Cockroaches in coffee machines - advice on dealing with pests in cafes

Almost everyone loves a cup of coffee, indeed many are unable to make it throughout the day without regular caffeine hits. However, it would appear humans aren’t the only species who will go to great lengths to get their fix of caffeine. A couple in Oxfordshire recently found an infestation of cockroaches inside their £1200 coffee machine!

It’s no surprise that cockroaches would find a coffee machine an appealing place to live. They are a great harbourage site for cockroaches, as they provide a source of warmth, moisture and food. These are ideal conditions for the pests (and other insects), especially German Cockroaches. Other creatures, like fruit flies and filter flies, are also attracted to the same conditions, so coffee machines have the potential to be a real hotbed of pest activity.

Cockroaches aren’t well known for their practice of good personal hygiene. While they may seem harmless, cockroaches are known carriers of diseases such as Salmonella, Dysentery and Gastroenteritis. Cockroach droppings have even been linked to increases in eczema and asthma.

A cockroach sighting or an illness linked to an infestation of insects is enough to damage the reputation of any business. In this piece I’ll discuss how to spot signs of an infestation, what to do if one is discovered, and the steps that can be taken to prevent an infestation forming in the first place.

How to spot the signs of a cockroach infestation

Cockroaches are nocturnal creatures and like to remain hidden in cracks and crevices during the day, coming out to feed mainly at night. Smaller cockroaches have no problem fitting into the small openings and crevices in coffee machines, meaning they can easily get inside and make themselves at home.

It is often easier to spot some of the signs of cockroach activity, rather than the creatures themselves. These include:

  • Droppings: If cockroaches have little access to water, they will produce brown/black cylindrical droppings, which are approximately 2mm in length
  • Smell:  An established cockroach infestation will produce an unpleasant lingering odour that passes to any surfaces that they contact
  • Smear marks: If lots of water is available, cockroaches produce brown, irregular shaped smear marks. These can be spotted at points where cockroaches scuttle along, such as horizontal surfaces and at wall/floor junctions
  • Shed skins: Cockroaches shed skins up to eight times as they mature to adults. These skins can normally be found close to where the cockroaches are sheltering, so keeping an eye out for them can be great way of finding nesting areas
  • Checking your coffee machine: To check if your coffee machine has been infested, remove any moving parts and take a look inside. Cockroaches are able to fit into the smallest of gaps, so make sure you shine a light to inspect any potential entry points, no matter how small they are. Cockroaches produce egg cases called oothecal which can contain from 8 to 40 eggs depending on the species, these may be hidden away in cracks and crevices or carried by the female until they are ready to hatch. Make sure you do a thorough check for concealed egg cases or empty shells.

What to do if you discover an infestation

If you identify a cockroach infestation in your coffee machine or elsewhere in your premises, it’s important to take immediate action. Unfortunately, cockroaches are notoriously hard to kill, and even harder to eradicate permanently.

You can take a DIY approach by purchasing insecticidal sprays, powders and traps. It is critically important you also remove any eggs that have been laid by the cockroaches, as they can survive and hatch after a month or two. This can be done by making sure you treat nesting and hiding areas. If the infestation returns, it’s time to call in a professional.

A professional will be able to identify the species of cockroach and seek out all potential hiding spots. Professional treatments such as sprays, gel baits and dusting powders are safe and targeted, limiting the risk to people inadvertently coming into contact with them. A professional will also ensure there is a long term strategy in place to prevent another infestation.

If you find an infestation in your coffee machine, it’s going to need a thorough clean. This involves removing any moving parts and cleaning them with hot, soapy water. After drying it off, open up your machine and allow it to air dry for a few hours. This will make the living conditions less desirable for the cockroaches, who may then move on in search of a better home. If possible, do this outside so they don’t just relocate to another area in the building.

While this is possible with smaller coffee machines, it becomes more of a challenge for large coffee machines with lots of immovable parts. In this scenario, you will need to contact a professional pest controller, and depending on the case, a specialist deep cleaning team may also be required.


As a cockroach infestation is so difficult to eradicate, prevention is always better than cure. Cafés offer up food, warmth, water and shelter for cockroaches all year round, so it’s important that owners and staff regularly take preventative measure to ensure cockroaches are not attracted to the premises.

Other areas in the café to look out for

Coffee machines are not the only place in cafés that provide ideal conditions for insects. It’s also worth checking the following areas:

  • Bathrooms: The abundance of water makes bathrooms a great place for cockroaches to hide, and they will happily eat soap residue and toilet paper. Check the plumbing behind sinks and toilets to see if there any signs of an infestation.
  • Drains: Drains can provide homes to species of cockroaches that can survive in cooler conditions. Check drains regularly, as well as pipes and damaged drain covers.
  • Other kitchen appliances: Cockroaches can hide in cupboards, and in the crevices at the backs of fridges, freezers and ovens. Other small kitchen appliances like toasters, microwaves and blenders can also be appealing places for cockroaches and other pests to make their homes.


When it comes to pest control, taking steps to prevent cockroach infestations will save businesses time and money, while also avoiding the associated risks of a pest problem. This is especially true for cockroaches, which are notoriously hard to remove. If you suspect your business may have a pest problem, it’s always best to contact a pest control professional, who will be able to give advice and provide long term solutions.

Some pest controllers like Rentokil offer low cost, pay as you go contracts (PAYG) which provides a quarterly inspection of premises for rodents and common, insect pest such as cockroaches as well as advice and recommendations for staying pest-free.   If a pest problem is detected, additional services can be added on to treat the issue, saving you the headache of dealing with it yourself.