No Drain, No Pain

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15th of March 2017

My world became a better place the day that I abandoned instant granules and started drinking real coffee made from grinds. But as my life became happier, my sink became dirtier. Day after day, I tried to rinse away the old grinds from my cafetiere or my moka-pot or my espresso machine, and day after day, a distinct trace of coffee remained and I was left with black speckles on the white ceramic.

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Pic by Irene Coco

My only consolation was the fact that the coffee grinds I washed down the drain were helping to keep my drainage system clean and odour-free. Right? That’s up for debate. In fact, this issue never fails to cause an argument when I discuss it with my coffee-loving friends. A few retain the belief that coffee grinds are a drain’s best friend. But most realise that this is one of many crazy coffee myths.

I’m now a firm believer that coffee grinds are bad for drains. Very, very bad.

So where did I get my evidence? I asked an expert.

Atomic Plumbing is a drains specialist based in Virginia, United States. The company completely rejects claims that coffee grinds are good for pipes. “Despite the old wives’ tale that coffee grounds down the sink each day is good for the plumbing, we at Atomic Plumbing are here to tell you the truth. Nothing causes more blockages and clogged pipes than coffee grounds and grease.”

They claim coffee grinds will eventually form “a sludgy, impenetrable nightmare” in drains.

So why are coffee grinds so difficult to shift? Simple. They don’t dissolve in water. Yes, they smell much better than old hair and grease and oil, but they have the same potential for clogging up your pipes. Unless you rinse them away with gallons of water, chances are a few grinds will stick around and could eventually build up into a blockage. The more you wash down, the more they build up.

At least, that’s my view – and like coffee grinds in a kitchen sink, I’m sticking to it.