Let’s say you own a Baratza grinder. You’ve had it for a few years now and you’ve been enjoying fresh ground coffee on demand. When you boil it all down, a coffee grinder is just a machine that turns burrs. Machines need to work over long periods of time, a car needs new tires eventually, a flashlight needs a new bulb, etc.
So when does a burr grinder need new burrs? Well, actually – probably not as soon as you’d expect!

What is the expected lifespan of a burr set?

The steel burrs we use in our conical burr grinders come from a manufacturer named Etzinger, out of Liechtenstein, with whom we’ve worked for as long as we’ve built grinders! They’re precision-milled and made from high-carbon steel. This makes them durable and strong, which means they last a long time.

When does a burr grinder need new burrs?

Specifically, a set of steel burrs should perform well for about 500lbs of coffee grinding. A set of ceramic should go for about 750lbs.

Let’s say you go through one pound of beans in a week on average. At that rate, your burrs should last for almost 10 years! So if that’s about how old your machine is, then indeed it may be time for new burrs. If you’re unsure, there are other ways to tell!

How to tell when a burr set is worn.

You can’t feel the edge of a burr for wear, at least not in most cases. Instead, you need to focus on other symptoms. There are two big things to look for when a burr set is worn.

First, if you notice that the grinder is putting out coffee more slowly than it used to, or seems to struggle to grind lately, this can be a sign of wear. Be advised, though – it is more likely a symptom of another issue. It’s best to do some basic troubleshooting or to reach out to our support team if you see this happening.
Second, if the machine appears to be grinding finer overall than it used to, this can also be a sign of wear. Again, there are more likely culprits for this behavior that you’ll want to look for first. Our troubleshooting page or the helpful support team can assist there.

If my burrs are actually worn, do I replace the grinder?

No, actually. We often like to say “Don’t Dump it! Fix it!” and that applies here too. Although these burrs can’t realistically be sharpened, they can be removed and replaced with new ones after just a little disassembly (or we could always do it for you!) That way, your machine can keep on grinding! Just replacing a part, rather than the whole machine, is a great way to save money and reduce waste!

In for the Long Haul

So first and foremost – don’t worry about those burrs just yet. They’re strong and will serve you well for a long time. You will eventually need new burrs, and when that time comes it’ll be easy to replace them.

Read the insights by Kyle Anderson, Baratza Co-Founder and Chief Engineer