Clean Your Coffee Grinder
Grinders are likely that it’s easiest to forget to clean. In burr-style grinders, the actual grinding action happens in a chamber that is not easily seen unless you take the grinder apart, and blade-style grinders commonly do not come apart easily to be washed. However, dirty grinders will introduce off-flavors into your coffee, so if you don’t remember the last time you cleaned your grinder, now’s a good time to learn how to clean your coffee gear.
The rule of thumb for coffee grinder cleaning is that if it’s made of plastic and is removable, it should be cleaned with soap and water and allowed to completely air dry before reassembling. If it’s made of metal, it should only be cleaned with dry materials.
The Baratza grinders that we sell have removable hoppers, hopper lids, and grinds drawers, as well as a gasket that feeds beans into the grinding chamber. Each of these would be considered “removable plastic”. Once these are removed, the upper burr carrier can easily be lifted out so that it can be cleaned, and the lower burr and grind chamber are exposed allowing them to be cleaned. Baratza includes a grinding brush that’s designed to clean these, but if that has been lost, a stiff nylon bristle brush, a wooden skewer, or even a toothbrush will work great. Just make sure to keep everything dry and wipe it out with a clean dry towel or rag once you’re done.
If you find that cleaning your burrs or blades with a nylon brush and a skewer is tedious, good news! Coffee professionals agree, and as a result, have developed a far easier way. You may have heard about the hack of grinding rice through your grinder to clean it. This is technically true–it totally works–but dry rice is also very hard and will dull the edges of your burrs or blades if done regularly. You can also use a breakfast cereal well known for how it snaps, crackles, and pops to clean it, but it can also leave behind a residue that will leave the flavor of that cereal in your coffee for the next few brews. The best option is grinder cleaner tablets. These are made specifically to clean grinders and do so easily with minimal effect on the burrs while leaving behind no residue.
If you haven’t cleaned your gear recently, it can be amazing how much better your coffee will taste the next time through. If this inspired you to learn how to clean your coffee gear, the next time you taste your morning coffee try and hold onto how nice it tastes. Let that exceptional brightness, sweetness, and complexity without any ashy or muddy flavors be your guiding light to remind you to keep cleaning regularly, and to let your coffee be all that it can be.