Most of the time when we speak to aspiring home baristas, the following three questions are the likeliest:
- What espresso machine should I buy?
- What grinder is the best?
- How easy is it to maintain a home espresso machine and how much does it cost?
Since we have answered the previous two, we will dive into the third. Properly caring for an espresso machine, the caliber of which we sell at Clive, is pretty easy. The key words: Preventative Maintenance. It involves the following:
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 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.
We recommend a quick water backflush every day you use your machine. 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.
Time: 10 seconds. Cost: $0
Every 6 Weeks
Full clean time. For this interval, you will remove the dispersion screen, and soak both that and your portafilter basket in a solution of Cafiza or Full Circle Cleaner. Scrub your group with a brush and do a full detergent backflush. Full instructions for doing so can be found here.
Time: 5 minutes. Cost: $0.60
Every 6 months
Every six months, in addition to a full clean, 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 softening system and replace, if necessary.
Time: 5 minutes. Cost: $60
Every one year
Time: 30 seconds. Cost: $15.95
TOTAL Annual maintenance costs
Time: About 6 hours. Cost: $142
$112 of this is to keep water soft, so if you have soft water, the annual cost drops to only $30.
Depending on the machine, there may be replacement parts that are necessary during the first 5 years of ownership, which would vary based on the amount of use and level of care in the above. All of these items can be replaced with a low-to-moderate level of comfort using basic tools. Costs for these items usually range from $100 to $200, and we would estimate that only one would need to be replaced, on average, in the first five years ownership.
Time: 2 hours. Cost $200