Espresso Machine Cleaning & Maintenance
Espresso machines seem like complex, high-end equipment...and, well, they are. Luckily though, they’re very easy to keep clean. After pulling a shot or steaming milk, there will be residual coffee grounds and milk buildup. After time, the buildup will affect the quality of your coffee, and more importantly, can damage your machine. We have seen countless machines come in for maintenance with a lot of grime. This is damaging to your machine but is also affecting your drink quality. We want you to have great, clean-tasting coffee every morning, and a machine that lasts a very long time. So we’re going to walk you through some quick and simple tasks to help you keep your machine clean and in tip-top shape.
Water and Your Espresso Machine
The single biggest issue we see in the tech department of Clive Coffee is scale buildup due to poor water quality. It will substantially shorten the life of the machine and cause costly repairs.
Nip this potential in the bud by using only filtered, softened water. It is shockingly easy to do. First, always test your water. You may believe that because you have a whole home softening system that you are in the clear. That is not always the case. Total water hardness should be between 35-85 ppm.
For both plumbed-in and reservoir machines, we recommend this water softening and filtration system. Either install it in-line with your machine or under the sink to fill a pitcher of water. For $160 it is life-long insurance against the single biggest cause of failure. Convinced that water is an important component? Dive deeper with The Importance of Water and Your Machine.
Purging the Group Head
After you grind, tamp, and extract your espresso, it is important to immediately flush, or purge the group head. You can do this by simply taking your portafilter out as soon as you can after pulling your shot and wiping it clean. Then proceed to purge the group head for about 1-3 seconds to ensure all coffee grounds and oils are being flushed out of the screen. If you let the espresso grounds sit up in the group head, it will cause buildup. Even if your screen appears to be clean on the outside, the inside could look very different, which can be detrimental.
Purging the Steam Wand
Steam wand purging is also very important as milk buildup can cause damage and affect flavor as well. You want to make sure to purge your steam wand both before and after you steam your milk. You can do this by simply placing a rag over the end of the steam wand and turning it on for 1-2 seconds prior to steaming your milk. This ensures you aren’t getting any residual water from the steam wand into your milk. After you have steamed your milk, be sure to immediately wipe the steam wand clean and then purge again for an additional 1-2 seconds. This is done best with a damp rag.
Another option to add to your daily routine is a quick water backflush. In our offices, we keep the single or double spouted portafilter loaded with a backflush blank at all times. Once we are done for the morning, a quick flush and wipe down of the dispersion screen. I am particularly OCD, so that also means wiping the rest of the machine as well - but not necessary.
Every 2-4 Weeks
Full clean time. For this interval, you will remove the dispersion screen, and soak both the screen and your portafilter basket in a solution of Cafiza or Biocaf Cleaner. Scrub your group with a brush and do a full detergent backflush.
Every 6 months
Every six months it is important to clean your grinder and your steam wand (if you use it). Two products make this extraordinarily easy: Rinza and Grindz. You can do both without these products, but it does make it easy and quick. Simply soak your wand in Rinza and run a small amount of Grindz through your grinder. It is also the right time to check the filter on your water softening system and if necessary, replace.
Once a Year
At the year mark, it is a good idea to replace your group gasket and screen. It is a simple way to keep your espresso pulling well deep into your ownership.
Espresso Equipment Maintenance Reminders
If you buy an espresso machine from us, you will automatically be enrolled in our maintenance and cleaning email reminders. However, if you didn't, we'll still let you subscribe. Just promise us your next purchase will be with Clive.