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When should you replace the burrs in your coffee grinder?

As baristas, we all understand the importance of our grinder in the production of delicious, consistent espresso. A quality burr grinder with on-demand grinding has become an integral part of all coffee shops. However, even the best coffee grinders require maintenance and one critical component to monitor is the burrs. Burrs are the cutting or grinding surfaces within the grinder that grind the coffee beans into uniform particles. Over time, these burrs wear down, affecting the quality of your grind.

Like any mechanical component, burrs experience wear and tear with regular use. The rate of wear depends on various factors, including the grinder's build quality, the type of beans used, the grinding frequency and the durability of the material the burrs are made from.

Coffee burrs

Signs of Burr Wear

Inconsistent Grind Size

One of the most noticeable signs of worn burrs is an inconsistent grind size. Instead of uniform particles, you may notice a mix of fine dust and larger chunks in your coffee grounds. This inconsistency affects extraction, leading to over or under-extracted brews. In other words, your extraction times are all over the place.

Increased Grinding Time

As burrs wear down, the grinder may take longer to achieve the desired grind size. This extended grinding time not only impacts efficiency but also increases heat generation, which can alter the flavor profile of your coffee.

Reduced Flavor Clarity/Change in Taste

Freshly ground coffee should exhibit vibrant flavors and aromas. However, as burrs degrade, they produce more fines (small particles), resulting in a muddied taste and diminished clarity in the cup. Trust your taste buds. If you notice a decline in the flavor and aroma of your coffee, despite using high-quality beans and following proper brewing techniques, worn burrs could be the culprit.

Grinding fresh

Warm Coffee Grounds/Blocking Grinder

As the burrs wear, they can cause the coffee grinds to heat up. If your grounds are too hot they can 'clump' and cause blockages in your grinder. Not only this, the flavour profile of your espresso is massively affected due to the loss of aromatic compounds.

Audible Signs

Listen closely to your grinder while it's in operation. If you notice any unusual sounds such as grinding, rattling, or metallic clinking, it could indicate that the burrs are worn or misaligned.

Visible Wear

If you notice significant signs of wear on the burr surfaces, such as dull edges, chipped edges, or uneven wear patterns, it's time to replace them. Visual inspection can reveal obvious indications of deterioration.


In the quest for consistent and delicious coffee, the condition of your grinder's burrs plays a crucial role. Regular maintenance, including cleaning and burr inspection, can help prolong their lifespan. However, understanding the signs of burr wear and knowing when to replace them is essential. By staying attuned to the performance of your grinder and understanding the signs of deterioration, you can ensure that every cup of coffee is tasting its best!

You can ask your espresso machine engineer to replace the burrs on your grinder; do get in touch if you need advice.

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