Coffee Grinder Cleaning 101: Short And Long-Term Care
Think about this: every time you grind coffee for a shot or a brew, small particles of beans and oils are being shot off into small nooks and crannies of your coffee grinder. Organic matter is building up—and it’s not going to keep to itself. It will impact your brew if left alone, so it’s up to you to embrace good coffee grinder cleaning practices to ensure your gear’s as healthy and your coffee’s as tasty as it ought to be.
Here’s the good news: cleaning you cafe’s coffee grinders isn’t difficult or time-consuming. Devoting 10-15 minutes every week will go a long way in maintaining your shop’s reputation for quality and cleanliness—and when there’s so much competition in the cafe market, you can’t afford to let something like grinder care fall by the wayside.
Let’s dive into the cleaning practices you want to follow to keep your grinder working good-as-new, both in the short and long term.
The Goal And Tools Of Grinder Cleaning
Those coffee particles and oils building up may seem harmless now, but they’ll soon start affecting your brew negatively. These things are subject to decay from heat and oxygen, just like everything else, which means some undesirable flavors are going to start forming. And these off flavours will be picked up by fresh, non-tainted grounds as they go by.
So, essentially, the goal of cleaning is to remove stuck grounds and oils in the burr area. This keeps your coffee untainted and prolongs the life of your burrs.
Here’s what you’ll need to accomplish this goal:
- ● A grinder brush
- ● A dedicated grinder cleaner
- ● A microfiber cloth
- ● A vacuum (optional)
- ● Pressurized air (optional)
You have a handful of options when it comes to grinder cleaners, but, for the most part, they all work the same way. We suggest the affordable and effective Caffeto’s Grinder Cleaner Tablets.
Is Rice Safe For Cleaning The Grinder?
Soon we’ll discuss the step where you grind dedicated grinding cleaning tabs to help soak up oils. Some companies swear by using uncooked rice rather than a dedicated cleaner, but others avoid it at all costs.
Yes, the rice trick does often work, but there’s some risk involved as well. Not all rice is the same hardness, and there are many instances of extra-hard rice grains damaging burrs or staining motors. In fact, it’s enough of a risk that some companies, like Baratza, won’t repair your grinder under warranty if you damage it using rice.
Our advice? Stick with a dedicated, carefully designed grinder cleaner.
The Daily Cleaning Routine
Effective grinder care starts at the end of every day. Have your closing baristas incorporate these steps into the regular routine to make sure the grinder’s relatively fresh for the next day.
- ● Seal off the hopper and grind any remaining coffee in the burr area
- ● Turn the grinder completely off
- ● Empty the hopper, remove it, and wipe it down
- ● Use a vacuum to remove any remaining grounds from the burr area or dosing chamber
These basic steps take just a couple minutes but give you a mostly clean grinder for the next day’s customers.
The Long-Term Cleaning Routine
The following steps are an important part of the deeper cleaning process that keeps your grinder functioning properly for years. We suggest implementing them into a regular weekly cleaning schedule.
Once again, this doesn’t take long—maybe ten to twelve minutes total—but it gets the more stubborn oils and grounds off your burrs and out of your gear, which cleans up the flavour a bit.
It’s Time To Use The Brush
Now, you do still have to address the buildup of superfine particles that the grinder cleaner doesn’t grab hold of, and there’s probably a lot of them (especially in your espresso grinder). For this step, grab your stiff-bristled grinder brush.
After you’ve turned the grinder completely off, carefully disassemble the burr construction. Lay out a white towel that you can set the screws and other pieces on so that you don’t lose them. Remove the burrs.
Now take your brush and scrub the burrs for a moment, getting all the crevices between blades and the outsides too. Now take your brush and scrub inside the grinder. As you’ll see, fines really build up in there too.
You can use a microfiber towel to wipe up these newly dislodged grounds, but some cafes opt to use pressurized air instead. This shoots the grounds down through the grinder and out the dosing chute.
Some cafes do this every week after using the grinder cleaning tablets, but we don’t think that every week is completely necessary for this step. As long as you incorporate it into some regular cleaning schedule (bi-monthly or monthly), you’ll be fine.
Burrs: They’ll Eventually Need Replacing
Even though you can prolong the life of your burrs with proper cleaning, you can’t keep them from becoming dull entirely. They’ll need to be replaced at some point, and it’s up to you to read the signs to ensure they don’t dull so much that they kill your coffee’s flavour quality.
While any one of these symptoms can be caused by a new coffee or water in the chute or even user error, if you start to notice two or more, you can confidently guess that the burrs are reaching the end of their lifespan.
Grinder manufacturers typically say to replace espresso burrs after 500-900 kilos, but retail grinders are often good for 6,000+ kilos since the grind isn’t so fine. Check your specific grinder models for lifespan estimates.
In the end, it’s not a boring routine that gets your grinders cleaned—it’s a mindset. Establish clean gear as a value and set the example by out-cleaning your employees. They’ll be energized by your discipline, which will help them stick to the routines to ensure your grinders are working good-as-new.