Born in Koprivshtitsa, he studied in Plovdiv Greek School. Later he taught in the Class School of his native town of Koprivshtitsa, succeeding his teacher, Nayden Gerov on that position (1848-56).
Since 1856, he had lived permanently in Plovdiv, where he took on the management of the Diocese (the Central) Class School St.St.Cyril and Methodius, widely known as the Nayden Gerovs School. Alongside with Gerov, Yoakim Gruev is one of the initiators for celebrating May 11th as the common Day of Bulgarian Education. He was also the principle of the Girls High School for some time.
In the period 1868-70 he was assistant to the plovdiv regional Manager. He actively participated in the fights for church and national independence. During the 1876 April Uprising, Gruev was sent to prison.
After the Liberation of Bulgaria in 1878, Yoakim Gruev was Director of the Education Department of East Roumelia (1879-84), a votable member-councilor of the Supreme Administrative Court, Chairman of the Court Council and of the Commercial Court in Plovdiv.
During the Unification in 1885, Yoakim Gruev was a Deputy Commisioner of the Knjaz in the Plovdiv Region. Author and publisher of textbooks in Grammar, History, Geography, Logics. Poet, writer and publicist. Education figure, member of the Bulgarian Literature Society, 1884 (later the BG Academy of sciences). He was the initiator of founding the Plovdiv regional library and museum in 1882 (todays Ivan Vazov National Library) and its director for some time.
He was buried in his beloved Plovdiv, in the churchyard of the St. Holy Virgin cathedral church in the foot of the Old Town.