Does Coffee Give You Bad Breath? (Broadly Explained)

A cup of coffee

Coffee is undoubtedly one of the most loved caffeinated drinks all over the world. More than 80% of the global population tends to drink at least a single cup of coffee every day.

The enhanced productivity and health benefits attached with the coffee have brought itself a distinct social aspect. People gather together to reminisce memories over a cup of coffee.

Although the aroma and taste of the drink make you pleased, the smell of the bad breath is a downer.

Short answer: Coffee itself doesn’t give your breath a bad smell. However, the caffeine and other components present in the drink can cut down saliva production and produce a bad odor inside the mouth.

In this article, I’ll be providing you with some wonderful tips to avoid the coffee breathe and enjoy the drink.

Continue your reading!

What Causes Coffee Breath?

A close up of person's mouth

Coffee Breath is generally caused by bacteria as the caffeine dries inside your mouth. This slows down the production of saliva resulting in a bad odor inside the mouth.

When the caffeine declines the saliva production in your mouth, there is an increase in odor-causing bacteria. The sulfurous content in the coffee aids the factor as the bacteria can break content and promote bad breath.

This is why many people tend to avoid coffee while meeting peers and friends. While coffee is undoubtedly one of the best drinks to ensure your productivity, it can also be a cause of embarrassment unknowingly.

Does Coffee Cause You Bad Breath?

Yes, coffee may aid in creating a strong-smelling breath inside your mouth, and caffeine is the main contributor here.

Bad breathing is caused generally due to the presence of caffeine. The underlying reasons are :

  1. The decrease of saliva inside your mouth. You may know that saliva helps in killing bacteria in your mouth and digesting food particles caught in teeth. When the caffeine reduces the saliva content, the bacteria for bad odor starts to grow faster resulting in a bad-smelling breath.
  2. The intense and rich flavor of coffee makes it easier to cause a bad smell by affecting saliva production.
  3. The bacteria can break down the sulfurous content present in the coffee. This can cause the bad breath-causing bacteria to produce odor.
  4. The strong odor of coffee can produce bad breath by combining with other bad-smelling odors. Additives like milk, creamers, syrup , etc can add to the problem.
  5. The presence of tannins in the coffee beans helps in releasing volatile sulfuric compounds that may produce a bad odor.

So, there are different causes behind the pungent smell obtained from coffee. The quality of beans and how often you’re taking the drink will also contribute to the lasting smell inside your mouth.

Can Coffee Make Your Breath Stink?

Coffee containing caffeine can make your breath stink.

Coffee beans go through a prolonged roasting and preparation method. Throughout the roasting method, sulfur-containing aroma compounds are formed.

You may already know that the beans contain acid. The addition of sulfur compounds along with acidic content produces bad breath.

Coffee can also cause dry mouth and contribute to bad breath.

There’s a term called ‘Astringency‘ widely used by the baristas. This happens when your tongue gets a taste slightly acidic or bitter while tasting or smelling. A part of this astringency sensation in coffee is due to the presence of tannins.

Tannins being an astringent component binds themselves to the protein in your saliva. Thus its inhibits the production of saliva and the bacteria gets way to proliferate, releasing volatile sulfur compounds.

These volatile sulfur compounds or sulfur gas are the root causes of the abrupt pungent breath in your mouth.

Coffee can aid in promoting a foul smell in your mouth.

Do Tannins in Coffee Cause Dry Mouth?

Tannins in coffee can cause dry mouth. They are natural astringent content present in the coffee that binds with protein and minerals.

Your saliva contains protein and that’s why tannins get combined with the salivary glands. This causes the saliva glands to produce little to no saliva and causes dryness inside your mouth.

The exact amount of tannin in coffee is unclear and till today different techniques are used to analyze the role of the component in coffee.

These tiny molecules, called tannin give the mouth-drying effect. This is why you often feel the dryness in your mouth after sipping on a cup of joe.

This sensation of dryness is however short-lived and you can get away with it easily by drinking a glass of water.

You can read more about the tannins in coffee in this other article I wrote if you’re interested.

Why Does Coffee Make Your Breath Smell Like Poop?

Lights in the shape of  a poop emoji

The reason behind the extremely harsh and strong breath is an issue of the digestive tract created due to coffee consumption. The gut microbiota breaks down the sulfuric compound of the coffee and releases the smelling gas.

Well, it’ll be a bit of an exaggeration if I say that the coffee can make your breath smell like poop. But the underlying truth is that coffee can cause a very bad odor in your mouth that can make you feel puke it out.

This isn’t something coffee does directly, however.

Coffee is a natural laxative. The laxative effect of caffeine can make your stomach upset easily and can cause intestinal issues. During such intestinal or digestive problems, coffee can trigger gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD which causes acid reflux and heartburn.

GERD is a very common condition prevalent in people. It causes the stomach acid to reach the esophagus. As the stomach acids reach the esophagus, an uneasy lump of sensation is created at the back of the throat. This leads to the release of feces-like smells that might be too awkward and displeasing for you.

This acidic wash is what irritates your esophagus and causes extreme discomfort and foul breath.

Does Decaf Coffee Produce Bad Breath?

Since caffeine inhibits the saliva production in your mouth, the lesser the content, the better for your breath. Decaf coffee has about 3% of caffeine present in it, this reduces the chance of producing bad breath.

Decaf contains a significantly lower amount of caffeine that may range from 2-10 mg.

The presence of caffeine in coffee makes your digestive system irritated and leads to releasing stomach acids that come up to the esophagus. This is also an important reason why coffee with caffeine should be taken moderately.

Both the reduction in saliva production and initiation of digestive issues create bad odor inside the mouth directly and indirectly. So I feel decaf coffee can be a better choice to cope with this issue.

Try to take your coffee as simple as possible. Adding whipped cream or syrups in the decaf coffee, however, won’t help you.

Don’t forget that, even without caffeine, decaf coffee still contains similar acidic beans and sulfuric content that produces the volatile gases inside the stomach.

So no matter whether the drink is caffeinated or decaffeinated, your moderate consumption can help you in maintaining better oral hygiene.

Does Tea Produce Bad Breath?

Tea also causes bad breath in the mouth. The reasons are similar to coffee.

Both tea and coffee dries out the mouth and inhibit the production of saliva. the lack of saliva in the mouth causes a strong, lingering smell naturally. However, the effect of tea in producing a bad odor in the mouth isn’t as prominent as coffee.

Tea lacks acidity like coffee beans and also doesn’t have the same chemical components as coffee.

Black tea is considered to be a helpful tool to reduce bad breath. It’s rich in polyphenols and works better in keeping the mouth smell better. This study shows that a cup of tea helps in fighting bacterial growth better and prevents tooth decay as well.

Black tea indeed, can reduce the rate of bacterial growth and protect in maintaining saliva production. It can also prevent tooth decay, which contributes to a bad odor.

For the best result, you can choose decaffeinated black or green tea. Without the caffeine content, the drink just gets better for your health and breath.

Moreover, if caffeine affects saliva production, then there are types of coffee and tea that contain high or low caffeine content that can also affect the smell of a breath. And, if it depends on the caffeine level, then a table below is provided for you to see which type can highly cause bad breath.

TypeSizeCaffeine Content
Brewed8 oz96 mg
Brewed, decaf8 oz2 mg
Instant8 oz62 mg
Instant, decaf8 oz2 mg
Espresso1 shot64 mg
Espresso, decaf1 shot0 mg
Brewed black tea8 oz47 mg
Brewed black, decaf8 oz2 mg
Brewed green8 oz28 mg
Ready-to-drink, bottled8 oz19 mg

How To Get Rid of Bad Breath?

A glass of water.
A glass of plain water is the easiest way to get rid of the bad breath.

The sensation of smelling bad breath can be awkward for socializing. Well, don’t worry because you don’t need to give up your favorite drink just for a good breath.

The following suggestion might help you in eliminating coffee breath:

  • Drink a glass or two of water
  • Chew a gum
  • Brush your teeth
  • Gargle with mouthwash
  • Have a sugar-free mint
  • Use toothpaste containing antibacterial properties

This study on halitosis (bad breath) showed that using toothpaste containing zinc may be beneficial for the mouth odor. You can also chew on fresh and raw parsley for minimizing the effect.

How Do You Prevent Coffee Breath?

Technically, you can’t prevent the coffee breath completely but drinking the coffee black may help you a bit.

Remember that the addition of creamers, sugar, or syrups may add up to the odor-building process and increase the presence of smelling molecules inside your mouth.

Journal of Breath Research shows that only coffee can be beneficial for reducing the volatile sulfuric compounds and the smell they produce.

This concludes that the add-ons like milk or sugar might be the may culprit for coffee breath. It’s quite easy to detect that bacteria feed on sugar and creamy molecules. So the sweeteners or additives can worsen your breath more than coffee alone.

If you don’t like your brewed drink plain, try adding a cinnamon stick or vanilla bean. You can also use a sugar substitute in small doses.

Also, milk naturally contains sugar. Go for an option with less sugar or sweetening content and if you can skip the whole additives, it’s the best way to get away with the bad odor.

In Conclusion

Coffee itself doesn’t cause a lingering smell in your mouth. It’s the caffeine and multiple add-ons that create the bad smell.

Coffee has become a necessary part of our busy life. You are dependent on caffeine sources more or less. It isn’t fun to skip coffee or other caffeinated beverages just for smelling good.

It is indeed true that the sulfuric and acidic compounds in coffee cause bad breath. Without saliva being produced to wash the bacteria off, there might be a malodorous compound in your mouth exhibiting a bad odor.

Without completely avoiding coffee, try to limit your intake to a moderate quantity. If possible choose a decaf one without any additives.

Also, good oral hygiene is important so try to wash your mouth regularly with good toothpaste and mouthwash. Try to have simple beverages like black tea.

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Matt Marshall

As I learn more and more about coffee and coffee products I want to share all my learnings with you here on this website. I hope you find my articles useful and entertaining to read.

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