Let’s face it, your coffee equipment is begging for some attention. From the grinder to the coffee pot, it’s time for a total clean. Not only does it feel good to wipe away the grime and grit left by weeks (months?!) of desperate brewing—because we’re all a bit blurry-eyed when we make that first cup of joe—but it also will make your coffee taste noticeably better.
Coffee oils, which start to secrete from your beans as soon as they come out of the roaster, are not exactly like cooking oils in that they’re not fatty and greasy. They do tend to hang on to surfaces like glass, plastic and stainless steel though, like cooking oils. After a while, especially as they build up into a noticeable residue, these leftover oils can affect the flavor of any fresh batch you brew. We want to banish all lingering residue and wake up to a squeaky-clean coffee setup. That means truly cleaning everything it takes to brew your perfect cup, from your coffee grinder to your brewing device, and even your kettle and the coffee pot itself.
Here are some easy ways to make sure you’ve got mean, clean coffee bean machines. To learn even more, our friends at Wirecutter have ideas for how to clean your coffee maker, too.
Start by Cleaning Your Coffee Grinder
Coffee oils are one of a few offenders when it comes to cleaning out your trusty burr grinder. The heat created from those whirring blades will actually start to cause any trace of oils to turn rancid, which will certainly ruin that mug of your favorite breakfast blend. Another thing you’ll want to flush out of this equipment are any fine particulate of coffee; the dust created from bean friction in the grinding chamber can build up and cause clogs over time. No thanks! To clean the burrs, use a kitchen appliance cleaning set to get in the crevices. Then run the machine with either cleaning tablets or about ½ cup of uncooked white rice, grinding it as though it were a batch of coffee beans. The cleaning tablets and/or porous grains will absorb oils as well as flush out any of those tricky coffee fines. After you’ve cleared the tablets or rice, grind and discard a tiny bit (1 tablespoon should do) of whole-bean coffee as a “purge,” to make sure you’re not brewing some kind of weird pasta-ccino.
Maintain a Scale-Free Kettle
Depending on the mineral content of your water, and the way it’s treated, both electric and stovetop kettles can start to build up what’s called scale—basically whatever mineral deposits that are left over after boiling. Some of your liquid will evaporate and leave salt, potassium and other compounds behind. Scale can look like a white ring inside your kettle, or it can cause rust. Instead, OXO’s food-safe descaling solution is an easy, powerful, and fast way to remove that unwanted gunk. Simply boil a ¾-full kettle of water, add the recommended amount of the descaler and wait five minutes for the magic to happen. Discard the water, give your kettle a rinse, and boil and discard a batch of clean water before brewing again. You’ll practically be able to check your hair in the shiny surface while you’re waiting for your coffee to finish!
Give Your Brewer a Regular Bathtime
Most glass, plastic and ceramic coffee brewers and pots—including your pour-overs, cold brew coffee makers, electric coffee makers and the base of any French press—can also be cleaned using the odorless and tasteless descaling liquid, either by soaking smaller parts in a hot-water bath with descaler in it, or brewing a water cycle with descaling liquid mixed in. (Be sure to run a cycle with just water after cleaning your equipment before making coffee.) While deep-cleaning your coffee kit is a great seasonal activity, it also helps to keep things nice and tidy as you go along your daily routine. Thankfully, OXO also has a handy way to get the cruddy used grounds out of the bottom of your French Press—a chore that almost any press-lover will tell you is even worse than when they drink the last drop of that precious morning brew. The specially designed coffee spatula scrapes and lifts out grounds while also acting as a kind of mini squeegee on the brewer’s walls, which can make life a lot easier when it comes time to remove oils as well. (As an added bonus, this tool isn’t a unitasker: You can also use it to clean cold brew coffee makers, blenders and food processors. Hooray!)
Should You Use Vinegar to Clean Coffee Makers?
Avoid the old myth of using vinegar water to soak and clean your kettles, coffee makers and pots since the metal or glass surface can easily pick up remnants of the smell and flavor—which, by the way, is not delicious in coffee. Plus, while vinegar is great at gently breaking down hard water deposits, it’s less ideal for coffee makers because it does not effectively remove the oils secreted by coffee beans. The OXO’s food-safe descaling solution is the easiest way to eliminate vinegar from your cleaning routine. It uses citric acid to safely and effectively clean coffee makers and kettles so you can easily maintain squeaky-clean equipment. Happy sipping from the caffeine team over at OXO, and remember: Clean always tastes better!