Drinking espresso every damn day leads to a few things. One is dependancy on espresso. Another is dependancy on GOOD espresso. Thirdly, it leads to the knowledge of things that most people don’t know about who don’t like or care about good espresso. Like what? I’m talking about fun stuff like descaling espresso machines, but also other fun stuff that relates more to coffee grinders like grinder brushes and air dusters.
Keep It Clean – Coffee Grinder Maintenance
Yes indeed, it has taken me a while to gather together all the right gear to make a great cup of espresso at home, from the actual espresso maker itself, to a high quality burr coffee grinder, to the right beans…and the list goes on!
But one thing that I’ve discovered is a critical part of the espresso making process is probably one of the things that most people don’t like to talk about, and that’s cleaning – and today I’m specifically going to talk about keeping your coffee grinder clean, and the tools you’ll need to do that effectively.
Whether you own a blade grinder or a burr grinder, coffee grinding can be a messy affair. Particularly with espresso making at home, as you need a finer grind, and this leads to a mess that is slightly more difficult to clean. Why? To make espresso, you need a finer grind, which requires a burr grinder (blade grinders don’t cut it), and so you’ll end up getting tiny coffee particles stuck in the “teeth” of your coffee grinder burrs. This ultimately requires a deeper cleaning than your average cleaning job of just dusting off your counter.
Why You Should Clean Your Burr Grinder Regularly
Our coffee grinders are a lot like us. If they get dirty, and we don’t clean them, they start to run into problems. The thing is, while we might not think they’re dirty because externally they look fine, if you use your burr grinder for espresso-grade fineness, chances are your grinder could use a cleaning of some kind (unless you do it regularly). I tend to think of it as akin to flossing your teeth. Sure, you might be ok for a while if you don’t floss but before long its bad breath, cancelled dates, followed by gum disease.
The purpose of cleaning your burr coffee grinder goes beyond simply wanting it to look clean. When you leave old particles deep down in your grinder after getting ready to brew espresso, just because you can’t see them doesn’t mean they’re not there. And if they are there, and you leave them there too long, the problems begin.
Sometimes, when someone says that there will be problems if you don’t do such-and-such, it can often just be an idle threat. In this case, it is not, because leaving those stale coffee particles deep inside your grinder is going to eventually lead to coffee or espresso that tastes at best “off”, at worst, awful.
Also, because this is biologic matter sitting down in the works, it can lead to things like mould, rust, and stiffness. Hence, you’ll want to deep clean it regularly, and this doesn’t necessarily mean you need to completely dismantle your fancy grinder. You just need the right tools.
How To Deep Clean Your Coffee Grinder
The Breville Smart Grinder (pictured above right) is a great mid-priced coffee grinder that gives you the best of both worlds. Those two worlds are that of a higher end coffee grinder that cafés use, with plenty of adjustability and features, as well as a pricetag belonging to the world of normal people with regular incomes. Some grinders are just too expensive for any reasonable person to want to buy, but this one I find is classy but rather within financial reach. Some grinders that are used especially for espresso can cost thousands of dollars.
At any rate, the Breville Smart Grinder is a bit fiddly when it comes to cleaning the burrs. The chamber where the burrs sit is not exactly the most easily accessible place as far as getting in there with a cloth. And you probably don’t want to be flipping this thing upside down and banging it on the bottom, although that isn’t physically impossible either.
Datavac Electric Air Duster
Customers who have purchased the Breville Smart Grinder have mentioned that it can be quite fussy when it comes to cleaning. I think this could easily be solved by using something like the Metro Datavac electric duster to get in there and blow out the burr chamber.
This duster has all sorts of different applications, but you can absolutely use this electric duster on coffee grinders like the Breville Smart Grinder. The top burr is easily removable with just a turn and a tug. I much prefer using air than a brush to clean my grinder.
For the record, the Metro Datavac is not a “canned air” product – its an electric duster, which is quite different. For one thing the Datavac is also good for electronic gear. I use it all the time on my coffee grinders as well as my computer keyboards, and its a really effective cleaning tool that saves me time scrubbing away with a brush. It just makes cleaning easier.
That said, I also use the this Espresso Supply grinder brush. It has a nice wooden handle and is a great tool to have alongside the Metro Vacuum, which is another handy tool to have around when it comes to coffee grinder cleaning.
I find that if you clean your grinder on a regular basis, it takes far less time. I actually have “clean grinder” on my Google Calendar as something I remind myself to do regularly, and it really helps. I’ve got it down so it takes less than 10 minutes. Now you might be thinking that you don’t want to put something like cleaning your coffee grinder on your calendar, but since making coffee is generally a day to day thing, a weekly cleaning isn’t a bad idea, especially considering that leaving stale grinds sitting in your grinder can affect your espresso’s flavor – and we can’t have that!