Unitasker Wednesday: Coffee Grinder Brush

Regular readers of this website know that I love coffee. I’m addicted and very glad to be. I find comfort in the routine of making and drinking coffee, and I squealed with glee last year when my husband bought me a conical burr coffee grinder for Mother’s Day. Sure, a grinder that only grinds coffee may be a unitasker for some, but it’s one of the loves of my life and I’m only getting rid of it if it breaks. Honestly, even if it breaks, there are no guarantees I’m quickly parting with it.

Other, less addicted (and likely more sane) individuals, probably use a smaller, multipurpose blade grinder that can process spices, coffee beans, tobacco, and nuts somewhat decently. The problem with using one grinder for different types of food stuffs, though, is that your coffee ends up tasting like allspice and your freshly ground cinnamon tastes like cashews. This cross contamination of flavors has spurred a line of grinder cleaner accouterments to attempt to solve the problem. Case in point, the Coffee Grinder Brush:

Sadly, this specialized brush can’t do the job of getting particulates out of your grinder any better than a pastry brush (which you probably already own if you’re grinding your own coffee and spices). Also, the particulates stick to the brush, pretty much defeating its entire purpose. And, with its wood handle and glued-in bristles, this brush isn’t suited for the dishwasher. Possible solutions are to have multiple grinders for separate purposes or to get a manual grinder that completely disassembles for cleaning. I use my conical burr grinder just for coffee, a mortar and pestle for grinding spices (among dozens of other uses), and my blender for larger items like dried chiles. Although this little brush is inexpensive and doesn’t take up much space, it’s not a feasible solution to any grinder-related problem. If you’re still tempted to buy it after my unnecessarily long rambling, go with a dishwasher-safe, stiffer bristle pastry brush instead.

Thanks to reader V for sharing this unitasker with us.

14 Comments for “Unitasker Wednesday: Coffee Grinder Brush”

  1. posted by AndrewL on

    My burr grinder came with a cleaning brush, as well as my kitchen aid pasta roller set (comes with pasta roller, fettuccine cutter and spaghetti cutter). I actually found that my Giotto Air Rocket Air blaster, which i use to blow dust off of my lens, works really well at blowing excess flour out of my pasta roller, and would probably work just as well blowing grinds out of your burr grinder. Unlike those silly “can-air” products, it never runs out, and you only need to buy it once.

  2. posted by Melissa@HomeBaked on

    An old tip I learned from watching Martha Stewart is to tear up a piece of stale bread (there’s always a heel lurking in the bag!) and grind that up in your coffee grinder. All the fine coffee or spice dust sticks to the bread crumbs, which are easily shaken out with a little help from the pastry brush. I think the bread also soaks up some of the residual oil from coffee or spices. It works every time!

  3. posted by Bill Burge on

    @melissa@homeBaked. That tip is for a whirly grinder coffee grinder like you’d grind spices in.

    The brush above is for a burr grinder and, in fact, does a better job than a pastry brush for cleaning out a burr ginder because it has finer bristles and a finer tip.

    If you take your coffee seriously and have an expensive grinder, it’s not really a unitasker.

  4. posted by Tom on

    A silicone bristle brush, like the one you linked to, wouldn’t be very effective. The bristles are too big and soft.

    The secondhand blade grinder I keep around for spices has a brush that attaches to the back and works nicely to clean it out.

    Mortar and pestle work, but are slow, especially for anything larger than a 1/2tsp.

  5. posted by Keter on

    I have yet to find any brush that works better than a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. I tear off a small piece to clean the bearing and crevices in my blade grinder in between grinding coffee and spices…I use it dry first, then wet, and it gets every bit.

    @AndrewL – thanks for pointing out the air blaster – http://www.giottos.com/Rocket-air.htm – I have about six uses for that. I HATE everything about canned air and have yet to run compressed air lines into the house (yes, I plan to do that, and yes, I’m a geek). ;o)

  6. posted by infmom on

    I just use an old toothbrush. :)

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    posted by Anita on

    … what AndrewL said. Or maybe just… blow on it? Not for germophobes, I suppose, but the human capacity to expel air at variable velocity can come in handy ;)

  8. posted by UK Organo Gold on

    Just goes to show the multi purpose application of the pastry brush. Perhaps you should go into business selling them as the latest and greatest Grinder Brush!?

  9. posted by Melissa A. on

    My coffee grinder came with a brush, but I do wash it sometimes. I just make sure to dry it really well. Also you can run uncooked rice through it and that helps clean it up some.

  10. Avatar of

    posted by pkilmain on

    I love my burr grinder. What is the brush for? We use a small sized pa int brush to clean out the coffee from the plastic container the coffee grinds into. The plastic gets very staticy and the brush grts allof the coffee into the filter…. A stiff brush wouldn’t work as well. The paint brush also works well to clean out the grinder as well.

  11. posted by timgray on

    IF your coffee grinder does not come apart to be cleaned, it’s a very low quality coffee grinder. Mine is disassembled weekly and put in the dishwasher. always nice and clean and looks new not like that old Krups $19.00 one that could never be cleaned and had chunks of gunk in places that would not come out…. YUCK!

    when buying a grinder, if it does not disassemble for cleaning, dont buy it.

  12. posted by CoffeeGirl on

    AUGH!! This hurts my eyes.

    FIRST – We are talking about a Burr grinder…not your blade grinder. Burr grinders cost $100-$2000 (my house one is $450), and do not disassemble easily – if you disassemble it, it changes all the settings that you worked so hard to get *just* *right*. They’re not made to be regularly disassembled. ALSO – Burr grinders work best when seasoned, not when sparkly clean. When they are sparkly clean they grind a certain size…then they quickly become a bit dirty and grind a different size. Once they are seasoned and have a layer of coffee oils on it, then your adjustments won’t have to happen so much – hence the need for a brush.

    SECOND – You could use a pastry brush, but it would not be ideal for cleaning your expensive burr grinder. Coffee contains a lot of oils, the grounds stick together because of these oils. The grounds stick in places because of those oils. The thicker plastic pastry brush bristles will just push this stuff around/deeper instead of (hopefully) absorbing and sticking to these oily pieces like this brush does.

    THIRD – NO CANNED AIR!! Yikes! This stuff is not light fluffy flour. It’s oily sticky coffee. While you may get rid of a lot of it (again, we’re talking about expensive burr grinders, not blade ones), you will also not deal with the oil issue AND possibly cram some crumbs deeper than where they need to go.

    LASTLY – Paint brushes are fine as long as they are natural bristle. Synthetic bristles do the same thing that pastry brushes do. This particular brush is good because it is *skinny* and *long* and can easily get into cracks and small deep spaces in the burr grinder.

    This is not a “unitasker” in the sense that it is *NECESSARY* to prolong the life of your grinder to have something of this nature to clean/brush it with. Think of it as your toilet bowl brush. It does have only one task, but you don’t want a multi-tasker to do it.

  13. posted by mata on

    This doesn’t strike me as a unitasker — I can imagine any number of uses for it, as with any brush. Your comments seem more to be that you don’t think it was particularly well designed for the purpose. On the other hand, I also have a burr grinder and use a brush like this to clean it. Coffeegirl’s comments are quite on point. Burr grinders and blade grinders are not this same.

  14. posted by Christina on

    I received a coffee grinder brush one Christmas and it has been the best tool ever. Ditto all the responses for having a brush ONLY for coffee cleaning. This tool is perfect for getting under the blade. I keep it with my coffee supplies and it needs little space. Sometimes a special tool is a good thing and not a bad unitasker.

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