The Obnoxious Coffee Breath


Ah, just the mention of it brings on a warm fuzzy feeling. The whiff of the aroma in the morning, and the comforting warmth of a cup on a cold day says it all.

Beneath the potent benefits also lies one interesting dilemma of a love hate relationship.

Most people feel that they cannot live without coffee and hence have to live with one of its foul after effects – the coffee breath!

So what causes coffee breath?


Causes of Coffee Breath

Coffee breath is a result of mainly 2 actions.

1. Drying

Coffee can limit saliva production and cause the mouth to be dry. And we know that a dry mouth provides great opportunities for bacteria to flourish. When that happens, the bacteria will create toxins and acids that gives off bad breath.


2. Foul In Small Dosage

A molecule found in roasted coffee beans:3-mercapto-3-methylbutylformate, is responsible for the fruity aroma we smell in coffee. However, this is a compound that produces intense flavor and causes off flavor even in low concentrations. The molecule can come off smelling like a mixture of old fish, cat urine or rotten eggs. Makes us think twice about downing that other cup of coffee eh?


What Can Be Done?

1. Limit Coffee Drinking

Well, duh..

The obvious would be to eliminate coffee drinking, but we know that is akin to career suicide (ok, maybe we overexaggerate). Less coffee is definitely up in the books, or perhaps even experimenting with green coffee (the debate is still there whether the roasting actually increases 3-mercapto-3-methylbutylformate concentration).


2. Switching Coffee with Alternatives

Other alternatives could include green tea, hot chocolate, herbal teas like dandelion root tea or the increasingly popular rooibos that boasts immunity boosting properties.


3. Dental Hygiene

The other thing we can do to help ourselves is to diligently clean our mouth (brush teeth, tongue, inner cheeks and gums) after the coffee. A nifty gadget to own is this small electric toothbrush, which we can bring on the go without hassle.

For the DIYers, we can also prepare a simple alkaline mouthwash solution by mixing 1 teaspoonful of baking soda to half a cup of water. This can be made in advance in equivalent proportions and should be stored in glass bottles if possible.


Try and finish it within 3 days. No need to refrigerate, but for health purposes, use a separate cup instead of taking a swig right off the glass bottle.

We know of people who carry little spray bottle (which can be easily bought in those $1 shops) of this concoction to substitute commercial mouth sprays. The only downside perhaps is the mildly salty aftertaste.

This mouthwash can help to neutralize the acidity and maintain good dental hygiene. In fact, for normal purposes, this mouthwash, IMHO, is infinitely better than those store bought alcohol based mouthwash, which only serves to dry out our mouth further. Not to mention the fact that these concoctions were first made to clean floors rather than mouths.


4. Drink more water

Sipping water regularly also helps with the moisturization of our oral cavity, thus preventing growth of bad breath causing bacteria. It also helps to reduce the acidity in your mouth and of course it is good for your body.

So there you go, four simple steps we can take to eliminate the dreaded coffee breath. Looks like we can still have our coffee and drink it after all.