Can an evil virus thrive in a coffeepot?

If a terrorist wanted to put an evil virus/poison/etc… into a large 2-5 gallon communal coffeepot, is there something that would live in that environment long term? We have a considerably diverse community at our plant, with some graffiti that is pro-Middle Eastern, and some people are curious.

I’d say poison:yes, bacteria:no, virus:no idea. I believe viruses are more hardy than bacteria, but I don’t know specifically of a virus that one would ingest to get sick. Coffee should be way too hot for bacteria to live in.

Anyway, getting a significant amount of a pathogen is really tough, while getting a significant amount of rat poison is a trip to Wal-Mart.

Wash/rinse out thoroughly after each use should do the trick.
If you are really paranoid about the problem put a lock on it and take daily turns of cleaning the pot and making coffee, with the exception of ‘problem’ people.

Without getting into GD territory, WTF has that to do with anything?

Just a little background to the question, my friend. No offense or genocide planned. I don’t want to invade or do anything to their nuclear reactors or Hamas or anything/anybody. I don’t care if we stay in Iraq or leave. I like foreign students in our nation, and I believe that a polyglot nation is as good as one that isn’t. Relax.:wink:

A virus requires a host cell to replicate, unless you coffeepot is made from or contains animal tissue no virus will thrive in there. I’m also sceptical as to whether a virus could even survive intact in coffee. I would imagine that coffee is a pretty harsh environment, lots of different organic compounds, low pH, and high temperature sounds like a recipe for denaturing the virion protein coat and the RNA/DNA contained inside.

Perfect. THank you all for your fine answers.

If you have middle-easterners working with you, then the only thing to worry about your coffee is the possible addition of cardamon.


I actually rather like that combination, myself . . .

Some bacteria are more resistant to high temperature than others.

The first one that comes to mind is Legionnaire’s Disease, which originally infected people through the water system in a hotel. It can survive for about 5 hours in 131 deg F water and 30 minutes in 140 degrees. That might be a little on the wussy side for coffee, but I’ve certainly had coffee at that temp before. I don’t know if the acidity would kill it much faster or not, but there might be some other bacterium that could servive.

I expect any number of organisms could survive in that environment. Significant human pathogens are another matter altogether. As long as there’s nothing they can metabolize like sugars or alcohols I wouldn’t worry about it.