Does Stainless Steel Affect Coffee Flavour?




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Asking about does stainless steel affect coffee flavour is bound to have an animated and passionate discussion. 

Specialty coffee is an extremely sensitive topic and a discussion on any of its aspects attracts widespread views and comments. 

Coffee can be consumed from a wide variety of different cups, mugs, and thermos flasks, stainless steel being one of the most popular materials used.

So, does stainless steel affect coffee flavour? Stainless steel has rough surfaces and reacts with some of the 1000-plus compounds found in coffee, this reaction removes some of the fine notes in coffee and therefore, can affect coffee flavour.

The internet is divided over the issue, and as the cup or mug holds the ready brewed coffee for longer than the coffee makers keep it in its elaborate system, coffee lovers have predominantly one perception about it while people in the coffee industry have a more accommodating approach to the issue.

This article will help you save time and money so you can make the right choice for yourself and your lifestyle.

Is it Safe to Drink Coffee From Stainless Steel?

Most coffee lovers tend to believe that coffee mugs made of stainless steel affect the taste of the coffee, if not the flavour too.

barista, espresoo machine, cafe, coffee shop

But none of them seem to think that it is unsafe to drink coffee from a stainless steel mug.

After all, we all have been using steel teaspoons and various other kitchen appliances made of stainless steel for all these years.

There has never been a report saying using stainless steel pots can be harmful.

Stainless steel is a stable and inert metal that does not participate in any chemical reaction.

This means when we put things hot or cold in utensils made of this metal, there is no way the stainless steel is going to break down and contaminate the food or beverage. 

People drink hot milk from stainless steel cups, and there is no harm ever reported. The case of coffee is no different. As far as safety is concerned, yes, stainless steel is safe for drinking coffee.

Benefits of Stainless Steel for Coffee Drinkers?

Most of the coffee shops use coffee makers made of steel. This is particularly true about the most popular espresso coffees.

But all these coffees coming out of stainless steel coffee makers taste great with all fine notes and flavour intact.

Then, what makes this debate relevant?

Since stainless steel is a hugely popular material that gives most of our kitchenware, finding stainless steel coffee mugs in homes is no surprise.

They are also durable and unbreakable. 

For this reason, they can be a great benefit for coffee drinkers during travel, especially when you are tracking or living in tents during an outdoor camping trip.

coffee flavour, stainless steel coffee mug

Ceramic and glass mugs can be more expensive too and at the same time, they are more easily breakable. They don’t make for an ideal coffee mug during travels.

Therefore stainless steel suits those on a budget which is a great benefit.

But the question of taste, aroma, and flavour is a different story. Coffee lovers predominantly think that coffee in stainless steel pots tastes unfamiliar, cheap, and different while the flavours and fine notes are all but missing.

These complaints from coffee lovers have not gone unheeded by the stainless steel industry, which has produced many different kinds of cups that combine the benefits of stainless steel with ceramic, which seems to be a clear favourite of coffee lovers.

Types of Stainless Steel Coffee Mugs

  • Stainless Steel Cups
  • Stainless Steel Travel Mugs
  • Copper Plated Coffee Mugs
  • Leak-Proof Stainless Steel Cups
  • Ceramic Lined Stainless Steel Mugs

When you look at the range of coffee cups and mugs in stainless steel, you will likely buy a few of them even if you are more inclined to drink your coffee in a ceramic cup. 

This is because these stainless steel cups are generally cheaper and are great for drinking your coffee while on the move.

They make a perfect travel companion and some of them come with both leakage-free lids as well as double lids which allow you to drink the coffee while it is tightly shut.

stainless steel coffee thermos, coffee, coffee flavour

A look at the Amazon website for the type of stainless steel coffee mugs available at this premier online store throws up a huge list of impressive coffee mugs. 

They are available in different designs, shapes, sizes, and features. You are simply spoilt for choice. They come in stackable and standalone formats.

Stainless Steel Cups

The most basic variety of stainless steel cups are in a pack of 5 and each can load 300 ml of your favourite beverage.

Naturally, they are sturdy, reusable, safe, and help to reduce waste and chemicals produced by plastic and glass cups.

Stainless Steel Travel Mugs

Then, you have to travel mugs. These are also vacuum-insulated and can be slightly bigger, ready to load up to 340 ml to 500 ml depending on which model you go for.

These are eco-friendly and reusable thermal cups. You can use these cups for drinking coffee as well as other beverages such as water, tea, and juices.

In many cases, the manufacturers make it a point to mention that the products are completely lead-free. 

Copper Plated Coffee Mugs

Then, you have copper plated coffee mugs. Many of these varieties are double-walled and vacuum insulated.

Leak-Proof Stainless Steel Mugs

You also have stainless steel coffee mugs that come with a leak-proof lid. Just imagine carrying your coffee in a mug whose lids are so tight that there is no leakage at all. 

You can carry your coffee in these coffee mugs to your work without any spills or drips.

You also have coffee mugs with double lids that allow you to carry your coffee as well as drink it without an accidental leakage.

Ceramic Lined Stainless Steel Mugs

Lastly, we have a stainless steel coffee mug that is lined with ceramic while the exterior is still only steel. 

In this mug, the coffee is never in touch with steel but only with the ceramic surface.

The opinion of coffee lovers about this kind of coffee mug is positive and they claim their coffee tastes as fabulous in these steel cups lined with ceramic as in the ceramic cups themselves.

Stainless Steel Vs Ceramic 

Coffee lovers seem to prefer ceramic over stainless steel as far as coffee mugs are concerned, so what is the difference between the two materials? 

Stainless Steel

The main gripe with stainless steel is that it affects the flavour of the coffee. Many theories are doing the rounds about how this alleged distortion of flavour happens. 

The most powerful argument against stainless steel coffee mugs is that they do react with hot coffee, especially with the acids found in medium roasted coffees.

Despite the well-ingrained belief that stainless steel surfaces are non-porous and impermeable, they are not. 

They have rough surfaces and they do react with some of the 1000-plus compounds found in coffee. This reaction removes some of the fine notes and flavours found in the coffee.

Stainless steel travel mugs

The chemical reaction that takes place between stainless steel and hot coffee does not melt the steel or do any harm to the mug, but it does harm the coffee, giving it some kind of metallic flavour, smell, and taste.

Also, when you fill the travel coffee mug with hot coffee and put the lids tightly on, you shut off the aroma of the coffee.

If you drink coffee from such a mug whose lid is tightly shut, you don’t get the smell, flavour, and aroma.

This means you are drinking coffee without any of those smells and aromas. Can coffee be imagined without its smell and aroma? 

All these factors make a damning statement against cups made of stainless steel.


At the other end of the spectrum, you have ceramic cups. They are truly non-porous as much as they can get. 

Ceramic is a neutral material that neither absorbs nor gives any flavour.

You can use your ceramic cups as many times as you like.

They will never retain the coffee flavour after a simple wash.

But the same is not true about most of the materials and even stainless steel, which seems to retain some of the residues and flavours in its uneven surfaces.

How much substance is there in the case against steel is anybody’s take. But ceramic cups seem to be sitting above all criticism as far as the flavour of the coffee is concerned.

Where To Buy Stainless Steel Cups?

Despite all the arguments against stainless steel cups, they are still very popular as any other stainless steel product and still have their place for people who drink coffee on the go. 

The best place to search for these cups and buy them in a wide variety of options is Amazon. 

Amazon lists a huge number of stainless steel cups and mugs in eye-catching and functional designs. You can find single-walled as well as double-walled coffee mugs. You can also find cups with and without lids. 

Even among the cups with a lid, you can find single-lid and double-lid models.

stainless steel travel mug, coffee on the go

The double-lid coffee mugs allow you to drink your coffee on the go.

Without any inconvenience, spills, or drips. 

You can also find vacuum insulated coffee mugs that can keep your coffee hot for a longer duration. All of these and more can be found on the Amazon website.

However, you can also find many of these cups and mugs at your local supermarket.

But like everything else, online stores offer you deals and discounts.

You also have the opportunity to scan through a vast repertoire of the products discreetly without even committing to buy any of them.

Stainless Steel Affecting Flavour of Coffee F.A.Q’s

frequently asked questions
Q: How do you clean stainless steel?

A: Many people swear by the simple combination of vinegar and olive oil for keeping their stainless-steel appliances clean.

Add white vinegar to a clean spray bottle. Spray down your stainless-steel appliance. Wipe clean with a micro-fibre cloth. Once clean, dip your cloth into a small amount of olive oil.

Q: Does milk react with stainless steel?

A: Milk is not normally corrosive, but milk deposits can react with cleaning or sterilising agents and create aggressive liquids that eat away at the surface of ordinary grades of stainless steel.

Q: Can you put hot coffee in stainless steel?

A: If your stainless steel water bottle is single-walled, that is made of only one layer of stainless steel, then it’s not a good idea to put piping hot drink into it.

It isn’t because the hot liquid will melt your bottle, but due to safety reasons.

Q: How do you get the smell out of a stainless steel thermos?

A: The smell from stainless steel thermos that you can come across is best removed with just baking soda and water. A single teaspoon of baking soda is enough.

Put the soda in, fill the thermos with water, and let it sit for a while before rinsing.

Conclusion: Does Stainless Steel Affect Coffee Flavour?

The debate about how stainless steel cups and mugs affect the flavour of the coffee does not seem to yield any clear cut answer. 

However, because stainless steel has rough surfaces and reacts with some of the 1000-plus compounds found in coffee, this reaction removes some of the fine notes in coffee and therefore, can affect coffee flavour.

coffee in stainless steel cup, specialty coffee

This is also why the majority of people would indeed like to have their coffee in ceramic cups when they are at home. 

But stainless steel cups, mugs and thermos flasks still have their benefits.

These same people might want to use a stainless steel cup to drink their coffee when they are outside, during their travel, or at nature camps.

If you enjoyed this article, read more like this by checking out our Specialty Coffee Beginners Guides.

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