Updated: July 16, 2021 by Owen Richardson
Any coffee expert knows the advantages of using a burr grinder to create a flavorful cup of Joe. However, not everyone knows how to clean a burr grinder at home. Proper cleaning is also quite essential to creating a good cup of liquid gold.
After all, you don’t want old bean juices ending up in your fresh batch of ground coffee. Regularly cleaning your burr coffee grinder will also extend the lifespan of your grinder and help it produce freshly ground coffee for you for even longer.
Luckily, cleaning your burr grinder is not too difficult and will only take up a small amount of time, depending on how often you clean your burr grinder, which we will also discuss in this article.
Why Should You Clean Your Grinder?
It may seem a bit harmless to have small bits of coffee stuck in the burrs when you are only putting coffee through the grinder. You also may not be too concerned about how it could affect the taste of your coffee if stale coffee bits make their way into the grounds chamber.
However, cleaning your grinder is not only about taste, since coffee beans contain oil and fine dust when ground. These particles can stick to the burrs, the bean hopper, and the ground chamber.
On top of causing a stale-tasting coffee, these bits and pieces will clog up the motor and break your burr grinder. Since burr grinders are quite pricey, this is a good reason to take extra care with your machine.
Luckily, the cleaning process is fairly straightforward and can be done using a few household items, and you will probably have most of them at home already.
Items You Need for Cleaning Your Burr Grinder
- A clean, soft-bristled brush
- A clean cloth
- Grinder pellets (optional)
- Some coffee beans (optional)
Brush: You can use any small, soft-bristled brush you can find around the house, whether it is a paintbrush or a toothbrush. This will help brush out any coffee powder hiding in the crevices of the burrs.
Toothpicks (wooden): This does the same job as the brush, but the hard wood will help you pick off any coffee residue stuck in the crevices or on the burrs.
Cloth: Any soft, clean cloth you don’t mind getting covered in coffee grounds and stains is fine.
Screwdriver: This one is only necessary if you need to take apart pieces of your grinder. Be sure to only do this if necessary and check the instruction manual to make sure you aren’t breaking your warranty by taking pieces apart.
Grinder Pellets: These aren’t absolutely necessary unless you are doing a deep clean and want to cover all your bases. If you are doing a regular light clean, you can skip this step. If you would like to clean the whole machine out, these Urnex Grindz Professional Coffee Grinder Cleaning Tablets are highly recommended.
Additional coffee beans: This is also an extra step that doesn’t always have to be done. If you would like to, you can add some beans in after cleaning and run them through the grinder. This will get rid of the last bits of residue and give back a small amount of oil to the machine to make it run effectively.
How to Clean a Burr Grinder: The Steps
Knowing it is easy to clean a burr grinder doesn’t exactly show you how to do it. While you can fiddle around with your grinder and learn how to use it on your own, it helps to have a step-by-step guide to take you through this process.
When cleaning your burr grinder, you have two options. If you choose the easy yet more expensive way out, you can simply pour in some grinder cleaning pellets and run them through the machine.
It may be a good idea to throw in those older beans afterward to get rid of any leftover pellet residue. While it won’t be harmful, it may not taste so great in your morning brew.
If you choose the only slightly harder way, then you can use household items and follow these steps:
Step 1: Unplug!
I know it should go without saying, but if you’ve got an electric grinder, do unplug it first to avoid unpleasant shocks. Moving it to a large surface to give you enough space to get to work.
Step 2: Take Apart Your Grinder
Start unscrewing and separate the components of your grinder. You should only need to remove the bean hopper and take out the top burr. Most grinders don’t have a removable bottom burr. Check the manual to make sure you aren’t removing any parts that you shouldn’t.
Step 3: Brush the Burrs
Start scrubbing away with your soft-bristled brush and toothpick. Start with the burr that you have taken out, and then move to the burr left in the machine.
Step 4: Clean the Chambers
Use the dry clean cloth to wipe down the inside of the bean hopper and the grounds chamber, and then wipe off the second burr you have pulled out.
And that’s it!
Precautions and Tips
For a more thorough and precise clean, you can use a vacuum with a hose nozzle attached and suck out any extra bean dust from the inside of the machine. Be careful not to suck up any screws that may be lying around from the grinder.
During the cleaning process, be sure not to get the burrs or the chambers wet. If anything does get wet, make sure to let it dry out thoroughly before placing it back in the grinder. If you skip this step, you may damage your machine.
You can then take the extra step of grinding up some beans to get the machine going again. This will season the machine and put just the right amount of dust and oil back in. Contradictory, I know! But it works.
Your grinder is now ready to grind those beans for your morning brew.
How Often Should You Clean a Burr Grinder?
How often you need to clean your burr grinder will depend on your bean usage and how often you grind up your beans. If you regularly use the grinder, you should give it a quick clean once or twice a week. This can be done by doing a quick wipe down of the bean hopper and the grounds container.
You should also schedule a deep clean, as shown here, about twice a month. This should keep your grinder clean and ready to deliver fresh coffee.
If you use very oily beans quite often, you may need to clean the grinder out more regularly. You can also clean it when you change coffee beans if you prefer a pure cup of Joe.
Can I use rice to clean my burr grinder?
While some sites suggest using rice as an inexpensive way to clean out their burr grinder, it is not recommended by some grinder manufacturers. The rice is said to be a substitution for grinder pellets; however, they are harder than the pellets.
The hard rice grains could damage your machine, and some brands void your warranty if you use rice to clean the machine out. Luckily, your burr grinder won’t need pellets if you clean it often enough using simple household items.
Can I grind spices in my burr grinder?
Grinding spices in your burr grinder is not recommended as the grinder is built for coffee beans. Certain spices may clog up the mechanisms and cause problems for you over time.
You could also start tasting these spices in your coffee, which won’t be a pleasant surprise. Spice should be ground up using a relatively inexpensive blade grinder instead.
Are burr grinders dishwasher-safe?
Certain burr grinders contain dishwasher-safe parts, such as the bean hopper and the grounds container. The burrs are usually not placed in the dishwasher as they need to be completely dry before being placed back in the machine. Besides, who can really wait that long for coffee?
You should make sure which parts are dishwasher safe on your grinder by checking the instruction manual.
How do you clean manual burr grinders?
You can clean manual grinders by disassembling the parts that you can and clean out the grounds chamber and burrs. You can use a soft-bristled brush, a dry cloth, and a toothpick to clean off the oils and residue.
Once you have cleaned the grinder thoroughly, you can throw in a few beans and grind them up to season the grinder and prepare it for use.
Time to Get Cleaning
If you are a coffee enthusiast, you will definitely want to keep all your gear as clean as possible. This will keep your coffee accessories fresh and ready to make you a strong cup of flavorful brew.
This article assumes you already own a burr grinder, but if you don’t and you only came here to see the effort it would take to have one, then you should definitely consider buying one.
A burr grinder is a great investment. Not only will a quality grinder last a long time, but it will also produce consistent coffee beans that make flavorful coffee. Grinding your beans at home will give you fresh coffee whenever a caffeine craving hits.
Now, if you don’t already own a coffee maker to go with that freshly cleaned or freshly bought burr grinder, then have a look at the top-rated coffee makers we have reviewed.