Whether you use a drip coffee maker or a French press, almost every coffee connoisseur agrees that the perfect cup starts with freshly ground roasted coffee beans. Once the exterior of the coffee bean breaks, the volatile oils that add aroma and flavor begin to evaporate. Grinding the beans at home just before brewing the coffee provides the most flavor — but leaves behind oils and grounds that need to be cleaned.
Most coffee-lovers use an electric grinder but hand grinders are still available if you need a good workout before every cup! The electric versions are either blade or burr grinders. Blade grinders use a rapidly spinning blade to pulverize the coffee beans. They come in a variety of sizes and are inexpensive. Burr grinders use either two flat serrated disks or a conical serrated disk to grind the coffee. Coffee shops use the more expensive conical grinder because it produces a more consistent grind.
Whatever type of grinder you choose, it must be cleaned properly to prevent the build-up of oils from the beans. The oils can quickly become rancid and spoil the flavor of your coffee.
How Often to Clean a Coffee Grinder
If you use your coffee grinder every day, a quick cleaning every week is recommended. If oils from the beans are not removed regularly, they will become rancid and produce a bad odor and taste. Even an occasionally used grinder should be cleaned before storing to remove the oils so it is fresh and ready to go when you need it.
Mini coffee grinders are perfect for grinding whole spices so that you get the most flavor. Keep separate grinders for coffee beans and spices to prevent the mingling of flavors. Clean the spice grinder after every recipe preparation so it is ready for the next cooking session.
Equipment / Tools
- 1 Microfiber towel
- 1 Sink or large bowl
- 1 Stiff-bristled bottle brush
- 1 Non-abrasive sponge
- 1/4 cup Uncooked rice
- 1 Dishwashing liquid
- 1 Coffee grinder cleaning tablets (optional)
How to Clean a Blade Coffee Grinder
When it's time to clean a blade grinder, an absorbent material should be used to gather the oil that clings to the blade and grinding container. Grinder cleaning tablets composed of natural grains are available in coffee shops or online. Or, you can use plain, dry, uncooked rice.
Add Rice or Grinder Cleaning Tablets
Pour one-fourth cup of dry, uncooked rice or the recommended amount of the grinder cleaning tablets into the hopper of the blade grinder.
Run the Grinder
Turn on the grinder and run it until all of the rice or tablets are reduced to a fine powder.
Power Down the Grinder
Once the rice is pulverized, turn off the grinder and unplug it from the wall outlet.
Empty the Grinder Hopper
Dump the pulverized rice into a trash can. Give the grinder a few taps on the side of the can to help loosen any rice powder that is trapped in the hopper.
Dampen a lint-free microfiber towel and wipe down the interior of the hopper. Take extra care around the blades. Dampen the towel to remove any fingerprints or grime from the exterior of the grinder.
How to Clean a Burr Coffee Grinder
Burr grinders are a bit more complicated to clean. Burr grinders vary in size and configuration but all, including hand grinders, should be disassembled before cleaning. Always refer to the owner's manual for cleaning instructions for your model.
Remove the Hopper and Clean
Since most burr grinders have a large hopper to store coffee beans, cleaning should be done when the hopper is empty. Remove the hopper and wash it, the lid, and any removable sealing gaskets by hand in a sink of hot, soapy water. Rinse well with hot water and dry with a microfiber cloth.
Turn on the Grinder
If possible, turn on the grinder and let it run for a few seconds to pulverize any remaining bits of beans caught in the burr blades. Immediately unplug the grinder.
Remove and Wash Some Components
Following the owner's manual, remove any parts (except the burr) that come in contact with the coffee beans like the bin that catches the coffee grounds. Hand wash the components in a sink of hot, soapy water using a non-abrasive sponge, rinse with hot water, and dry with a microfiber towel.
Remove and Clean the Burr
Remove the flat burr disks or the conical burr. This may require a screwdriver. Use a stiff bottle brush to loosen and remove the coffee grounds that are stuck to the burr surfaces. Use a dry microfiber cloth to wipe down the burrs and absorb any oils.
Do not wash the burrs with soap and water. This can cause rusting.
Reassemble the Burr Grinder
Once every component is clean and thoroughly dry, reassemble the coffee grinder and it is ready to use.
If you choose to use coffee grinder tablets rather than hand cleaning a burr grinder, follow the instructions on the label for the correct amount of tablets to use. After processing them through the grinder, add about one ounce of coffee beans to the hopper. Let the beans pulse through the burr and then discard the ground coffee and wash the bin well to remove any bits of the cleaning tablets.