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Is there a way to reduce/eliminate the static buildup in a burr grinder? I've tried a few different coffee grinders and inevitably on removing the grinds bin, I get a spray of coffee all over the counter.

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I'm not sure if this is off-topic or not. But I figured I'd give it a shot and find out. –  Eclipse Sep 18 '10 at 2:21
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I think it is a great question. Drives me batty. I had to go back to a regular blade-type grinder because the static causes such a mess. –  Michael at Herbivoracious Sep 18 '10 at 2:24
    
Agreed. We have a burr grinder with the same issue. –  Jenn Sep 20 '10 at 0:29
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Just a thought, stop into your local coffee shop and ask them if they experience the same issue. –  Chris Sep 21 '10 at 12:49
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14 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

My grounds bin has a lid. So while the grounds still collect static, they don't fly all over the place when I remove the bin from the grinder.

Giving the bin few sharp taps on the counter top prior to opening seems to shake off most of what clings to the top and sides. Then I tap out the grounds, wipe out the bin with a napkin, and I'm ready for the next morning.

Beyond that, try switching up your coffee. The cheap "8 O'Clock" stuff I keep on reserve is terribly staticy, while the beans I roast myself don't have nearly the trouble. I tend to enjoy a lighter roast, so keep that in mind - you might benefit from grinding beans with just a bit higher moisture content (of course, if you have a strong preference for dark roasts, this doesn't help much).

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+1 for the beans you roast yourself. –  Chris Sep 21 '10 at 12:49
    
Interestingly, I found the freshly roasted beans to be the problem. Maybe if I roasted them myself, the issue would also resolve itself, but that's beyond what I'm able to put into it. And I think our low temperatures and humidity cause an issue with locally roasted coffee. –  Eclipse Oct 28 '10 at 18:48
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Well, recently my coffee guy went on holidays for a few weeks, leaving me to go to elsewhere (I gave Kicking Horse Coffee a shot). Interestingly enough, the static issues completely went away. So Knives was definitely on to something in trying different beans. I had tried several different roasts from my local roaster, and they all had the same static issue. I realized that maybe in our dry, cold climate, the freshly roasted beans hadn't had time to reabsorb any moisture from the environment, whereas the beans roasted in a warmer, moist climate would have a decent amount of moisture in the air they are being packed with. So I tried sprinkling about 2 drops of water into the beans bag and shaking it all up. The next day, and for the rest of that 1/2 pound, I've had no static issues at all.

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Tough problem.

Static won't persist forever, so waiting a few minutes before opening the drawer may help. Especially in a moderately to highly humidity environment (really dry air is a better insulator than moist air). Of course, you probably don't want to grind your coffee in a sauna, so that doesn't help much.

The static charge may be being produced at the grinding surface. If this is the case and one or more of the grinding surfaces is conducting you could try grounding those parts.

The charge could also be produced as the ground coffee rubs against other materials between the grinding surface and the catch box. In that case you're not going to have a lot of luck stopping it. A conductive basin could be grounded which will help some.

/don't own a burr grinder so this is largely speculative.

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Unfortunately, we have to fight to keep the interior humidity here to above 30% for 8 months of the year, so static doesn't easily dissipate. –  Eclipse Sep 19 '10 at 4:22
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A dark roasted coffee such as a French Roast has a dryer interior (the inside of the bean) so it is more susceptible to static. It has nothing to do with the quality of the coffee. A lighter roasted coffee is heavier and has a higher moister content.

I own 9 coffee shops and have ground many types of coffee, the only coffee that gives me static problems is my French Roast. Sorry to say I have not solved the problem and it is very messy.

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We have the same problem too...I haven't found a total solution, but I have found that spraying the inside of the grinder cup with a fine mist of water before grinding seems to help. I just keep a small spray bottle filled with water near the coffee equipment.

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Do you find a corresponding difficulty in clean-up, or stale left-behind coffee grounds? Also, moisture is typically something to be avoided with respect to processing coffee up until the point of extraction as it typically causes the beans to loose "freshness" faster, does exposure to humidity from the time of grind to filter make a difference in your experience? –  mfg Feb 29 '12 at 16:58
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As a new coffee lover, I recently got a middle of the line burr grinder which had a very clear line of complainers about 'static' in nearly all the reviews. I was not deterred because numerous people had found workarounds.

I have been beating my face on the counter trying to find my own work around, and just got one nailed down, I think. I have been doing the following for a week now...

The coffee ground receptacle is plastic and not very tall, maybe 4 inches. I pull a strip of aluminum foil about .5 inches shorter than the bin and the entire length of the roll. I coil it into a spiral, with plenty of room under where the grounds tumble into the bin. Boom, static gone! I keep the little spiral in there for a few days at a time, replacing it before I notice any problems with static.

And this little jerk (Capresso burr grinder) would detonate coffee grounds all over my counter if I found myself in a hurry and not paying attention in the a.m.

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Pure speculation here: look inside the well where the grounds-catching cup/box goes. If there is any exposed metal in there it might be grounded, so lining the cup with aluminum foil (maybe just partly would work) with a flap that continues outside the cup that could fold down over the outer wall and touch the metal, might have a chance of grounding it out and dissipating the static charge.

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The problem here is that if the cup body is a dielectric (wood, plastic, glass...) it can hold a charge on the inside even if you ground the outside. Lining with aluminum foil wight do the trick if you can ground the foil. –  dmckee Sep 18 '10 at 18:25
    
I had some success in putting a piece of aluminum foil partially in the basket and have half of it hanging out. After the grind was done, I grounded the foil with the faucet, and most of the grind jumped off the plastic basket surface, but the foil itself continued to attract grinds... which doesn't make sense to me. –  Eclipse Sep 19 '10 at 4:24
    
You're right @dmckee, if it doesn't ground anywhere it won't help. Even if there is metal in the cup well, if it isn't grounded, no good. –  Jay Sep 19 '10 at 20:02
    
@Eclipse: The phrase you want is "induced charge". The static charge on the grounds in the basket affects the grounded equilibrium of the strip, leading to a residual electro-static force. Now I'm wonder if that could be made into an effective classroom demonstration somehow... –  dmckee Sep 19 '10 at 20:44
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A far simpler solution is to steam the beans for a few seconds before grinding. This brings a little oil to the surface and completely eliminates static, even with beans from the freezer (I store my beans frozen to keep them fresh). I put them in a small wire mesh basket to steam them for about 5-10 secs. It may make them clump a bit in the grinder hopper, especially if you get them too oily, but that doesn't hurt and it's far easier to nudge them in the hopper than it is to deal with static.

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Unfortunately, I only have steam handy when I'm making espresso. The rest of the time it's more work to get steam than it is to clean up a bit of mess. –  Eclipse Mar 3 '11 at 20:42
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We completely fixed this ANNOYING problem by moving the coffee grinder away from the electrical outlet into which it was plugged when we grind the coffee and empty the well. When not in use, the coffee grinder is against the wall near the outlet. We move it to the front of the counter, away from the wall, before we load it with beans, grind them and empty them into the coffee press or espresso maker, the only 2 methods of brewing coffee in our house. We discovered this by accident and have not had a single encounter with the static problem since.

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Are you unplugging it too? Or just moving it while still plugged in? –  Eclipse Jan 25 '12 at 15:09
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Grind your beans the night before and let the coffee sit there til morning. No static!

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Wouldn't it have as a counterpart that the coffee's oils will get rancid? (and therefore taste worse) –  J.A.I.L. Dec 14 '12 at 7:17
    
I don't think it'd be any worse than pre-ground coffee, but it might lose some of what you get from fresh ground beans. –  Eclipse Dec 14 '12 at 14:29
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This has annoyed me for years, and I knew that is was only a problem with the darker roasts which had been dried out more in the roasting process. Just put a few drops of water into the grinder along with the beans, and that does it. I just put my fingers under cold water for a second, and then drip a few drops in the grinder. Done. So easy, I kick myself for not doing it sooner.

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The static charge may be being produced at the grinding surface. I think maybe the grinding speed become lower, the less static charge is produced. the burr grinder(espcially conical burr grinder) always works under a very low speed.

Also, everytime before grinding, it is better to use a sharp goods to touch the millstone to leak the static on it.

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we just bought a new grinder and have the same static problem when we open the lid of the container. What it worked great for us is wiping outside the container, after ground, with one of those Bounce sheet. (the same we used in our dryer) and the problem was gone.

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Did the dryer sheet do anything to the coffee? Off flavors, weird mouthfeel, etc? –  sourd'oh Oct 12 '13 at 17:49
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I am an avid at home coffee grinder, I just periodically wash and then wax my container inside and out [the lid too], let it set for a while and then wipe it shiny clean, it helps tremendously with static, just depends on what type of wax you use on how long it last. And I don't worry about toxic effects, I have been doing this for a long time and I am fine, I just make sure I wipe it really good, just like you would your car!

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