffee. Early mornings call for a hot cup of coffee to give you that energy boost you need to get your day started. Making coffee in the morning is one of my favorite things to do and sipping as I scroll my social media or think about my plans for the day is me-time that I love. It’s always a joy to take in the different flavors in coffee but sometimes this beverage can tend to have an odd taste and I assume anyone reading this article has experienced this soapy taste in coffee.

What makes coffee taste like soap?

Stale coffee beans

what makes coffee taste like soap

One of the leading causes of stale coffee beans is oxidation. This happens when your coffee beans have been exposed to oxygen. To prevent oxidation, store the coffee beans in an airtight container and away from direct sunlight. Keeping the coffee beans away from moisture, heat, and light also ensures that they remain fresh, thus preventing the coffee beans from becoming stale. It is also not advisable to store them in the refrigerator. The best option would be in a pantry since the area is dry and away from direct sunlight. Fortunately, there are available coffee bean containers that you can purchase so you do not have to struggle to look for the appropriate container.

Another important tip to prevent your coffee beans from becoming stale is to freshly grind the beans, to get the freshest taste possible. Evenly ground coffee beans produce the best coffee. Uneven ground beans result in under and over-extract which makes the flavor of your coffee acidic. Take the extra step to improve the flavor of your coffee by investing in a high-quality conical burr grinder.

Roasting process

Coffee with a soapy taste could signify that the green beans were not roasted properly. Roasting coffee beans is an integral step in the coffee-making process since it is when all the aromatic flavors are extracted from the green beans. While dark roast is common, especially in the US, over-roasted coffee will have a bitter or burnt taste. Many people including myself have blamed the bitter or burnt taste of coffee on their coffee preparation skills. But I realized that the quality of beans plays a huge role in the taste of the coffee. Experiment with different coffees to get the best roast for you.


As long as something is edible, we always take into account the most appropriate way to store it right? As we mentioned earlier, coffee beans need to be stored in airtight containers to prevent oxidation. Coffee beans also tend to pick up flavors in the air for various things such as fuel, onions, and garlic. Even without tasting, you can imagine the toll that all these different flavors will have on the taste of your coffee. It is also important to store the coffee beans when they are whole as opposed to when they are ground. This is because whole bean coffee oxidizes at a slower rate than ground coffee, increasing the shelf life. Grind the coffee beans just before using them. Freezing the coffee will also slow down oxidation.

Water quality

what makes coffee taste like soap

A cup of coffee in 98% water. As you brew your cup of coffee, you need to use water that you’d be comfortable enough to drink. Highly chlorinated water will make your coffee flat and will give it a bitter-sour taste. As you prepare your coffee you can use quality bottled water or invest in a high-quality filter. A high-quality filter will take out the odor, algae, chlorine, and other chemicals that might alter the taste of your coffee. If you use a low-quality filter, you can expect some chemicals in the water. Remember that even if you are using a high-quality filter, it is important to always keep it clean since a dirty filter will add a moldy or soapy taste to your coffee.

Dirty equipment

Imagine using a knife to cut an onion, then using the same knife to slice an apple. Your apple will have a hint of the onion taste and your healthy snack will be ruined. Similarly, using a dirty espresso machine, coffee maker or French press will change the taste of your coffee. Ensure all the tools used to brew your coffee are clean. A dishwasher can tend to leave a detergent film on the cups, which can make your coffee taste like soap.

What should I do when my coffee tastes like soap?

The first step is to ensure that all the equipment you are using is clean and properly rinsed out. Residual soap or detergent from the previous cleaning will give your coffee an unpleasant taste. Use warm water to rinse the equipment. If cleaning the equipment does not solve the issue, pay attention to the extraction process. Figuring out the right amount of time that the coffee beans need to be extracted is a skill that every lover of coffee should aim to learn. If your coffee tastes soapy, tweak the brew time to achieve the optimal extraction needed for the coffee beans. Under-extracted coffee results in sour-tasting coffee, at times, described as a soapy taste while over-extracted coffee gives coffee a burnt or bitter taste.

Another solution is to ensure the quality of the water is good. A rule of thumb is to use water that you would be happy to drink. The water used should not have chlorine nor should it have too many minerals. It should be clear, colorless, and odor-free. Store the coffee beans in an airtight container and away from direct sunlight. The environment should also be free from moisture and heat.


How long does it take coffee to oxidize?

It can take a week for coffee to oxidize.

What should coffee smell like?

Coffee should have a nutty, smoky, and lightly caramelized smell.

What should coffee taste like?

Coffee has a balance of natural nutty sweetness which is complimented by a refreshing bitterness and acidity.

Do I need a new coffee maker when my coffee starts tasting like soap?

No, when your coffee starts tasting like soap, thoroughly clean the coffee maker and the cups used.

Is coffee that tastes like soap bad for you?

Coffee that tastes like soap isn’t bad for you but it tastes unpleasant.

Should I drink coffee that tastes like soap?

It is not dangerous to drink coffee that tastes like soap, but the taste will be unpleasant.

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