When on the market for a new coffee grinder, you will have to choose between a burr and a blade grinder. Both of these grinders have their pros and cons. Burr grinders have the advantage of doing a better job of grinding your coffee beans, but they are slightly costlier. If you will be spending the extra money on a burr grinder, you might want to know how long it will last. We will be answering this question below and discussing how you would know when to replace the grinder or the burrs, as well as what to do to ensure the grinder lasts as long as possible.
How Long Does a Burr Coffee Grinder Last?
This is a complicated question as several factors determine how long it will last. Some of these factors include the quality of the product, how frequently you use the grinder, the type of coffee you grind with it, and so on. However, the conservative estimate for how long a coffee burr grinder lasts is 5 to 8 years. To get this many years out of your burr coffee grinder, ensure you purchase well-reviewed products with a proven record of longevity and durability.
When Is It Time To Replace Your Burr Coffee Grinder
Even though the estimate above is for a regular burr coffee grinder that does not mean that the one you have will last as long as the best coffee grinder. That is why it is so important to learn to identify the signs that tell you it is time to replace the grinder.
The first thing you will likely notice is a change in flavor. The size of the coffee grounds you use determines the flavor of your coffee. Finer grounds result in stronger flavors that are less bitter. Medium and coarse grounds will usually produce coffee that is bitter and weak.
The size of the grounds is determined by how well your burr grinder works and how long you grind for. If you notice that your flavor is off, or you need to grind for longer to get the same ground size, it is time to start thinking about replacing the grinder.
The second sign is increased noise. Burr coffee grinders are not silent as you use them. However, you may notice the grinder get louder as it is used. This happens because some parts wear out leading to vibrations mainly in the motor shaft. You may also notice a lot of noise as the machine starts up. This usually means the parts are wearing out, and the machine has to produce more torque just to get everything up to speed.
Signs that it is Time to Replace the Burrs
The signs discussed above tell you when it is time to replace the burr coffee grinder as a whole, which should happen after a minimum of five years. However, the burrs in the grinder need to be replaced every one to two years for retail models and once or twice a year for other models. But how do you tell when the burrs need to be replaced?
The best way to know if the burrs need to be replaced is by using your hands. Running your hands against the edge when the burrs are new will help you know the extent of the damage when you do the same once the grinder has been in use for some time
If you did not run this test when they were new or cannot remember how they felt, you can also check them. Disassembling the grinder should be straightforward if you have the right instructions and manual. Once the disassembly is complete, wipe the burrs with a soft cloth or paper towel and look at them. They should have a well-defined, sharp edge. You can also touch the edges to determine if the burrs feel as sharp as they should.
If you feel the burrs are not as sharp as they used to or as they should be, it is time to replace them.
Inconsistent Coffee Grounds
The size of the grounds is key to the coffee’s flavor as mentioned and the burrs are key to ensuring grounds are of the right size. When the burrs become dull, they mush the coffee grounds instead of grinding them. This happens because the dull edge is not able to “slice” the beans, only smashing and cracking them. Both of these processes lead to grounds that are of different sizes instead of the consistent fine size and feel you would expect.
Do note that there will always be different ground sizes depending on the settings on your coffee burr grinder. A slight diversity should not be a cause of concern, but too much inconsistency should be.
The taste and texture will not be the only thing affected because the life expectancy of the grinder itself can be reduced if this continues for too long.
Needing To Grind Finer
You may have been used to grinding at a certain setting and getting a consistent ground size. However, you may find that you need to use settings for finer grounds as time goes by. This happens because the previous setting is not grinding fine enough. If you need to go down to finer settings to get the same grind you used to before, your burrs need to be replaced.
Grinding at a finer setting (which puts a lot of strain on the grinder) is a temporary fix and you will keep switching to finer settings until you replace the burrs.
Chunks of Coffee Clumped Together
If you use an espresso grinder you might notice the grounds starting to come out in clumps. This mass of coffee can be broken up easily and doing so does not usually affect the flavor. However, this clumping is an indication of the mashing action we discussed early and an indication that your burrs have become dull.
Increasing The Life Expectancy of your Burr Coffee Grinder
No burr grinder coffee will indeed last forever, and you will see tears and wear until the machine is no longer usable or serviceable. There are a few things you can do to ensure the machine keeps serving you for as long as possible.
The first thing you remember is to always treat the grinder as just a coffee grinder. You may think that since it is just a grinder it will be fine to use it to grind nuts and spices. Grinding anything else other than whole roasted coffee beans will dull the burrs. Also, always check your coffee for stones and rocks that, even though rare, can damage the grinder if present.
Second, always use a coffee burr grinder on a flat, even surface. Grinding at an angle will put a lot of strain on the bur shaft, which can cause uneven grinding but, more importantly, leads to damage.
Always use high-quality and properly roasted coffee. The density and weight of coffee depend on if it was picked at the right time and how it was roasted. Low-grade and improperly roasted coffee can dull the burrs. Also, these coffee beans can degrade the flavor of the final cup of coffee.
Lastly, remember to clean the burr grinder coffee after every use. Doing so removes residue and oils that can attach to the burrs and walls, turn rancid and destroy your coffee’s flavor.
Cleaning a Burr Coffee Grinder
Cleaning is an important maintenance task that can help improve not only the taste of the coffee you make with the grinder but the lifespan of the grinder, too. The first step when doing so is turning off the grinder and ensuring it is unplugged from the wall. Next, remove the chamber and hopper and wipe them down with a lint-free cloth or coffee filter. Doing so helps remove the oils and residue you can see.
Some oil stains are harder to remove, so you will need to use some warm water and unscented soap. Rinse everything immediately after to avoid the flavor of the soap from contaminating your grinder. Since water can cause the corrosion of the motor and burrs, ensure you dry everything immediately. Another clean lint-free cloth will work just fine.
Next, we have to clean the outer burr. You can remove it by twisting it gently until it separates from the grinder. Never attempt to remove the inner burr unless you know what you are doing. Cleaning these burrs will be harder because there are a lot of small spaces to work with. Use whatever works (earbuds, toothpicks, etc.) to clean these smaller spaces. Compressed air and vacuum also work well.
Once everything is clean and dry, it is time to put it all back together. Once you do, grind a few beans to see that everything works fine. This deep cleaning process should take about 15 minutes.
Knowing how long a burr coffee grinder will last is almost impossible, but you can get a rough estimate by considering a few factors such as level of use and types of coffee use. The burrs need to be changed after every six months if the grinder is used every day, and the grinder itself can last up to eight years.