Yes, You Should Be Cleaning Your Coffee Grinder

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Sometimes, out of laziness, I trick myself into believing that if an item has one function and only one kind of content ever goes into it, it doesn’t need to be cleaned very often because there’s no risk of contamination. This is not true. It’s delusion. Take coffee grinders, for example. Yes, you fill them with beans and ground them up into grinds and nothing else ever really goes on in there. It’s not wet, you never add anything other than beans, and you can put more beans on top of the grinds and keep the cycle going forever. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t clean it. In fact, you really, really should. Here’s how. 

Why clean a coffee grinder?

First, let’s make sense of why you should clean your coffee grinder. Though the beans may not strike you as wet or dirty, they can have some oils on the exterior that builds up in there, which can make your coffee taste bad eventually. If you use the machine every day, you should actually be cleaning it once every week or two. If you use it less often, try to clean it every time you use it, before you put it away. As a general rule, if your coffee starts tasting weird, just clean your grinder.

Here’s how to clean the two main kinds of grinders, blade and burr. Before doing so, give them a quick run to pulverize any last bits of beans that might be in there somewhere. 

How to clean a coffee grinder with a blade

If your grinder uses a blade, you need to focus on getting the oils off of it. To do this, you can use store-bought grinder cleaning tablets, like these from Urnex, which come in a set of three for $12.98. You can also use plain old rice. Either way, you’ll be adding the tablets or the rice (about a fourth-cup) into the hopper, then grinding them up into powder, like you would coffee beans. Unplug the machine, empty the powder into the trash, and make sure nothing is left behind before you wipe it out. You can just use plain water on a cloth or paper towel for this. Don’t try to put anything in the dishwasher, since it’s electrical. Instead, just use your plain water to remove anything inside and outside the machine, then let it air dry completely before plugging it back in or putting it away. 

How to clean a burr coffee grinder

For a burr grinder, take the machine apart and clean every component with a wet rag or soapy water. Don’t dampen any electrical parts. To clean the burr itself, refer to your owner’s manual to figure out how to remove it and don’t be surprised if this requires a screwdriver or some real labor. Brush any remaining beans and grounds from it, then wipe it down with a dry cloth to absorb the oil. Avoid putting water on the surface so it doesn’t rust, but if you have to, make sure you completely dry it with that same dry cloth. Air dry every component separately before reassembling. 

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