Grinder maintenance: burr removal in the Baratza Vario

As part of making excellent coffee at home, the grinder is one of the most important a coffee geek can and must own. What ever the brewing method we chose to use to make coffee,The grinder is responsible for grinding those precious coffee beans into appropriate range of size for that brewing method. Beside being over-looked the most by coffee enthusiasts who just started making coffee at home, the grinder maintanance might just be something that most people overlooked generally. Coffee grinder when used extensively will collect old grinds as well as coffee oils eventually in the nook and cranies of the grinder as well as on the burrs. 

So here are a list of symptoms that you might experience that might be tell you that you need to do some maintanance of your grinders:

- bitter taste in coffee even if you grind to appropriate size and brew it perfectly without over-extraction

-coffee ground have strange static 

-Coffee ground are clumping abnormally even though the same coffee at the same grind setting did not clump before 

-Channeling when you are pulling an espresso shot even though you take care to distribute the coffee properly in the portafilter

*To maintain the good working condition of your grinder, make sure that one in a while clean up the hopper that hold the bean with soap and water to clean off the old coffee oil that collect there. This is especially a problem if you use dark roast coffees.

* You can next use burrs cleaning products such as as GrindZ which is formulate to clean off the old coffee bits that get stuck in the burrs. I find it easier to just remove the burrs, that way I'm sure that I can get everything. This is where the problem comes in with the Vario that I use regularly. The top burr carrrier is extremly difficult to remove the from grinder. I was afraid at first to exert too much force as I thought I might break something. That is when I discovered I was not just the only one who have this issue; in fact a company actually address the issue by producing something that helps us to remove the burrs easier: enter the Orphan Espresso's  Vario burr removal tool:


What the tool is basically a plastic pipe with correct slots cut into it. You can probably do something like this yourself but it is sold by OE for extremely cheap so I just picked one up to go along with my order of parts for my lever espresso machines. So far, it make removing the top burrs of the Vario much more managable.

When you finish with removing the top burrs, make sure to have a brush to brush around the grind chamber to remove all the old grind. I find it helpful to also have a compressed air can to blow off any bits that are not accessible by the brush.

I always find that after cleaning the Vario, it always grind much better, and much more quite during the grinding; also the coffee produce also taste much better! 

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