Can you put milk in a coffee maker?

By Brooke Davis •  Updated: 11/02/20 •  6 min read

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I love my coffee milky. A cup of cappuccino, latte, macchiato or just plain ol’ coffee and milk will get me up and going for the entire day.

If you love drinking your coffee with milk, you’ve surely wondered, can you put milk in a coffee maker?

The short answer is no, you shouldn’t put milk in a coffee maker. In this article, I’ll list down all the reasons why that is, plus alternative options for making coffee with milk. Let’s get started.

Can you put milk in a coffee maker

Why You Shouldn’t Put Milk in a Coffee Maker

Adding your milk directly into the coffee maker is certainly easier than heating up milk in a separate pot. Plus, it’ll spare you from washing extra dishes.

Technically, you can put milk in a coffee maker. But just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. There’s a reason why most coffee makers come with explicit instructions saying you shouldn’t put milk in the water container.

It Won’t Taste Good

Coffee makers are specifically designed to make brewed coffee by heating up water. If you replace water with milk, the consistency and taste of your coffee will suffer, and you’ll most likely end up drinking bad coffee.

After all, milk doesn’t taste that great when it’s heated too much.

Furthermore, as your machine won’t be able to get everything out of the coffee as it does with water, the milk may overpower the taste of the coffee. As a result, you’ll be left with milk with a hint of coffee, instead of the other way around.

Bacteria May Develop Inside the Machine

Another reason why you shouldn’t replace water with milk is that bacteria may develop inside your coffee machine.

Mold may grow on everything the milk has touched during the coffee-making process. This causes the machine to become unsanitary and it would more than likely make the coffees you’re going to make in the future taste unpleasant.

At the very least. you’d have to run a cleaning cycle or two immediately after every time you make your coffee. But regardless of how much you clean your coffee maker, there will always be milk residue you can only remove by completely disengaging the machine’s parts. 

Getting sick because a cup of coffee, no matter how creamy and delicious, is simply not worth it. Plus, it’ll take you longer to clean the entire machine than if you used a separate pot to boil the milk.

Milk May Clog the Machine

Clogging is closely related to sanitation. As discussed, bacteria may develop if you replace water with milk as the residual milk in the machine may spoil. Milk contains proteins that aren’t present in water, so when this builds up, it’ll coagulate and clog up the machine.

This not only causes unnecessary frustration, but it might force you to buy a new coffee maker, as well.

How You Should Prepare Your Coffee

Instead of risking bacteria and bad-tasting coffee, make your coffee like you normally do and add milk on top of it afterward. At least this way, you won’t have to worry about damaging your coffee maker.

Alternatively, you can pour the cream first and then add the coffee so it’ll stir itself. Doing so keeps you from getting your spoon dirty.

To prepare your coffee and milk steaming hot, you can use this technique instead:

  • Place your milk in a small saucepan and turn the heat to medium-high. Remember to keep your eye on the milk so it won’t rise and mess up your stovetop.
  • Once it comes to a boil, immediately reduce the temperature.
  • Leave it to simmer for another 1 to 3 minutes before pouring it over your coffee.

If you like your coffee with foam, pour the milk you’ve just boiled in a gentle but quick stream 2 inches above your glass. This will cool down the coffee mixture and, as a result, form a layer of foam on top of the glass.

If you like your coffee sweet, I recommend you add your sugar before you pour the milk in. The amount of milk you add depends on your personal preference. I personally like my coffee super creamy, so I add a lot of milk. 

How to make coffee with milk in coffee maker


Can you put milk in a coffee maker instead of water?

You can, but you shouldn’t. The key thing to remember here is that water doesn’t go directly from the tank to the pot. Water goes through all the channels of the machine, subsequently leaving residual water throughout, before dripping onto your mug.

Now, imagine if you replaced it with milk. The milk will spoil and gunk up the machine, making it a breeding ground for bacteria. Your next cup of coffee will taste rotten, burnt, or just plain bad.

What happens if you run coffee through a coffee maker?

Brewing coffee with coffee will result in a stronger-tasting coffee. Coffee aficionados call it a “double brew.” And, since you’re either doubling the amount of ground coffee or the amount of coffee altogether, you’ll get double the amount of caffeine you’d normally get in a standard coffee.

Unlike milk, running coffee through a coffee maker won’t destroy your machine. Regardless, it’ll make your coffee taste extremely bitter. So, if you like your coffee bitter, go for it!

Can I put milk in my espresso machine?

It’s best not to. Similar to replacing water in a coffee maker, heating up the milk may damage the inside of your espresso machine.

Plus, while steamed milk in espresso-based drinks is typically heated to around 150 to 160°F, espresso machines extract the taste from coffee with water at temperatures of 200°F.

The problem here is that milk curdles at 180°F. So, not only will milk hinder the coffee extraction process but you’ll be forced to drink curdled milk. And while curdled milk is mostly safe to consume, it isn’t the most appetizing thing in the world. It looks kind of gross, too.


While it seems convenient to replace water with milk in a coffee maker, it actually may cause more harm than good. Therefore, you shouldn’t ever put milk in a coffee maker.

The good news is, that pouring milk after you’ve prepared your coffee guarantees great-tasting coffee just how you like it. You won’t have to worry about sanitation, as well.

Brooke Davis

Hi everyone, my name is Brooke and I’m a Barista and freelance writer. I love brewing coffee and my favorite coffee drink is without doubt an Americano (espresso with added hot water). When I’m not busy making or writing about coffee you’ll find me hanging out at the beach with friends in California where I am currently residing. Follow me on: Linkedin

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