Mugs and brewers are not the only things that get covered in coffee – if you’re dependent on your freshly ground beans to deliver the most subtle and exquisite morning punch to your palate, then you are probably well aware of the gunk that piles up inside your coffee grinder after each brew. To prevent those stale and rancid oils from bumping into your fresh beans, a regular scrub is indeed required.
But cleaning your coffee grinding doesn’t need to be an overwhelming and time-consuming chore. Spoiler alert: we know a shortcut!
Depending on the type of your grinder, the degree of cleanliness you wish to achieve, as well as the time you have on your hands, there are a few different ways to clean the gunky residue from your grinder – and we will cover all of them in a bit. But before we get there, here is what is required of you to have:
A Soft Brush or a Cloth – Whether it is a soft painting brush, a toothbrush, or a piece of cloth on a stick (extra points for creativity!), use whatever you have lying around your house for brushing off those stale particles.
One Damp Cloth and One Dry Cloth– For wiping the insides of the grinder.
Wooden Toothpicks and/or Cotton Swabs – If you haven’t cleaned your grinder in a while (or never – we don’t judge), you should probably equip yourself with some wooden toothpicks to get to those really hard-to-reach places. Cotton swabs can also help you get those oily residues from the chute almost effortlessly.
Grinder Cleaning Pellets – Although you will not need these with every cleaning, if doing a deep scrub, cleaning pellets are quite recommended.
Water and Soap
Uncooked Rice – No, you are not making risotto – the rice can sweep out the built-up oils and residue. More about this method in a minute.
There are two ways in which you can clean your coffee grinder the quickest way. The first method is more of a maintenance thing but it is a must. After grinding your beans, take the time to brush or wipe away any leftover particles with a soft brush or a cloth. Even this simple two-second habit can expand the longevity of your grinder and ensure that you enjoy a perfect brew after every grind.
The second way involves cleaning pellets. There are a couple of great products on the market, and they are all coffee-bean sized and completely food safe. And the process for a quick cleaning is as simple as 1,2,3:
And just like that, your grinder is back to granulating coffee at full steam.
When we say the traditional way, we are talking about the way your grandma used to clean things – with soap and a damp cloth. Whether you have a blade grinder or have moved to a more sophisticated burr machine, the traditional way of cleaning involves pretty much the same process:
Although the traditional cleaning method should get rid of most of the dust and coffee gunk, if you think that your grinder is a bit clogged, then doing a more in-depth sweep is probably the best choice. Depending on the type of coffee grinder you have, there are two best cleaning methods to choose from.
Blade grinders have a motor that rotates two or three blades in an enclosed space, granulating whatever you place inside. They might not be the perfect choice for coffee grinding, but because of their versatility, simplicity, and well, rather low price, they have earned a special spot in the kitchens of many coffee appreciators.
Grinders with blades are simpler machines, and so, their cleaning doesn’t really involve much complexity. In fact, for the shiniest cleanse, you need nothing more than a simple ingredient you already have in your pantry – rice.
Caution: Do not be tempted to use the rice flour. Keep in mind that the stale coffee residue has clung to the rice, so it is best to discard it.
Unlike with blades – which basically chop the beans – the burr grinders are a bit more complex machines. In fact, that is why they are preferred. These grinders have both an inner and outer burr that can easily be adjusted to control the grind size. Which, as you’ve probably guessed, results in a uniform grind and a deliciously consistent brew.
Although you cannot simply wipe a burr grinder clean, the process is not as complicated as you may think.
#1 – Vacuum
First things first, unplug your grinder. If you have a vacuum with a wand attachment, that will do the trick perfectly. Insert the vacuum wand inside the hopper and remove as much dust and debris as possible. It is best to use a narrow attachment for your wand if you have one.
If you do not have a vacuum or don’t feel like plugging it in, you can alternatively just blow into the hopper a few times, to force out built-up residue.
#2 – Wash the Hopper
If the hopper of your grinder is removable, take it out and give it a good wash with warm soapy water. Rinse it thoroughly and place it upside down to drain and let dry. If you are in a hurry, you can just take a few paper towel sheets and pat it dry instead.
#3 – Take One of the Burrs Out
On most grinders, you can either remove the outer or inner burr. Figure out which one can be taken out, then check your manual to see how it should be removed. You may need an additional tool for this step – such tools usually come with the appliance, but you can take a fitting screwdriver if you do not have any special equipment.
Tip: If you are struggling with the burrs and cannot remove one easily – just leave them attached. It is better to have some residue stuck at the bottom of the burr then to have no grinder at all. Skip this step and make sure to clean them as thoroughly as you can.
#4 – Scrub the Burrs
With a soft brush or a toothbrush, give the burr you’ve taken out a good scrub a dub dub. Don’t just brush – scrub. If there are some spots where the bristle cannot reach, take a toothpick and push the gunk out.
#5 – Tip It Over and Shake
Now that you have scrubbed the unremovable burr and have loose residue inside the frinder, just tip it over your trash can and shake the debris off. You can also use the vacuum for this step if you prefer.
#6 – Wipe
Take a dry cloth and gently wipe the insides of the grinder, making sure that all of the parts where the beans go are clean. It’s recommended that you use a dry rug for this – your grinder has metal parts that might start corroding if moisture gets trapped inside.
Do not forget the chute. If your dry cloth cannot get there, take a cotton swab and wipe the coffee-ground pathway thoroughly.
Now that you know how you can easily clean your blade or burr coffee grinder let’s enrich your knowledge by a couple of extra tips to further boost your grinding and brewing experience.
Just like with rice, you can also clean your grinder with a couple of bread slices as well. Once the bread starts crumbling, it will take on a slightly gummy texture that will draw the oily debris like a magnet. Beware not to overdo it though, as some fresh Java lovers report that the bread can become super-gummy and stick to the insides of the grinder, making the cleaning process even harder.
But if you take a couple of stale, and somewhat dry slices of bread and grind them for about 10-15 seconds, you should be able to rub off most of the gunky particles.
Occasionally Do a Full Deep Clean
Just like your house needs a deep spring cleaning every year, your grinder also needs to be thoroughly scrubbed from time to time. Even if you think that your pulverizing machine is working smoothly, set some time aside at least once a month for a proper, removable-parts-out cleanse.
How to Maintain Your Coffee Grinder
To ensure that your coffee grinder will stay your roast’s best friend for a long time, maintaining it properly is more than necessary. Luckily, this involves almost zero hassle. Besides the occasional deep sweep, make sure to always at least wipe your grinder clean after use. For more precise results, let the vacuum do the job for you.
Don’t let the rush to your perfect cup of coffee cause you any damage. Safety always comes first, so make sure to handle your grinder with care.
Before cleaning – no matter if it is a burr-out scrub or an after-round wipe – always unplug the appliance first.
When wiping, make sure to keep your hands away from the blades or any sharp parts.
If tempted to blow into the grinder to dislodge leftover residue, keep your eyes closed to prevent coffee grounds from getting into them.
When re-assembling, make sure that all of the parts are placed properly.
How Often Should You Clean the Coffee Grinder?
There is no rule here because it all depends on how often you use it. Make it a habit to always brush or wipe before using; otherwise, clean it more thoroughly in proportions to how much coffee your grind and how often you use it. For instance, if you use your grinder only once a week, then clean it thoroughly once a month. If you are dependent on your fresh grounds every day, then give it a deep clean once a week.
How to Know if the Grinder Needs Cleaning?
Besides following the general, previously mentioned rule, your grinder may be telling you it’s time to get your hands dirty if it is giving on an unpleasant smell that it is not usual. This happens when there is a built-up of pungent oils inside the hopper or onto the blades.
What to Do If Your Grinder Smells Really Bad?
Although not recommended, many people use their grinders for both, grinding coffee and spices. If you notice that your machine is starting to get particularly smelly, dip a paper towel sheet in white vinegar and wipe the insides of the grinder with it. Take the lid off and let it air dry before the next use.