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I happen to see in more commercial coffee shops that stirring of coffee for Lattes etc. is done with a metal spoon, however when I order a plain coffee and go add milk/sugar there are plastic stirrers. Similarly when I go and have coffee at work the office has wooden sticks to stir the coffee.

Besides for sanitary reasons, does the type of stirrer used effect the quality of the coffee? Is there an "ideal" stirrer material when preparing coffee?

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I'm just reasoning...

Polished gold or porcelain must be the ideal stirrers as they won't chemically react. I opt for porcelain as it may also help keeping the coffee warm as its thermal conductivity is less than gold.

Comparing the three you mentioned:

  • Wooden: Sometimes I taste it. So, I don't prefer it that much.

  • Plastic: There are many polymers we call plastic in our daily life. Some of these things are really of bad quality and I am suspicious if their thermal resistance is adequate for coffee. I wouldn't prefer them, too.

  • Metal: Especially, if you mention polished 18/10 stainless steel cutlery, they probably resist the heat and won't react with anything. So, the only bad thing about them is, they may make your cup colder a bit quicker than usual. Just take the spoon off right after use. This would be my preference.

  • Would wood (excuse the pun) absorb some of the goodness/flavours, as well as imbue its own taste on the coffee? – marcellothearcane Jun 11 '17 at 20:53
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    @marcellothearcane Frankly, I don't know. However, I wouldn't trust wood as it's clear that it's organic and it chemically reacts. Think of whisky and oak. Their taste mix in years and we love it. Here, in two minutes, it's for sure the tastes of the coffee and wood will mix. But I'm not sure if it's for good. Keep in mind, that freshness is one of the main factors in coffee. – MT San Jun 11 '17 at 21:00
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This may not be helpful to some, but to those who fancy it, these make quite a case...

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  • I generally prefer wood, both as an environmentally-natural material, and psychologically, I would prefer not to have steel and/or plastic touch my coffee. Just a preference really. I personally don't think it would make a major taste difference. – farankoshan Jun 23 '17 at 7:44
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Besides for sanitary reasons, does the type of stirrer used effect the quality of the coffee? Is there an "ideal" stirrer material when preparing coffee?

Short answer yes.

A stirrer ought to not add any flavors to the coffee and, as a secondary concern to this question, be easy to clean.

Our choices are ceramic, porcelain, glass, wood / bamboo, metals (gold, silver ...) and stainless steel.

  • Ceramic is too porous and the glazes are suspect at best as regards health and taste.
  • Wood / bamboo will absorb coffee flavors. If the wood / bamboo stirrer is only used for coffee I don't think it will impart any noticeable flavor profiles. I have been using a chopstick for a long time and have never noticed an added flavor. As a side note on a camping trip I used a trimmed (but still fresh) spruce branch and that did impart a flavor. :)
  • Metals are suspect at best. There are numerous articles on the subject regarding aluminium, silver and other metals.
  • Stainless steel does not impart a taste and does not react with the coffee.
  • Porcelain does not impart a taste but, as with ceramics, there can be a concern about the glaze.

TL/DR

Food safe ceramic, porcelain and stainless steel will not impart flavor. Wood / bamboo to a very minor extent might.

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