Why Does My Coffee Look Oily?

crazy by Editorial Staff | Posted on March 31st, 2023

Do you love your morning cup of coffee, but find the liquid looks a bit different than usual? If your coffee appears to have an oily sheen on top of it, don’t worry – this isn’t something that’s gone wrong.

In fact, there are a few reasons why this could be happening and we’re here to explain them in this blog post. So grab your favorite mug and let’s dive into why your coffee might look oily!


Is oily coffee a bad thing?

It’s important to remember that more oil in coffee beans doesn’t necessarily mean a bad cup of coffee. In fact, the oils found in coffee beans contain essential nutrients and caffeine that contribute to the flavor and aroma of your brew. So, if you’re looking for a richer and fuller-bodied cup of coffee, then more oils present can actually be beneficial.

While too much oil can make your coffee taste bitter, the right amount can bring out the sweet and smooth flavors of your favorite brew. Additionally, when oils are heated up during the brewing process, they create a thicker texture that adds to the body of your coffee. So if you’re looking for a more robust cup of joe, make sure you look for those oily beans!

What causes oily coffee?

Oily coffee can be caused by several factors, including the grind size, brewing method, water quality, misuse of creamer, and over-extraction. 

Grind size

If you want to avoid making coffee that looks oily, grind size is an important factor to consider. A finer grind will extract more oil from the coffee beans, while a coarser grind will produce a less oily cup of coffee.

The best grind size for your coffee will depend on the brewing method you use. For espresso machines, a very fine grind is recommended in order to achieve maximum extraction and avoid any oily residue.

On the other hand, for French press or pour-over methods, a coarser grind may be more suitable in order to prevent the over-extraction of oils from the beans.

By adjusting your grind size accordingly, you can reduce the amount of oil in your cup of coffee and enjoy a tasty and smooth beverage.

Brewing method

The brewing method plays a key role in the production of oily coffee. Different brewing methods, such as drip and espresso, can produce different levels of oil. Brewing too long or using too fine a grind can cause too much oil to be extracted from the beans, resulting in an oily cup of coffee. 

Paper filter use

Some brewers use paper filters that are not fine enough. This allows more oils to pass through than if you were using a finer filter. Additionally, French press coffee makers are known for producing especially oily coffee because they do not use filters.

Bad water quality

Bad water quality can also be a cause of an oily cup of coffee. Hard water contains an increased level of calcium which can easily bond with the fatty acids in ground coffee, making it more visible. This results in a noticeable oily layer on the surface of the coffee when it is put to your lips.

If a coffee machine is not maintained well, the minerals and other compounds in hard water can accumulate and affect the flavor of the coffee, making it taste bitter and look oily. To avoid this problem, one should use filtered water or use a water softening system to reduce any mineral buildup in their coffee machine.

Misuse of creamer

When too much creamer is added to the coffee, it can cause the oil from the creamer to separate from the rest of the ingredients, leaving an oily residue on top. Additionally, if the creamer isn’t mixed thoroughly enough, it can also lead to oily coffee. To ensure that your coffee isn’t overly oily, it’s important to measure out your creamer and mix it thoroughly before adding it to your cup.

If you’re looking for an alternative, there are other ingredients you can use to make your coffee creamy. Cocoa powder is one option that can add a rich, chocolatey flavor and creamy texture.

Alternatively, grass-fed heavy cream is a keto-friendly option that will add a rich, creamy flavor without the addition of sugars or other artificial ingredients. White coffee beans can also create a distinctively smooth, creamy cup of coffee with no oily buildup of caffeol. 


Over-extraction is the result of extracting too much from the grounds. This can happen if you use a finer grind, use more coffee, or brew for too long. When this happens, the coffee will have an oily texture and taste overly bitter.

It’s important to get the timing just right when it comes to brewing so you don’t end up with an over-extracted cup of coffee. To avoid over-extraction, try using a coarser grind and reduce your brewing time. Additionally, make sure you use fresh beans that have been roasted correctly and check your water quality.

Coffee scum

Coffee scum is the oily film that is seen in coffee or that coats the inside of the cup after the coffee has been drunk. This film is caused by oils found in coffee beans and can be exacerbated by different methods of brewing, such as over-extraction, misuse of creamer, or bad water quality.

Additionally, grind size and type of coffee bean can also contribute to the formation of coffee scum. Darker roast beans tend to have more oil, which can cause thicker scum and give the coffee a richer body. In some cases, an oily film on top of your coffee is a sign of a great roast on your beans. While it might not look appealing, it can add to the flavor profile of your cup.

Type of coffee bean

The type of coffee bean used can also affect the amount of oil present in the coffee. Light or medium roast coffee beans tend to have less oil present than darker roast beans. This is because the lighter roasts are generally roasted for a shorter period of time, which does not draw out as much oil from the beans.

Darker roasts, on the other hand, are roasted for longer periods of time, which draws out more oil from the beans and results in a stronger flavor. Additionally, some coffee beans appear dry while other coffee beans appear oily/shiny on the surface. This may be an indication of how much oil is present in the bean, as well as an indication of how long it was roasted.


It’s important to understand the factors that can cause your coffee to look oily. This includes the grind size, brewing method, bad water quality, misuse of creamer, over-extraction, and more oily beans. While dark roast beans are the most likely to produce oily coffee, light roast beans can also become oily if they are not roasted correctly. Ultimately, it’s up to you to determine which method works best for you and produces the best-tasting cup of coffee.

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Disclosure: No compensation or free products were received in exchange for writing this review.


Editorial Staff

The editorial staff at Crazy Coffee Crave is a team of coffee enthusiasts & Baristas who enjoy the one thing we all think about as soon as we get up in the morning. Trusted by thousands of readers worldwide.