What It Means When Your Pee Smells Like Coffee

You expect that bold, nutty, chocolatey aroma to waft up from your morning Starbucks, but you'd never expect your urine to give off that same smell. This scent might be welcome in your favorite coffee mug, but not so much in the toilet. If your pee has started taking on a coffee-like smell, is it a sign that something may be wrong?

Coffee-scented urine may sound bizarre, but it's not unheard of. "[Some people] may notice an interesting odor when they've consumed coffee," urologist Dr. Adam Ramin told Women's Health. Most likely, it just means that your body is processing that second, third, or fourth latte you drank today. When we overload on coffee, our body is getting a sizable dose of ​​polyphenols, the compound in coffee that gives it its signature scent (via Medical News Today). Polyphenols are processed by the body and ultimately work their way out of our system through our urine. If our urine contains higher levels of polyphenols due to excess coffee consumption, it can leave our pee smelling just like our beverage.

If your pee smells like coffee, it may mean that you're dehydrated

Adding to the strength of this scent may be dehydration, explains Medical News Today. Because coffee serves as both a stimulant and a diuretic, it causes us to pee more, which can lead to dehydration if we're not following up that double espresso with any water. The lack of water in our urine when we're dehydrated can subsequently leave our pee smelling extra coffee-like.

Urine that smells like your afternoon cold brew is not considered dangerous on its own, according to Men's Health. If, however, you're experiencing additional symptoms like anxiety, headaches, or nausea, you may want to consider reducing your coffee consumption. While exceedingly rare, there is such a thing as a caffeine overdose, which can include symptoms of vomiting, chest pain, convulsions, fast heartbeat, and hallucinations, which warrant immediate medical attention. Although caffeine overdoses can be life-threatening, researchers from a 2022 case report published in Cureus point out that this risk is more often associated with high levels of caffeine supplementation. For comparison, the researchers point out that approximately 100 cups of coffee would need to be consumed very quickly to be at risk for caffeine intoxication.

How to prevent coffee-scented urine

Because inadequate hydration can be partially responsible for pungent-smelling urine, making sure that you're drinking plenty of water on coffee-fueled days may help reduce the odor. Men are advised to drink about 15.5 cups of fluid each day, and women are recommended to get in 11.5 cups daily (via Harvard Health). While coffee can certainly count towards this amount, the majority of these cups you want to be from water.

Subbing in green tea or black tea in place of coffee may also help, as tea does not contain the same strong-smelling compounds that get filtered out through our pee as coffee does (via Men's Health). Of course, your best bet may be to limit how much coffee you're drinking to no more than 400 milligrams daily, as recommended by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). While reducing one's java intake isn't an easy ask for devoted coffee lovers, doing so may help get the smell of your pee back to normal.