As its name suggests, the coffee grinder or grinder is used to grind coffee beans at home. Seen as such, one might wonder the interest of such a device when there is already ground coffee on the market ready to be prepared. This is without counting on the many advantages of a coffee grinder.
With a coffee grinder, you’re involved in the entire process of making your own cup of coffee from start to finish. This device allows you to obtain a fresh grind adapted to your coffee machine (filter coffee, espresso, piston coffee maker, Italian coffee maker, … ). However, it is important to note that regular and appropriate maintenance of your grinder contributes to an optimal coffee tasting experience, just as the quality of the grind itself contributes to an optimal tasting experience.
In this post, we will shed light on the essential steps to properly clean your coffee grinder. But first, let’s take a look at the different types of coffee grinders available on the market and the materials used in their manufacture.
The different types of coffee grinders
In the shops you will find electric coffee grinders and manual coffee grinders. The difference between the two models is obvious: one works automatically, while the other is used entirely by hand.
The choice between these two options will depend mainly on the needs you express. If you are usually late in the mornings, an electric model would be more suitable for you. It’s practical and saves you precious time, so you can get on with other things while your grind is being prepared.
However, of the different types of electric mills available, prefer models with conical grinding wheels to those with flat grinding wheels or blades. The latter tend to heat up the coffee beans, altering their flavour and character.
With a manual coffee grinder, it is certainly more fun to prepare your own grind. Of course, you have to use your arms to turn the crank, which can become tiring, but the special satisfaction that comes from this ceremony is worth it. Grinding your coffee with a manual grinder also ensures that you have perfect control over the amount of beans ground with each turn of the crank.
That said, to ensure the best manual grinding experience, pay particular attention to the quality of the grinder even though it may represent a more or less significant investment. Also, prefer lower rotational speeds so as not to degrade the flavour of the coffee.
What material for your coffee grinder?
As with the operating mechanism, you will also be asked to choose between several materials when purchasing your coffee grinder. It is essential to pay special attention to the different materials used in the manufacture of a coffee grinder, especially when it comes to the grinding system. For example, most models available on the market offer stainless steel or ceramic materials.
Stainless steel is strong and resistant. Ceramic, on the other hand, is known not only for its ability to grind coffee evenly, but also for its ability to maintain the aroma. It should be noted that a steel mechanism wears out much less quickly than a ceramic mechanism.
Similarly, several types of materials are used in the design of the coffee grinder body itself. Thus, whether electric or manual, a coffee grinder can be made of wood, stainless steel, plastic, brass, sheet metal, ceramic, titanium, aluminum, etc. (read our article on the best coffee grinders). If you opt for a plastic model, make sure that the whole device is really solid. Models that are made with metal alloys such as steel are much more resistant to everyday use.
How do you clean these different types of coffee grinders?
The maintenance of your coffee grinder will determine its performance. As a device that you will use regularly, it appears necessary to ensure that it is properly cleaned so as not to alter the taste of the coffee, to prolong the life of the grinder and to avoid incidents (power surges). In addition, it should be remembered that a coffee grinder that you stop using for a period of time may no longer function properly.
Many commercially available models have (plastic) parts that can be put in the dishwasher. However, it’s best to make sure before you do anything. You will also find models that come with a cleaning brush.
To maintain your coffee grinder, you can clean it regularly with a clean, dry brush. It will take you very little time each time. The process involves inserting the brush into the bowl of your appliance to remove embedded coffee residue.
It may be helpful to tilt the grinder slightly to let the waste pass on its own. Finally, it is strongly recommended to clean the inside of the bowl with a cloth.
However, regular maintenance of the grinder does not eliminate the need for more thorough cleaning. In principle, the cleaning process takes place in several steps and will certainly take you much longer than usual. When using an electric model, first make sure that the power is turned off.
The cleaning must then be done in several steps:
Place a sufficient quantity of raw rice in the vat (one quarter of a measure for standard coffee grinders).
Operate the mechanism to obtain a rice porridge.
Empty the rice porridge from the tank.
Use a brush (with stiff bristles) or a clean, dry cloth to clean the inside of the tank and all metal parts.
Dismantle the coffee grinder
Put the plastic parts of the coffee grinder in the dishwasher (if recommended by the user manual).
Rotate the coffee grinder under vacuum to extract the coffee beans uncovered by the brush.
Use soapy water and cotton swabs to get rid of grease on plastic parts.
Clean the outside of the machine with conventional cleaning products, making sure not to introduce water into the coffee grinder.
Assemble the whole thing and run the machine with basic coffee to extract the last remaining rice beans.
The use of water, dishwashing liquid or any other soap is prohibited to clean the inside of the coffee grinder, especially the blades.
These products may reduce performance and life span, or even cause the appliance to malfunction.
How often should I clean my coffee grinder?
Whether you have a modern model such as the Aicok coffee grinder or a vintage style coffee grinder, it is always recommended to clean the grinder simply right after use so that you can more easily remove coffee residue that has become stuck in the grinder. However, if you are a coffee lover, you should also clean your coffee grinder thoroughly every three months.
For people who don’t drink coffee regularly, there are effective ways to find out if it’s time to clean your coffee grinder. For example, when you notice how slow the machine is or when there is a mismatch between the coffee grinder and the type of coffee used (flavoured coffee), the machine should be cleaned quickly.
Also, if the quality of the grind is not really what you expect, you may also want to consider cleaning your coffee grinder.
How do I clean a wooden coffee grinder?
At the time, most coffee grinders were made of wood. Even today, there are still wooden models on the market. Collectors and other nostalgic merchants have turned them into a veritable chapel. In fact, it is the body of the grinder itself (case) that is made of this type of material.
The maintenance of wooden coffee grinders does not require more effort. For this purpose, you need very fine sandpaper. The operation consists of gently rubbing the surface, making sure to go in the direction of the grain of the wood. Sanding the case should remove all traces (traces of varnish) contained on the wood. Then, take a cloth to remove any persistent traces of dust and varnish.
To make your machine look good and especially to make the wood shinier, you can wax the case (with a brush or a cloth) using a colourless wax or a wax that has the same colouring as the wood. If the wood is dry, it may be useful to apply several coats to penetrate the wax. Finally, polish the case quickly and your wooden coffee grinder will look as young as new.