You already know that your coffee brewer can get covered in coffee residue, but you probably didn’t realize that your grinder can, too. Oily residue can build up the grinder, and bean debris can get lodged in hard to reach places. This doesn’t just make the coffee your grinding taste gross, but it’s also very unsanitary.
If you aren’t already properly maintaining your coffee grinder, now is the time to do so. These useful devices can become crusty, and filled with bean crumbs. This, in turn, causes your delicious morning roast not to be so delicious.. in fact, dirty grinders can make that freshly ground coffee taste old and stale instead. Once you realize how important this is, you’ve already taken the first steps to fixing the problem.
For today’s purposes, we’re going to assume that you have a burr grinder. This is a type of grinder that grounds the beans into same sized particles. The other type of grinder is called a whirlybird-blade grinder. We highly suggest against this second category, as it doesn’t give you the same high-quality results. If you do own this type of grinder, however, all you have to do is carefully wipe out the insides with a damp towel or napkin, and then allow to dry.
We are also going to assume you’re using regular coffee brews, and not the kind which is flavored. Flavored coffee beans tend to leave a longer lasting smell, and a residue that can strongly affect the taste of future ground coffees. Okay, ready to get started?
#1. Get Rid of the Grit
When the coffee beans are ground down into minuscule particles, it can leave a fine dusting on your hopper’s insides (which is where beans are kept before grinding) and at the edges of the burrs. The best way to begin getting rid of these excess particles is by vacuuming them up. If you don’t have a real wand attachment, you can alternatively use a can of compressed air instead. Remember to check inside the chute to see if it’s clogged. If anything is stuck, use your finger or toothbrush to dislodge it.
#2. Remove the Grease
Remove the hopper and wipe down the inside thoroughly, as plastic surfaces tend to retain oils. If your burr grinder has a removable chamber, remember to rinse it out and wipe it down as well. Michael Elvin of Espresso Parts recommends wiping the inside out with a dry, clean cloth, to remove oils which build up, and, over time, become sticky and rank.
#3. Think Long Term
Even for the average coffee drinker who uses their grinder for simple, regular home usage, the burrs will eventually need changing. There is no exact amount of time before this needs to happen, but a good estimate for grinders with replaceable burrs is between three and five years. During this time, if your burrs become worn down, broken, or too dirty to clean properly, it’s probably a good opportunity to change them. Plus, it’s a lot easier (and smarter) to replace the $20 burrs versus spending $100 to $300 on a brand new grinder, right?
Regular weekly cleaning of your grinder should be relatively easy once you’ve tackled the first big clean. You can remove the chamber and hopper once a week to wash with warm water and soap. Allow them to air dry before replacing them on the grinder entirely. NEVER put your burr grinder back together wet!
Presto! Just like that, your burr grinder is cleaner, healthier, and functioning better. Your coffee tastes fresher, better already!