If you’re like me, you’re always looking for a better cup of coffee, whether that’s using fresher beans, trying a new method of brewing or experimenting with different grind settings. If you’ve purchased a new grinder, you may have noticed that it ground your coffee really well at first and the resulting cup tasted amazing. But as the months passed, the coffee didn’t seem to come out tasting as good as it once did.
Why grinders break down
This is normal and is a byproduct of grinding coffee as residual oils from the beans, especially dark roasts which typically have the greatest amount of oil on the exterior of the coffee beans and flavored coffee (ugh), get trapped inside the grinder along with stale coffee grounds from prior grinds.
We’ve discussed how ground coffee goes stale very quickly, within minutes of grinding. Anything left in your grinder and not cleaned out will degrade the next batch of coffee you grind as old, rancid oils and stale grounds end up getting mixed in with newly ground coffee which ultimately gets put back into the coffee you brew. This cycle repeats itself and snowballs until the grinder is either cleaned properly or breaks down due to the coffee oils causing problems. Meanwhile the cup you brew gets continually worse.
A great way to clean out your grinder is to use uncooked, white rice. You can even use instant white rice. If you use a blade grinder, fill it with rice up to the blades. If you use a burr grinder, add 2-3 tablespoons worth of white rice and set the burr grinder to the finest grind setting that it will go to. Start the grind.
After you’ve finished grinding, you’ll notice that large clumps of previously ground coffee are now clinging to the powdered, white rice and after dumping the grounds out, you should see spots inside the grinder that you could never fully clean before now looking close to spotless. The inside of the grinder should overall be a lot cleaner than before as most of the old, rancid coffee oils also attached themselves to the white rice. In fact, I’d bet this is the cleanest you’ve seen your grinder since you bought it. Coffee grounds are attracted to the starch in the rice, that’s why this technique works so well. It’s pretty amazing.
Repeat this process until the ground rice no longer has any coffee particles in it. The first run will get most of the bigger particles out. Subsequent runs will further clean the grinder. After the rice you run through the grinder no longer picks up any coffee residue and is just as white coming out as it was going in, run a small batch of coffee through the grinder. Do this to clean out any remaining rice particles. I would not use this rice hack daily. Possibly weekly. Definitely monthly. What you should do is clean out your grinder using a brush after you’ve finished grinding coffee each day. The grounds and oils that build up over the course of a few days aren’t really enough to make that huge of a difference but after a week or so, I’d recommend the rice hack. You’ll notice a huge improvement in taste the next time you make coffee.
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