If you regularly grind your beans, you’ll almost certainly be familiar with one of the biggest – and messiest – potential pitfalls.
So, you’ve just finished grinding your beans, and you remove the grounds container. The next thing you know, coffee dust goes flying and clings to your hands and the grinder chute. Next, you pour the ground coffee into the brewer, and several grams of coffee are left stubbornly sticking to the side of the chamber.
Static produced by grinding coffee beans cause the issue. But how can we reduce it? Indeed, is there even a way to do so?
We don’t like seeing any coffee waste, least of all when it creates a mess on our hands and kitchen countertop. Thankfully, there are some small but effective hacks to ensure your coffee grounds make it to the ground coffee chamber and not everywhere else.
What Is Static Electricity?
It is helpful to know how static electricity works to understand how to solve its issues.
Everything in the world consists of atoms. Meanwhile, atoms consist of three smaller particles: neutral neutrons, negatively charged electrons, and positively charged protons. Usually, the electrons and protons of an atom are balanced.
When the burrs grind beans in your coffee grinder, the friction causes them to pick up a small electric charge, regardless of whether the burrs are metal or ceramic.
Friction gives some loosely bound electrons the energy necessary to leave their atoms and attach to different ones. As a result, opposing charges attract each other, while identical charges rebel against one another. This creates an imbalanced charge between the grinder and the coffee particles, making the grounds fly off indiscriminately, causing a mess.
Here’s an insightful quote that hints as to the solution to the issue:
Humidifying the air helps cut down static electricity. Electrons build up more easily in dry places. On humid days, shocks are less common because a thin layer of water molecules coats most surfaces, which allows electrons to flow more freely and makes almost everything conductive and static-free.The Shocking Truth Behind Static Electricity – https://www.livescience.com/4077-shocking-truth-static-electricity.html
The solution is to add a few drops of water before grinding coffee. This will help reduce static. This not only works for coffee grinders either. For example, you can also use water spray to untangle a static-laden skirt or flatten your head hair.
Four Useful Coffee Grinder Static Hacks
You can use the following techniques on either electric burr grinders or manual grinders with flat, metal, or conical burrs.
1.Ross Droplet Technique (RDT)
This hack takes its name from David Ross, who pioneered it in 2005. The method was shared in the Home Barista Community online forum thread.
It’s incredibly simple, and you’ll only need one piece of equipment: a fine-mist spray bottle.
- Pour some water into the spray bottle.
- Weigh out your beans in a dosing cup.
- Spritz the beans with water from the bottle.
- Shake the beans to ensure the droplets are evenly distributed.
- Place the moist beans in the grinder hopper and start grinding.
You might be nervous about adding any moist item to your grinder, particularly if it’s an electric grinder. Therefore, it’s important only to use a small amount of water. Remember, the mist increases the humidity and reduces the static – you don’t need to soak the beans to achieve this.
Many domestic coffee enthusiasts have used the Ross Droplet Technique for years without encountering any damage or rust to their grinder’s steel burrs.
The technique works well with single-dose grinding. Just ensure you spray all the beans with the water.
One small drawback is that humidity causes a deterioration of the freshness of coffee beans, so we suggest you only use this technique if you intend to consume all the beans you spray in one sitting.
2.Use A Spoon To Reduce Static Electricity
This is even simpler than the Ross Droplet Technique, which doesn’t require a spray bottle. This time, a spoon or chopstick will suffice in a hack that debuted on one of our favorite channels by the coffee geek James Hoffmann.
Here’s what to do:
- Weigh out your beans in a dosing cup or bowl.
- Wet the handle of a spoon, metal fork, or chopstick.
- Stir the beans with the wet spoon handle.
- Grind your beans, you’ll see less static cling in the coffee grounds bin.
An alternative to this hack is to dip your finger in some water and flick it onto the beans.
We’ve tested this hack using beans in the same grinder – 1Zpresso JX Pro hand grinder, and it works beautifully.
3.Wait For A Few Minutes
You may still be concerned that adding any amount of water to your grinder could damage it. In that case, you can grind your beans then wait for a few minutes.
After around five minutes, carefully remove the grounds container from the grinder and tap the lid to remove any particles sticking to the side of the bin.
This will eliminate static for medium grind coffee for regular drip coffee maker or coarse grinds for French press. However, you may need to leave longer than five minutes for finer grinds for espresso.
4.Grind Into A Metal Container
Conductors, including metals, usually have loosely bound electrons that easily flow between molecules. In addition, the electric charges are perfectly harmonized, which causes less static.
However, insulators like rubber, glass, and plastic have tightly bound electrons. These electrons don’t flow easily to other atoms. Therefore, static is more likely when one of the materials you’re using is an insulator.
Because of this, grinders with metal grounds bin will generate less static, making it easier to transfer the grounds. The Niche Zero has a stainless steel dosing cup. In contrast, the DF64 uses a plastic cup. Therefore, on dry days, the latter will be much messier.
We recommend using the Ross Droplet Technique for minimizing static buildup in a burr grinder. However, if you don’t have a fine-spray bottle, using a spoon, fork, or chopstick is fine too.
Whichever method you use, they offer extremely easy ways to solve the potentially frustrating issue of static build-up. Of course, that leaves you to concentrate on the most important thing – making great specialty coffee without the mess of flying – or clinging – grounds!