The methanol-to-hydrocarbons (MTH) reaction represents a versatile, industrially viable alternative to crude-oil based processes for the production of chemicals and fuels. In the MTH reaction, the shape selectivity of acidic zeolites is exploited to direct the synthesis towards the desired product. However, due to unavoidable side reactions occurring under processing conditions, all MTH catalysts suffer deactivation due to coke formation. Though it is likely that some common characteristics for carbon formation exist for all zeolite topologies, it has been proposed that the differences in shape selectivity among the different catalysts will also influence the individual deactivation mechanisms. As deactivating species are mostly aromatic compounds, highly methylated benzenes and/or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) have been discussed. In some cases, these can further grow to extended carbon structures. Here, we have investigated the hydrocarbon reactivities and carbon formation for five topologically different zeolite catalysts through an operando UV-Raman approach, taking advantage of the high sensitivity of this technique towards aromatic and other carbonaceous species. The combination of the spectroscopic tool with activity measurements allowed us to obtain valuable details and some general trends on the deactivation paths during MTH. This approach made accessible unique insight on the complex chemistry of MTH by allowing the real-time observation of hydrocarbon transformations typical for the peculiar topology of each catalyst, usually inaccessible by ex situ techniques.