Doing dishes, cleaning the shower, mopping the kitchen – it’s a part of life. Not cleaning your things tends to make them a lot worse, and this is also the case with coffee grinders. Regular cleaning will improve a grinder’s performance and increase its longevity. Thankfully, it’s pretty easy to do!
Basically, any surface that comes into contact with coffee will need occasional cleaning. Coffee contains oil, some of which is left behind on grinding surfaces – namely the burrs themselves, the grind chamber, and the discharge chute. Whole beans in the hopper will also leave behind oil residue. Generally speaking – the darker roasted the coffee, the more residual oil you can expect.
Cleaning these surfaces will improve the taste of your brews because you’re removing old coffee and coffee oils from them that would otherwise be sneaking into your dose. It’s also good for the longevity of your parts, as oil and particle buildup will make it harder for your machine to push ground coffee out and can add strain to the adjustment system.
The simplest way to clean these surfaces is to use the small wire brush which came with your Baratza grinder. Brushing away at the surface of the burrs, between the teeth, and along the inside of the grind chamber will remove most of the residual coffee material and should help with removing oils. The brush fits most of the way up into the discharge chute as well, and has a handle long enough to allow for easy cleaning of that passage.
This is our recommended cleaning method, but there are alternatives for those who like a more thorough approach. Cleaning pellets, made of compressed corn or grains, are widely available and can be ground through a machine just like coffee beans. These pellets will scrub every surface in the machine that would come into contact with coffee (they are ground just the same) and absorb any residual coffee material and oil. They’re a great and thorough way to clean, especially if you don’t want to disassemble your grinder to clean it. We recommend Grindz by Urnex.
Remember that these pellets are designed to mimic the structure of coffee beans, which is why they are safe to grind. Running rice or other non-coffee material through your grinder will cause significant damage, and will stop the machine from being able to function properly!
In the past, we’ve covered some of the differences you can expect when grinding light roast versus dark. One of the biggest differences is in cleaning.
Darker coffee tends to have a lot more surface oil, which means a grinder will get dirtier faster than it would if grinding light roast. This is no problem for the machine, so long as you are diligent in your cleaning. Generally, we recommend a good cleaning every 4-6 weeks. The darker your coffee, the more frequently you’ll want to clean.
In some cases, though, cleaning more frequently than that might be best. Grinding especially dark coffee like French roast might require biweekly cleaning to keep the speed at which your grinder processes coffee up to par.
Those cleaning pellets also come in handy if you grind extra dark coffee, since they do such a good job of scrubbing oils from the system.
Sometimes, a particularly deep clean is a good idea. If, for instance, your grinder processed flavor-added coffee and you want that flavor removed, or perhaps the grinder will be in storage for a length of time, then it’s a good idea to give it a really intensive cleaning.
A deep clean starts like a regular one: scrubbing out coffee particles and oil. Your burrs will be seasoned after use, which is to say they’ve absorbed some coffee oil. This is actually a good thing, because it protects the steel from rusting. A basic scouring is all they’ll need.
The next step is to detail the surface of the grind chamber and discharge chute. Cotton swabs are a great tool for this. Just get them a little damp with a food safe cleaner and scrub away. Discoloration from use won’t go away, so don’t look for gradually whitening surfaces. Instead, just focus on removing excessive odors.
Obviously, the grinder will smell of coffee, but the smell will dissipate slightly when the machine is thoroughly cleaned. If you’re trying to remove the scent of flavored coffee, just keep cleaning until the added smell is gone.
Also, always remember the hopper and grounds bin. These parts spend a lot of time in contact with coffee, and will need attention too. Thankfully, they’re easy to clean with a rag or even warm, soapy water.
Cleaning might feel like a bit of a chore, but it’s going to make a huge difference for your grinder. Coffee tastes better and parts last longer when you take good care of your machine.