We clean our grinders!
I was reading an article today in the most recent edition of Barista magazine about "spring cleaning" that other coffee professionals recommend be conducted on the espresso machine and grinder. More than one of the folks quoted in the article mention that cleaning out the grinders is something that should be done once a month or once every few months or even less frequently. One of them even said that it "took so long" that they don't do it very often.
At Phoenix, we have now educated all of our baristas on how to completely take apart both espresso grinders, vacuum it out, inspect and clean the grinding burrs and the grinding chamber, wire brush the grinding collar threads, and reassemble (re-adjusting the grind in the process), being sure to switch the regular and the decaf grinders (this ensures that the burrs wear more evenly). This process is completed at all four cafes at least once a week. We have found that it only takes about 10 minutes to complete the process, once you're proficient at it. Furthermore, this maintenance procedure noticeably contributes to espresso quality, since the grinder doesn't have to work as hard to pulverize the beans when it is nice and clean inside. And this cleaning process also removes any stale coffee-oil build up that might also adversely affect flavor.
Wes Johansen, a barista at our Lee Road store, even carried his new-found knowledge a step further and when our regular grocery store style coffee bean grinder malfunctioned, he dismantled and un-clogged it, and reassembled with great results! Fantastic job, Wes!
So it made me quite proud of our well-educated staff when I read the article in Barista magazine. Yet again, we are exceeding our competitors standards and constantly raising our coffee and espresso standards. Go Team Phoenix!