Cleaning Your Burr Grinder

Before you read this article, determine whether you really need to clean your burr grinder. Most people don’t drink enough coffee to notice a performance hit on the grinder. Don’t mess with the metal parts of the grinder unless you need to. If all you want to do is make the plastic parts shiny, focus on Step 2 and ignore the rest.

Dirty Grinder
Dirty Burr Coffee Grinder

Clean Grinder
Clean Burr Coffee Grinder

You may need to clean your grinder if…

  • You notice that the grinder is significantly slower than when you first bought it. A grinder’s performance will deprecate over time due to oil and residue buildup, mostly as a result of grinding very oily coffee such as espresso roasts and french roasted beans.
  • Someone snuck into your kitchen and ground flavored coffee in your grinder which is not intended for flavored coffee
  • You regularly grind flavored coffee, and the recent grind results seem like a hodge-podge of flavors

Step 1

Set the grinder for espresso grind, then put a handful of raw, uncooked white rice in the grinder. The result of the first batch will be a salt-and-pepper-looking grind. Keep putting rice through the grinder until it comes out as clean and white as the driven snow. Throw away the rice grounds unless you can think of something better to do with them.

Rice in the grinder
Put white rice in the grinder

Rice results
Results from the rice cleaning

Step 2

Unplug the grinder. Remove the plastic resevoirs from the top and side of the grinder. Both of these pieces are dishwasher safe. Just wipe them down with a damp cloth to remove the coffee oil build-up, then stick them in the dishwasher.

Step 3

The metal pieces must be kept dry, don’t spray anything into the grinder. Instead, locate a clean, dry paint brush; preferably one with a slightly stiff bristle. Use the paint brush to dislodge the coffee grounds and oils from the inside of the grinder. Then turn the grinder over and slap the sides. Lots of grounds will come flying out of the interior. Repeat this process as long as more grounds come out.

Burr Grinder Cleaning Tools
Burr Grinder Cleaning Tools

Step 4

If more oil remains on the plastic parts, use cotton swabs/Q-tips to clean the plastic. If the oil is stubborn, you can dampen the Q-tips with soapy-water. Just make sure that the water doesn’t come into contact with the metal and that the soap doesn’t remain behind. You can also clean the outside of the grinder with soapy water on a damp cloth, or by spraying a cleaner (like 409) onto a paper towel prior to cleaning the parts of the grinder that will not be in contact with the coffee.

Step 5

Reassemble the grinder. At this point, it will be very clean and will run like a champ. I suggest priming the grinder with a round of throw-away coffee. This will ensure that any remaining rice or soap residue won’t make its way into your next cup o’ joe.

clean burr grinder
The Burr Coffee Grinder After Being Cleaned

More Tips

Very, very occasionally, I’ve noticed that some of the rice I buy has small pieces of stone in it. A stone could mess up a grinder. Before adding rice to your grinder, do a quick visual inspection.

Carol Pendell sent us this tip:

I was looking for a small tool to clean around the burr in my grinder after several sticky grinds of French roast beans- when my daughter and I both Jafra Cosmetic Intl. Skin Care Consultants came up with the perfect tool – a mascara wand and the trusty blush brush. Both are small enough to fit between the burr without harming any function. Clean as a whistle and my cup of Joe is great.

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Lura Lee

Founding member of INeedCoffee, Lura Lee, contributed content for a while, then stepped away.She came up with the original tagline "Caffeination Information." Now she enjoys coffee, but no longer pursues coffee as a hobby. You can find her entrepreneurial efforts elsewhere on the web and in B-2-B circles.

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