4 Reasons Why Oily Coffee Beans Bad For Grinders


There are many different opinions about oily beans regarding their nature and origin. All coffee beans contain oil which is solid until you roast the coffee cherry. The cherries then become coffee beans. If you roast the beans for too long, then the oils begin to seep out.

Oily beans can clog up your grinder and ruin your espresso machine, causing the grounds to stick together, becoming clay-like. Coffee experts recommend using a burr grinder to grind excessively oily beans instead of using automatic coffee machines. Burr grinders come apart quickly and are more convenient to clean.

If you have been using oily beans in your automatic coffee machine, you need to stop now. This article hopes to explore why oily beans are oily, the best way to use oily beans, and what to do if you have been using oily beans.

Are Oily Coffee Beans Bad?

There is a bit of discord amongst coffee experts as to whether oily beans are good or bad. They certainly clog up your grinder and compromise your coffee machine’s condition.

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It’s essential to understand the roasting process before deciding if oily beans are good or bad.

All coffee beans are green initially; roasting changes their color, and much depends on the roasting duration and the temperature. As coffee beans roast, they start to seep oil.

The darker the roast, the more oil the beans will have on their exterior. Very dark roasts will be excessively oily and appear greasy.

Any leftover oil on the beans’ surface will stick to your grinder and other components of your machine – this is when you run into maintenance issues.

These oils will inevitably affect how your machine operates. The very dark roasts will taste bitter and burnt, and as the oils go bad, they will leave behind a rancid build-up.

Some people think that oily coffee beans are a sign of overly-roasted and low-quality coffee beans and that it’s possible to produce a non-oily dark roast.

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At the same time, others think that darker roasted beans will naturally be oily due to prolonged heating.

The science behind roasting states that more heat will lead to gases and oils seeping out of the bean and react with oxygen.

Oily beans aren’t necessarily stale; however, lighter roasts that are non-oily stay fresher than dark roasts. Dark roasted beans without oil are stale, as they have lost their oils over time.

Oily beans will produce a more bitter, acidic, and quintessential “coffee” flavor. You can get the best out of oily roasts by:

1. Grinding your beans more finely so that the water interacts with the coffee to extract more flavors.

2. Add twice the amount of coffee to the usual amount of water to produce a more robust coffee.

3. Brew your coffee for longer than the recommended time (for example, 6 minutes for French press rather than 4) to produce a more intense coffee.

Will Oily Beans Clog Grinder?

Oily beans are greasy and leave residue on all your machine’s parts, including the grinder. Residual burnt oil from the bottom of a frying pan can be hard to clean and undoubtedly affect your food’s flavor.

It’s the same with your espresso machine. Continual use of oily beans will result in residual oil becoming gummy and clinging to your coffee machine’s components.

Consider the issues that will occur if you frequently use oily coffee beans in your machine:

1. The hoppers will become sticky, which will impede the flow of coffee beans in the grinder.

2. The machine grinders will become clogged, making the coffee grounds stick together, becoming more like clay.

3. Portafilters, pots, and brew unit screens will become clogged up, and the machine will struggle to make the coffee flow readily.

4. Additionally, the coffee will not only taste burnt from the over-roasted beans, but the machine’s parts will become rancid over time. Rancid oil will produce a nasty tasting coffee and undoubtedly leave an unpleasant aftertaste.

Using oily beans in an automatic espresso machine is not a good idea, as the oils ruin the grinder and brewing system. Your machine’s pipes, gears, and other components will become so clogged up that it will inevitably stop working.

If you really can’t do without dark roasts, grind your oily beans separately using a Burr grinder whereby you can open up for easy cleaning.

How Do You Remove Oil From Coffee Beans?

You must use a vacuum to remove the beans from the bean hopper. If you have been using overly oily beans in your espresso machine for a long time, you may need to employ the services of a professional to clean and service the machine.

You must determine exactly which parts have been compromised and replace them with new components.

You should never use oily coffee beans in your espresso machine. However, you can grind them separately using a Burr grinder.

Burr grinders are very straightforward, and cleaning them isn’t too time-consuming. Consider the following steps regarding cleaning your Burr grinder:

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You will need the following cleaning supplies:

  • A soft brush
  • Wood toothpicks
  • Cotton swabs
  • A screwdriver (possibly)
  • Spare coffee beans for seasoning your grinder
  • Grinder cleaning tablets

STEP 1. Unplug your grinder and remove the parts that come off. Generally, you would remove the hopper, upper grinding casing, etc., to allow you to access the crevices and corners to remove the coffee dust and other debris.

STEP 2. Turn your grinder upside down into a container and hit the sides a few times. This action will result in the coffee grinds flying out of your grinder.

STEP 3. Use the soft brush to clean out all the coffee grounds and debris clinging to the inside of the unit. You may need to use cotton swabs and wooden toothpicks to remove as much of the old grinds as possible.

STEP 4. Check the feeder channel – the chute that guides the coffee grinds into the grind drawer. The cotton swab will be ideal as you can use the swab to wipe clean the sides of the channel. Bend the swab’s stalk to get into tight places.

STEP 5. Wipe down the plastic components that you have removed using your soft brush to flick away any dust. You may use some soapy water, too, as long as you don’t leave any residue in the parts.

Dry them thoroughly before you put the Burr back together. The metal parts especially need to be dry. Don’t spray water into the grinder; always use the brush to dig out any grounds and wipe away oils from inside the grinder.

STEP 6. To do a deep clean of the Burr, take a brush or toothpick to clean out all of the coffee grounds and dust the screws, teeth, and other accessible spots if you can remove the upper Burr to access the nooks and crannies to wipe them, all the better. Then, do the same with the lower Burr.

Apply the hose attachment of your vacuum cleaner to suck up any tiny particles, ensuring that you don’t hoover up important pieces like screws.

STEP 7. Wipe down the hopper and grind the drawer to ensure you don’t get any greasy build-up. Certain parts might be dishwasher safe.

STEP 8. To go that bit further, grind some coffee beans after cleaning the grinder to season and prepare the device to work again.

Grind a handful of beans you use every day to check that the adjustment settings are correct and everything is in its rightful place.

If you wonder how often you should clean your Burr grinder, it’s relative, but for most people, once a week will suffice. You can do a deeper clean every few weeks to keep your Burr in good working order.

While okay to grind oily beans in a Burr grinder, a super-automatic coffee machine is another story. The greasy build-up will undoubtedly ruin the unit.

It’s essential to service your espresso machine if you have used oily beans for a long time, identify the damaged parts, and have them replaced. There are many affordable good quality beans that you can use and won’t gum up your machine.

Final Thoughts

There is no mistaking the appearance of oily coffee beans; they shine and feel greasy in your hands. If you wish to use less oily beans, you need to use light and medium roasted coffee.

Using oily coffee beans in your espresso machine is a massive no-no as it will clog up the grinder and various other parts of your appliance.

Many coffee lovers would dismiss dark roast coffee, finding it not to be of great quality. However, roasting is not the be-all to end-all; you can control the amount of coffee, the grind size, and the brewing duration to ensure a great cup of java.

Many popular coffee houses serve dark roast oily beans, and it has defined the quintessential coffee flavor for a long time. However, if you decide to stick to dark roast beans, be sure to grind them separately and purchase good-quality beans.

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