Trying to figure out whether you need to replace the burrs inside your grinder?
Whether you own a low-budget or a high-end coffee grinder, it is still just a machine that is inevitably going to deteriorate over time.
The good news is instead of buying a new grinder, you can fix this problem by replacing its burrs.
But how do you know when it’s time to replace them?
Your coffee might not taste perfect every time, but with brewing being such an intricate process that requires accuracy on many fronts, how do you know that the burrs are the problem?
Additionally, the deterioration of your grinder’s burrs is happening slowly over time which makes the dull burrs even harder to identify.
This article will uncover 7 unmistakable signs that indicate the burrs in your coffee grinder need replacing so that you can enjoy delicious coffee every morning again.
Why Replace Burrs?
Many people aren’t aware that the burrs inside their coffee grinder need to be replaced regularly, even when owning a powerful machine.
The burrs themselves are usually made from steel, and come with a harder outer shell. The problem is that once the shell has worn out, the inside part is much more brittle and can cause you trouble when brewing your morning shot.
It is true that higher-quality burrs have a thicker outer layer that will generally make the burrs and the grinder last for a longer time.
But no burrs last forever.
Don’t worry, that doesn’t mean that you need to buy a spanking new grinder every time the burrs inside get dull.
Replacing the burrs will solve the brewing issues, save you cash and reduce waste. This is true even if you own a high-quality machine. You don’t need a new Breville Smart grinder - burr replacement will do!
How To Sharpen Coffee Grinder Burrs?
While it is possible to sharpen the blades in your grinder, if you own a burr grinder and the burrs are getting dull, due to their design, there is not much you can do. That’s why the best practice is to replace the burrs instead of trying to sharpen them.
How Often To Replace Burrs On Coffee Grinder?
It’s hard to identify a precise time after which it is best to replace the burrs in your grinder. This is because it all depends on how often you use it and what’s the quality of your burrs in your particular grinder.
As a starting point, it is a good idea to consider the manufacturer’s recommendations. These usually come in the form of pounds of coffee.
For example, if you own a Mr. Coffee machine, check your Mr. Coffee burr grinder manual to get an indication of how long your burrs can be expected to last.
Steel Vs Ceramic Burrs
If you’re looking for a more general recommendation, the steel burrs are should handle around 500lb of coffee, or around 225kg, before they need changing and the ceramic burrs will grind around 750lb, or 340kg, of coffee on average.
While the ceramic burrs tend to last longer, they also crack more easily. And while all machines are different, this is a good baseline to which you can compare the lifespan of your grinder.
Since it can be hard to track the amount of coffee your grinder has processed so far, the best way to get an estimated number is to look at how much coffee you use in a week, on average, and then multiply it by the number of weeks you’ve had your grinder for.
7 Signs That It’s Time To Replace The Burrs On Your Grinder
While the recommendations above will provide you with general guidelines on how often to replace the burrs, these are the 7 signs that give you a clear indication that the burrs on your grinder need replacing.
1. Deterioating Grind Consistency
A good-quality grinder with sharp burrs should grind the beans consistently with grounds that are similar in size with little variation.
The grind consistency is key to precise extraction and great-tasting coffee. So if your grinder starts having more variation in the size of the grounds, this can be an indicator that the burrs are too dull and need changing.
2. Uneven Extraction
Closely correlated to the problem of producing inconsistently ground coffee beans, is the uneven extraction of coffee.
If the extraction times suddenly slow down, the shots take longer to brew, or if the brewing times start to jump up and down for no reason, the dull burrs might be the culprit.
However, since there are so many factors that influence the extraction, you need to make sure that you’re following the recipe correctly and measuring the amounts precisely before you draw any conclusions.
If the coffee still doesn’t taste right, you know it’s time to change the burrs in your grinder.
3. The Grinder Is Making More Noise
When the burrs become dull, the grinder needs to work harder in order to get through the beans, which results in more noise, produced by the machine.
The noise is usually accompanied by burrs getting warmer than normal since there is more work required in order to grind the coffee.
But since judging the amount of noise can be very subjective, you need to compare it to the noise that your grinder was making when it was new. This can be hard to remember, so look out for other signs from this list too.
4. Decreased Performance Speed
When the burrs of your grinder aren’t that sharp, this decreases the performance of your grinder.
If it is putting out coffee slower than it used to, or the grounds are coming out in clumps, the burrs are likely to be causing the issue.
Is your Baratza Encore slow? It might be the time to change the burrs. But before you get to work, make sure that you troubleshoot your device to see whether it actually isn’t broken and check whether your grinder isn’t just dirty.
5. The Burrs Feel Dull
Feeling the burrs is a straightforwards method in which you can find out whether they are still sharp. Simply run your fingers along the burrs to get an idea of how sharp they are.
This method is only effective if you know what sharp burrs are supposed to feel like. You can still go with your best judgment and if the burrs feel dull, it is a good sign that they need changing.
How to Remove Upper Burr Breville Grinder?
- Unplug the machine
- Take off the upper lid
- Lock the bean hopper by rotating it anticlockwise
- Lift the hopper up
- Lift and rotate the upper burr according to the indication of the arrow
- Replace the burr if it is too dull
6. You Need To Grind On A Finer Setting
When the grind setting you normally use doesn’t produce the best-tasting coffee anymore, many people solve the issue by grinding the coffee on a finer setting to get the same result in taste.
This is only a temporary fix because it means that the burrs are worn out, that’s why replacing the burrs instead is the best solution.
7. Your Coffee Doesn’t Taste Right
If you’ve nailed down your brewing technique and your coffee just doesn’t taste right without any apparent reason, it is the burrs that might need replacing.
Dull burrs on your grinder cause more extra small grounds to be mixed in with your coffee and your morning cup having a bitter taste. And if your dull grinder produces an inconsistent grind that is too coarse, your coffee can taste muddy, flat, and dull.
Replacing the burrs will make your coffee taste vibrant again, with more pronounced tasting notes.
However, since the burrs deteriorate over time, and the change in taste is gradual, it might be hard to identify.
If the burrs in your grinder have been getting dull for a while, then chances are, you have slowly accustomed to the coffee tasting worse and worse.
This is why it is best to check other indicators from this list to get a clear idea of whether your burrs need replacing.
Do Your Burrs Need Replacing?
Replacing the burrs is the best way of how you can get your grinder back to the top condition and making your coffee taste great again.
It can be hard to say how often the burrs need to be replaced since the frequency depends on the grinder, burr quality, and your use.
But if the burrs don’t feel sharp to touch, the grinder is making too much noise and the extraction is not consistent, you know it is time to replace them.