Bad coffee in stock photos

Stock photography is full of bad coffee. I’ve recently noticed that even in good quality stock photos, the coffee might look nice to the untrained eye, but almost every cup has something glaringly wrong to anyone that knows anything about coffee.

I’m a big fan of Product Hunt and use it every day at SeedInvest to help spot interesting new startups. Recently they featured a new stock photography company called Swauck. Some of their stock coffee photos got me so riled up that I’ve put together a compilation of my top 5 coffee sins in stock photography.

1. Stale coffee

You can tell from the popped bubbles around the edges of the cup that this coffee has sat for far too long. From a distance this coffee looks ok, but it probably tastes terrible.

Coffee photography
A stale latte that has sat too long.

2. Mottled crema

The weird froth like texture to this crema suggests a poorly made macchiato or an espresso that was drawn for too long.

Coffee photo

3. Burnt coffee beans

These beans aren’t too bad, but if you look carefully several of them are so dark that any coffee you made with them would taste acidic and horrible.

Burned coffee beans

4. Over steeped coffee

Coffee is only ever this dark if it has sat in a coffee maker for hours before being served. All the coffee taste is overpowered by the insipid tang of coffee grounds that have steeped too long.

Stale coffee


Life is too short to drink bad coffee and bad coffee photography is helping to perpetuate a lack of taste. Demand more from your stock photos of coffee.

9 thoughts on “Bad coffee in stock photos”

  1. I got totally surprise after watching this image because all the picture of coffee cup shown here are looking fresh but in actual they are terrible in taste. Thanks for awaking me..

  2. This article is complete fodder.

    [pic 1] “Popped bubbles” are from the fresh roast of an espresso bean. These bubbles are caused by the gasses leaving the beans and can occur within the first 45 seconds of sitting on the counter. Fresh not stale.

    [pic 2] “Molted crema” Please see the effect of fresh beans above.

    [pic 3] “Burnt coffee beans” Those beans are not burnt, yes some of them are darker and more oily than others. That looks to be a blend of a medium/city roast with some heavy dark beans perhaps a Sumantra in it, not burnt. This roast is no darker than Starbuck’s revered “Pikes Place”.

    [pic 4] How can you tell this coffee is over steeped? Coffee only steeps in a French press or a cold brew method when beans, and water sit together, not when coffee sits in its urn for too long. This drip is dark and could possibly from that blend posted in picture 3.

    Again this article is not saying much but that you had too much time on your hands and have a thirst for coffee. I hope this helps next time you order your tall skinny vanilla flat white.

  3. We should demand more from stock photos of coffee!

    To be honest, I never really thought about this point of view with coffee photos until I read your post. It got me thinking of all the stock photos that I’ve used in the past. How many of those were bad… 🙁 Now when ever I use a stock photo, I’ll think about this post. lol

    On number 3 and 4, do you think any chance post photoshop enhancement had any influence on the darkness of the beans and coffee?

  4. I’m a hardcore coffee lover, and I know that some coffee tastes horrible but I could only make it when I have it. After reading this post, it is much more easier for me to reject a bad coffee even before tasting it.

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