coffee ground poop

What Causes Coffee Ground Poop? Is Condition Treatable and How Severe It Is?

When stool color deviates from brownish, it means there is something in the stomach. However, it doesn’t always mean there is a serious problem. Stool color change might temporarily depend on your diet. 

When you see coffee ground poop, it is time you should feel concerned. The condition can be due to blood in the stool or eating certain types of food with dark pigmentation. 

Knowing when coffee ground stool (also known as melena) is concerning is essential since sometimes it can be an emergency case. Also,  a picture of coffee ground poop can help you understand the condition better.

What is coffee ground poop? 

Poop is a combination of fiber, indigestible food material, gut microbial, and mucus. Also, stool contains bile pigments which give the brownish color. Sometimes, the poop looks like coffee grounds due to blood. However, sometimes food can cause this situation.

What Does Coffee Ground Stool Look Like?

If you have noticed that your stool looks like coffee grounds, it is essential to pay attention to other symptoms that may accompany it. Coffee ground stool is a type of stool that is dark and gritty in texture, resembling the grounds used to make coffee. It is an indication that there is bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract, usually from the stomach or upper intestine. The blood mixes with digestive fluids and food particles, turning the stool a dark color.

Coffee ground stool can be any type of Bristol stool scale provided that it is darker or blackish in color. It may refer to:

  • Black mussy stools or black liquid stools (type 6 and 7)
  • Black speckles (spots) in the stool
  • Very dark brown stool

If you notice any of these types of stools, it is essential to seek medical attention immediately.

Other symptoms that may accompany coffee ground stool include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Loss of appetite
coffee ground poop pictures chart

Comparison chart of 7 types coffee ground stools and their images

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is crucial to see a doctor as soon as possible.

Coffee ground stool can be a sign of a severe medical condition, such as an ulcer, gastritis, or cancer. It is essential to seek medical attention immediately to determine the underlying cause and receive proper treatment.

What is Poop Color and Texture? | Normal & Abnormal

Well, the standard stool has a light brown color. Any deviation might be due to a diet change or underlying health condition. Although the stool color might change due to food, it should not be uncomfortable.

These are the colors of stool that reveal your gut health. 

  • Green: Quick food movement in the large intestine. Presence of unbroken bile and consumption of vegetables, green food color, and iron supplement. 
  • Light: White poop or might indicate obstruction of the bile ducts. Thus, there is a lack of bile which needs medical intervention. 
  • Yellow and foul-smelling: Presence of fat in the stool due to conditions like celiac disease. Medical intervention is necessary. 
  • Black: The color indicates bleeding in the upper GI. Medication is necessary to treat the underlying problem. 
  • Bright red color: Unlike the dark stool, the bright red stool might indicate bleeding in the lower abdomen. 

Is Coffee Ground Stool an Emergency?

If you notice that your bowel movement has a coffee ground appearance, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. Coffee ground stool can be a sign of gastrointestinal bleeding, which can be life-threatening if left untreated.

Gastrointestinal bleeding can be caused by a variety of factors, including peptic ulcers, esophageal varices, inflammatory bowel disease, and cancer. If you have a history of any of these conditions, it is especially important to seek medical attention if you notice coffee ground stool.

Other symptoms that may accompany coffee ground stool include vomiting blood, black tarry stool, and abdominal pain. If you experience any of these symptoms, it is crucial to seek medical attention as soon as possible.

It is important to note that coffee ground vomitus is also considered a medical emergency. If you experience coffee ground vomitus, seek medical attention immediately.

Causes of Coffee Ground Poop | Medical Conditions

If you have noticed coffee ground poop, it could be a sign of an underlying medical condition. Here are some potential causes:

Bleeding Ulcers

Ulcers in the stomach or small intestine can cause coffee ground poop. The ulcers can bleed and mix with the stool, giving it a coffee ground appearance.

Bleeding in the Gut

Bleeding in the gut can also cause coffee ground poop. This can happen due to a tear or injury in the lining of the gut, or due to a condition like diverticulitis.

Gastrointestinal Cancer

In rare cases, coffee ground poop can be a sign of gastrointestinal cancer. This can include cancer of the stomach, small intestine, or colon.


Colitis is a condition that causes inflammation in the colon. This inflammation can cause bleeding and result in coffee ground poop.


Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the rectum or anus. They can cause bleeding and result in coffee ground poop.

Parasitic Infection

A parasitic infection, such as a hookworm infection, can also cause coffee ground poop. These infections can cause bleeding in the gut and result in dark, tarry stools.

If you are experiencing coffee ground poop or any other concerning symptoms, it is important to see a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Causes of Coffee Ground Poop | Dietary Factors

If you have been experiencing coffee ground poop, it could be due to a variety of dietary factors. Some foods and medications can cause changes in the color and texture of your stool. Understanding the potential causes can help you determine whether you need to make changes to your diet or seek medical attention.

Dark-colored Foods

Foods that are dark in color can cause your stool to appear darker as well. Some common culprits include:

  • Fruits, eg. Bananas, Blueberries, Raspberries 
  • Black food, eg. Black licorice, Black beans
  • Iron-rich foods, such as red meat and spinach
  • Leafy vegetables
  • Beets
  • Tomatoes 
  • Spices

If you have recently consumed any of these foods, it may be the cause of your coffee ground poop. However, if you are experiencing other symptoms or the problem persists, it is important to speak with your healthcare provider.

Dark-colored Medication

Some medications can also cause your stool to appear darker or have a coffee ground-like texture. These may include:

MedicationCommon Uses
AspirinPain relief, fever reduction, blood thinning
Iron supplementsTreatment for iron-deficiency anemia
Pepto-BismolTreatment for diarrhea, upset stomach, heartburn

If you are taking any of these medications and experiencing coffee ground poop, it may be a side effect. However, it is important to speak with your healthcare provider if you are experiencing any other symptoms or the problem persists.

How to know you have coffee ground stool? 

Since the condition can be due to food or medical conditions, it is sometimes hard to tell. However, there are times when you can experience an unusual feeling which indicates something might be wrong. 

Some of the things that can indicate you have serious problems include. 

Coffee grounds vomit

Coffee ground vomit is an indicator you have bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal. Commonly referred to as coffee ground vomitus. 

It is worth noting that the vomit has coagulated blood, which looks like coffee grounds. Also, the color differs depending on how long the blood has stayed in the gastrointestinal system. 

Coffee ground vomiting is a severe condition, and you should see a doctor immediately. 

coffee ground emesis pictures

different coffee ground vomit pictures

Poop looks like coffee grounds 

When the stool looks like coffee grounds, it should be the first red flag. You can see large black flakes or pea-sized black balls in the stool. 

The color of these flakes varies depending on blood stay duration in GI and reaction with acids.

Diarrhea that looks like coffee grounds

Sometimes, you can experience diarrhea with coffee-like flakes. This is also an indicator your GI is bleeding. However, if you had consumed leafy vegetables, a lot of red meat, and dark food, it might be the cause. 

If diarrhea is accompanied by severe abdominal pain, it is time to see a doctor. The presence of black flakes might be due to bleeding of the gastrointestinal system. 

gastrointestinal bleeding coffee ground stool pictures

pictures of diarrhea with coffee-like flakes

Black specks when wiping

When wiping your bowel, white toilet paper can easily show any abnormality in poop. If you have eaten food with high iron or dark composition, it might be the cause. 

On the other hand, you need to see a professional if you spot black specks when wiping and have not eaten suspected food. It might be a serious problem that requires medical attention. 

black specks in stool when wiping pictures

pictures of black specks in stool

Diagnosis and Treatment

If you notice that your bowel movement looks like coffee grounds, it is important to seek medical attention right away. This symptom could indicate internal bleeding in your upper gastrointestinal tract, which can be a serious medical emergency.

Medical Evaluation

When you visit your doctor, they will likely perform a physical examination and ask about your medical history and symptoms. They may also order tests such as blood work, stool samples, and imaging studies to help diagnose the cause of your coffee ground poop.

If your doctor suspects that you have internal bleeding, they may perform an endoscopy to look for the source of the bleeding. During an endoscopy, a thin tube with a camera is inserted through your mouth and down into your digestive tract.

Treatment Options

The treatment for coffee ground poop depends on the underlying cause. There is no general treatment meant for coffee grounds like poop. When you feel any abnormality in the body and see bloody or abnormal poop, it’s time to see a doctor.

If the cause is a peptic ulcer, your doctor may prescribe medications to reduce stomach acid and promote healing of the ulcer. If the bleeding is severe, you may need to be hospitalized for treatment. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to stop the bleeding.

It is important to follow your doctor’s treatment plan and attend all follow-up appointments to ensure that your condition is properly managed. In some cases, additional testing and treatment may be necessary to prevent further complications.


If you want to prevent coffee ground poop, there are a few things you can do. Here are some tips:

  • Limit your coffee intake. Drinking too much coffee can cause diarrhea and other digestive issues. Try to stick to one or two cups of coffee per day.
  • Switch to low-acid coffee. High-acid coffee can irritate your digestive system and cause diarrhea. Look for coffee labeled as “low-acid” or “stomach-friendly.”
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  • Drink coffee with food. Drinking coffee on an empty stomach can cause digestive upset. Try to drink coffee with a meal or snack.
  • Avoid artificial sweeteners. The sugar alcohols found in some artificial sweeteners can cause diarrhea. Instead, try using a natural sweetener like honey or maple syrup.
  • Stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water can help prevent constipation, which can lead to coffee ground poop.
  • Take a break from coffee. If you’re experiencing coffee ground poop or other digestive issues, consider taking a break from coffee for a few days to see if your symptoms improve.

By following these tips, you can help prevent coffee ground poop and other digestive issues. However, if you continue to experience symptoms, it’s important to talk to your doctor to rule out any underlying health conditions.


Why do I have sand like particles in stool? 

Usually, poop should be sausage-like with smooth or some cracks. Any deviation to either loose or dry should be treated as abnormal. 

Sand-like particles in poop might indicate a degree of constipation

Why do I have Sesame seeds like things in stool? 

Sometimes, food might be partially digested, which makes you experience sesame seeds like things in the stool. 

Besides, some seeds are hard to digest and can be seen in poop. 

In breastfeeding kids, fat from milk can cause poop to have a seed-like texture. 

Can coffee change the color of your stool?

Yes, coffee can change the color of your stool. The dark pigments in coffee may cause your stool to appear darker or even black. Moreover, coffee can stimulate bowel movements, and the increased speed of digestion may result in a change of color. However, if the color change persists or is accompanied by other symptoms, consult a medical professional.

How is coffee ground diarrhea in adults diagnosed?

Coffee ground diarrhea in adults is typically diagnosed through a combination of physical examinations, medical history, and laboratory tests. A doctor may perform a rectal exam to check for any signs of bleeding, as well as order blood tests to check for anemia and other signs of infection. Imaging tests such as CT scans or endoscopy may also be used to identify the source of bleeding.


Sometimes, coffee grounds bowel movement is present due to diet or medical condition. Detecting abnormality in the poop is one of the first ways to detect the underlying condition. 

Whether the coffee ground poop is due to food or condition, it’s vital to monitor closely. This will ensure you evade severe complications due to gastrointestinal bleeding.  

Also Read:

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All You Need Know About Low Acid Coffee

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