The purpose of cleaning the burrs is to clean the burrs. Cleaning retained grinds is a different thing. Let's start with cleaning the burrs. I. Cleaning the Burrs:
Grinds and oils stick to the burrs and may become rancid if not removed. Clean the burrs when you notice an off taste or at least once a month as prophylactic maintenance. A. Cleaning with Instant Rice or Grindz
There's no need to remove the hopper for cleaning with a cleaning material. Simply empty the hopper and reserve the beans so you can replace them after cleaning.
Set the grinder to the equivalent of a very coarse espresso or very fine drip grind. Then load the cleaning material -- either INSTANT RICE (do not use raw rice or par-boiled rice) or GRINDZ into the hopper. The amount of cleaning material you need to clean the burrs depends on the size of the grinder. In the case of a Vario, an ounce should be enough.
Run the grinder until all of the cleaning material has been ground and you can hear the burrs "running on empty."
After cleaning the burrs in this way, you'll need to "re-season" them and remove any cleaner caught between them or in the path by running an ounce or so of inexpensive beans through the grinder.
Clean the interior of the hopper with a damp towel. Wash out your grinds container if you have one. Clean the exterior of the grinder as completely as you can.
When everything is clean and dry, you'll need to dial-in your good beans as though from scratch. B. Cleaning by Brushing and/or Washing
Every six months or so, it's a good idea to remove the burrs; inspect them to make sure they're still sharp and in good shape; and clean them by brushing and/or washing.
Of course, you'll have to empty and remove the hopper, first.
If you wash, make sure the burrs are thoroughly dry before reassembly. It's a good idea to air-dry on a rack overnight.
When you reassemble the grinder, you'll have to re-zero (aka re-calibrate) the grinder. Then you'll need to re-season and dial-in again. II. Cleaning Out Retained Grounds:
I don't know about zero retention, but your Vario is definitely at the low end of the scale. However even so-called "zero retention" grinders retain at least a few grounds and you might as well tweak your regimen to get rid of them.
Brush the chute before grinding, and brush it at the end of every session.
Any time the grinder's sat idle for more than an hour or so, it's a good idea to blow out the chamber and chute by grinding an appropriate amount of beans. For your Vario and my Bunnzilla, that's a very low dose -- about 5g. In the case of other grinders, my Ceado for instance, it's more like 10g -20g. III. Trouble Shooting:
The more you get used to drinking good espresso, the more sensitive your palate will become to bad espresso, and the better able you'll be to identify flaws. When you detect stale, "off" or "harsh" tastes, it's a good idea to start by cleaning to get rid of any possible contaminants in the grinder, the pf, or the head.
- For one thing, it's effective surprisingly often;
- For another, it's quick, easy and more or less free; and
- For a third, you have to do it anyway. So what can you lose?
Hope this helps,
Drop a nickel in the pot Joe. Takin' it slow. Waiter, waiter, percolator