You’re spending your time and grinding your coffee, but now it’s jammed, and you can’t get to that sweet, sweet coffee. How to fix a jammed coffee grinder?
You can fix a jammed coffee grinder in a multitude of ways, all of which we’re going to show you in this brief guide.
Even if you have what you believe to be the most complicated grinder in the world, don’t worry: we’ve got you covered.
1. Fixing Debris Buildup
A partially jammed coffee grinder can simply have some buildup of debris.
While this might appear like it’s a simple issue, it isn’t always visible to the naked eye.
If it’s a free-falling grinder that drops onto a filter, this is less likely to happen, but if your grinder requires you to put a brew basket inside the clasps, then this could be the problem.
The brew basket can push grinds back up into the drop chamber fairly easily.
Simply pulling the basket upwards a little too much when you grind your beans could send small particles back into the chamber.
The very little remaining moisture in coffee, accompanied by the oils, will produce the beginning of a block.
Coffee grinds will come down from the burrs and latch onto the debris, and eventually it’ll build up. To fix this, empty your bean reservoir and remove it if possible.
You’ll be able to tell how much oil has built up just by the residue on the edges of the reservoir, since the same amount is likely built up inside the chamber.
Use a soft bristle brush to gently knock any debris loose. It’s a good idea to have an empty brew basket with a filter already hooked up.
This not only catches debris for easy disposal, but then you can see just how bad the blockage was. Assemble and use Grindz grinder cleaner to remove residual oils.
2. Fixing Oil Buildup in Manual Units
Hand coffee grinders are excellent.
You can bring them with you on business trips to grind your own coffee (because that hotel stuff is abhorrent and you know it), they’re silent enough to use in the early morning, and they don’t rely on electricity.
The problem is, they build up oil far faster than an electric unit. The oil can make it harder to crank the whole thing, resulting in a pretty bad jam if left unchecked.
Disassemble your grinder very carefully. In most handheld units, you’ll have the burr itself, the rod, a spring, and a few washers.
Other types of units will have different parts, but this is the main makeup of a functional coffee grinder.
Not all the parts are going to near cleaning or debris removal since working parts that don’t directly touch the coffee need to maintain their grease to run smoothly.
Use a wet, soapy cotton cloth and pull one end through the chamber.
The edges are going to be filled with coffee oil, which is what’s making the burr(s) run so inefficiently and making them hard to spin.
Wipe the interior with the cloth. If you’re finding it difficult, hold one end of the cloth taut, and twist the other around the chamber to catch all the debris.
Run water from the faucet through the chamber to remove that last bit of buildup after scrubbing. Take a dry soft bristle brush to clean out your burr, and let everything air dry.
Regardless of what your unit is made out of, it’s imperative to let everything air dry to prevent rust.
3. Run it With Rice
Yeah, it sounds weird, but it’s a powerful solution that’s dirt cheap.
Take a cup of white rice, and simply grind it through your machine. If it’s a complete and utter clog (nothing coming out at all), then see the first solution about knocking debris loose.
White rice is abrasive and helps knock debris loose, but on top of that, it’s super absorbent to water and oil.
If you’ve ever heard of that trick to drop your wet phone into a bucket of rice to absorb all the liquid, that’s true, and it works for oil as well.
It’s going to ground up into a fine powder, and at that point, you’ll be able to see the residue that has discolored it.
Look inside the chamber and see if there’s any residual rice powder coating the interior. If so, run some more rice through because that powder might be clinging onto stubborn oil.
4. The Troublesome Bean
This may sound silly, but you’ll find a plethora of stories online where people took their grinders apart to find one bean jamming up the whole thing.
You have to remember that coffee roasting is done in large batches (unless you’re roasting at home, that is), and it’s not uncommon for one bean to get stuck in the roaster drum in between batches.
Then it gets roasted again and ends up in one of your bags of coffee.
Most of the time, the burr might have a slight hiccup sound where the grinder paused for a second or the sound just dropped, and it might grind it up.
Other times, the bean is like a pebble and gets stuck in the grinder, preventing the parts from moving properly.
Unplug your grinder, remove the top, and look inside. If possible, use a screwdriver or the handle of a fork to manually move the burr in a gentle clockwise motion.
You should be able to pinpoint any issues and see if a bean is stuck.
Why is My Coffee Grinder Going Slow?
You may have a partially jammed coffee grinder and it’s time for a cleaning.
As mentioned in the first method, grinds can build up inside of your burr and drop chamber.
This doesn’t always provide a change in output (to any noticeable degree) or a visible difference, but you will be able to hear it.
When your grinder slows down, it’s because debris has built around or inside of the burr(s), and the motor is working harder to provide fewer results.
If your grinder is going slow, stop using it right now before further damage is incurred.
It’s time to disassemble and deep clean it. It’s going slow due to debris, or a buildup of oil on the main working parts from an inadequate cleaning cycle.
The oil sticks directly to the burr, so it’s one of the two issues. Let’s say that you clean it out completely, and you’re still running into this issue.
Electric grinders do get old and need to be replaced. Look at how long you’ve owned the grinder if it was new, and your cleaning cycle habits.
If the grinder was going slow and the whirring sound wasn’t what it used to be and the damage could have already been done.
Consider replacing your grinder if cleaning doesn’t do the trick, and set a maintenance schedule for your new grinder to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.
What Are Grindz Grinder Cleaners?
Another way to clear a jammed coffee grinder is to use commercial cleaners. They’re used both commercially and at home, and they’re small grinder cleaners that look like vitamin pills.
These are the only designated grinder cleaner that anyone should be using if they don’t want to use natural methods.
Grindz is gluten-free, organic, flavor neutral, all-natural, and 100% food-safe. It’s the ultimate solution to cleaning out your grinder in between deep cleanings.
How Often Should I Clean my Coffee Grinder?
As someone who managed coffee house chains in the past, I can tell you that commercial coffee grinders undergo rigorous cleaning once every fourteen days.
You have to think that these are grinding about two-hundred or more pounds of coffee in that amount of time, so it’s undergoing extreme use.
Home grinders obviously don’t undergo anywhere near that much stress, even if you’re grinding and brewing twice a day.
However, they’re far less complicated than commercial grinders and built entirely differently.
Home grinders are built with the budget of a coffee-lover in mind, but commercial grinders aim for the relatively deep pockets of the big coffee houses and coffee chain operators.
Since the quality is different, it’s recommended to clean your home grinder once a month.
You could go as long as three months between intermittent use, but for the sake of preserving your grinder for as long as possible, once a month is the best course of action.
Can I Use Isopropyl Alcohol to Clean my Grinder?
It’s not recommended for use on anything plastic.
If you want to use it to sanitize your metal burr grinders or the stainless steel chamber of your hand grinder, you may do so, but isopropyl alcohol can dissolve plastic, causing it to leach chemicals into your coffee beans.
Most coffee bean reservoirs on electric grinder units are made with a dense acrylic, which is even more susceptible to dissolution from isopropyl alcohol.
You can opt for a natural solution, such as distilled white vinegar. This sanitizes, and while it leaves a little bit of a taste that you’ll have to wipe out, it is as natural as you can get.