Bitterant in compressed air cleaners

Grinders are one of the keys to exceptional espresso. Discuss them here.
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Postby shawndo » Wed Mar 21, 2012 9:53 pm

Every couple weeks I do a full disassembly and brush/qtip cleaning of my grinder. Usually when I run out of beans and it's time to start a new bag.
After reassembly, I like to top off the cleaning with some compressed air in the intake, just to catch any stray bits that I missed.
I ran out of compressed air about a month ago and never got around to buying another can.

I have also been trying different dose/grind/etc settings to try and reduce some unpleasant bitterness. I thought my machine was scaled, grinder belt loosening, etc.
I also lowered my extraction ratio from 100% -> 65% and started stirring my espresso. This seemed to finally do the trick and my espresso is pretty rockin' right now.

Today I looked for some amazon-prime compressed air, and all of them have complaints about "bitterants" Apparently, they have been adding a bitter flavoring chemical to compressed air cans in order to prevent illicit use and also leaves a bitter residue on whatever it's used on!

After slapping my forehead I started typing this post. Hopefully I'm not the only one with a red forehead! (I didn't find anyone using the word "bitterant" before on this forum)
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Postby Randy G. » Wed Mar 21, 2012 10:17 pm

I have never used the canned air on my coffee gear, but I have on the computer. My home environment is quite dusty (the price I pay for living in the woods and having two German Shepherds going in and out of the house with me many times each day). The computer is in a sort of corner area, and I have experienced that added ingredient that makes the air quite ,, well.. bitter for lack of another name. It is hard to imagine that anyone would enjoy the high from an inhalant ("huffing"). The bitterant they use would seemingly just make them move on to spray paint and toluene. If you are going to do brain damage, do it right.
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Postby cafeIKE » Wed Mar 21, 2012 10:57 pm

This is the advice old timers follow regarding cleaning with compressed air:


from Keep Your Lathe Clean, August 1946 revision.

Vacuuming is preferred because damage may be done if fine dust is blown into machine bearings. Vacuuming also minimizes the amount of airborne dust, which is better for our lungs. Brushing may be an acceptable alternative, but brushes can't always get into the hard-to-reach places.

Grinder cleaning, like tamping, is grossly over rated :wink:

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Postby yakster » Thu Mar 22, 2012 1:23 am

I think the best thing for your grinder is regular use and avoidance of flavored beans.

I do appreciate the tip regarding bitterants in compressed air cleaners.

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Postby jbviau » Thu Mar 22, 2012 2:12 am

Thanks for the warning! I'd just gotten a can at Staples for occasional use in cleaning hard-to-reach areas inside my LIDO's hopper. Sure enough, there's a "contains a bitterant" warning on the label.
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Postby voodoodaddy » Thu Mar 22, 2012 2:48 am

This is what I use and it contains no bitterant.

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Postby cannonfodder » Fri Mar 23, 2012 4:15 pm

I checked my can of air, not addatives.

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Postby allon » Fri Mar 23, 2012 5:21 pm

Except for the bits of compressor oil...

Unless you've got some nice filters....
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