A great number of details can affect coffee quality, all of which can be mitigated with the right amount of care and quality equipment. Today we’re looking at the often neglected coffee grinder.
While not every person can have the top of the line gear there are always simple steps that can be taken to boost the overall quality of your coffee, one of which being cleaning practises.
Following on from my last list of cleaning tips, I thought I’d write an article based specifically on the more neglected coffee making tool – coffee grinders. In my early days as a barista I would often neglect cleaning the grinder, however after following the below tips I saw improvements in my overall coffee quality whether at home or working in a cafe.
Why Should You Clean
But before we discuss my cleaning methods, let’s quickly discuss why cleaning the grinder improves your coffee. It all comes down to the nature of coffee beans – it’s a perishable, oily product. Coffee degrades over time due to oxygen and heat, and the longer it stays in your grinder the worse your coffee is going to taste. This is because the majority of coffee grinders recirculate coffee within it, meaning you’ll never get a 100% fresh coffee grind with each dose without cleaning.
Super-fine coffee particles are the main reason to keep your grinder clean. These fine particles are more prone to rapid degradation and often hide in the hard to reach crevasses of your grinder. Without proper cleaning these tiny particles form a foul crust in the grinder, which can often be seen by a brown stain in the bean container or around the burr grinder blades.
Coffee Grinder Cleaning Tips
To combat the attack of old grind and boost your overall coffee quality, cleaning is essential. But how often should you clean your grinder? The answer is that you can never be too clean within reason. Whenever you have a quite period and especially at the end of the day, follow these best practises if you have time:
- Seal off the chute from the coffee container and grind out any excess coffee.
- Turn off the power.
- Remove the coffee bean container.
- Remove the coffee from the container and seal in a bag.
- If you have a manual dosing grinder, you should plunged the blades. This step cleans the insides of your grinder. You’ll need to obtain a ribbed toilet plunger to do this (not the one from the bathroom). (a) The plunger should sit flush over the blades and seal over the collar. (b) Plunge away and make sure you catch any coffee that comes out. When plunging, you are removing small portions of the grind within the grinder. (c) You’ll need to put the coffee bean container back on and activate the grinder for a few seconds. Repeat the above steps a few times to get a thorough clean.
- If you have an auto dosing grinder, grab a vacuum. (a) Use a nozzle attachment of your vacuum. (b) Put the coffee container back on, expose the grill where the coffee drops in and hold the vacuum to it. (c) Activate the grinder to remove any grind particles until you only see the metal around the grill. I recommend using a commercial vacuum for this process.
- Wash your coffee bean container and remove all the stains. Then thoroughly dry the container before putting it back on the grinder.
- Reassemble the grinder.
- Wipe out the dosing chamber with a damp cloth.
The above tips will give you a noticeable improvement in your quality as it’ll prevent old coffee from building up. However, if you want to take your cleaning practises up another level, you can disassemble the grinder unit completely (weekly or monthly) and clean all of the insides. It’s best to do this only if you’re an experienced tinkerer. But as long as you do the above steps regularly you shouldn’t have many if any problems with the internal compartments.