Espresso Machine Cleaning & Maintenance

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.

Daily Maintenance

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.

Water Backflushing

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. 


  • @moez Sounds like you might have a Breville machine – I’d reach out to them directly, they will be able to help you with some more specific troubleshooting!

    August with Clive Coffee on

  • dear my machine show message errore code ER15 WHAT means please

    moez on

  • @Ezra: The boiler should be up in that green zone within 10-15 minutes of turning on the machine. It is worth noting that it will take a bit longer for the large group head to come up to temperature – usually around 25-30 minutes.

    Charles with Clive Coffee on

  • Question
    Re. Profitec 800
    How long does it take for the steam/boiler pressure gage to reach the ‘green’ zone’ after the machine is turned on ?

    Ezra tita on

  • @Kenny Mueller: Absolutely! The vast majority of our customers pull two to four shots a day on their machines and this is meant specifically for that level of use.

    Charles with Clive Coffee on

  • I just bought a Linea Mini from you guys and love it!!! My question is that on average I pulled 2 to 4 shots per day. Are the cleaning intervals mentioned above going to be the same for my level of use?

    Kenny Mueller on

  • @Ron Davis: I’ve passed this on to our customer service team. They’ll be reaching out to you by email!

    Charles with Clive Coffee on

  • My espresso coffee maker won’t draw water from reservoir to the coffee basket.

    Ron Davis on

  • @Steve Pitt: Our manufacturers are generally making their maintenance recommendations based on commercial use (even for non-commercial machines) because that’s where the majority of their expertise is. Descaling is kind of like using a flamethrower to get a rat’s nest out from under your house. It’s not an ideal solution, but if things get out of hand it’s worth the immediate damage to avoid even worse damage. Our recommendations are entirely based around avoiding the scale buildup in the first place because descaling, by necessity, is strong enough to eat away at the metal inside your machine and can even leave metal scraps in your tubing. If we can avoid that (which we can) then we don’t have to pull out the flamethrower. This is MUCH more difficult in commercial use where you have untold gallons of water coursing through the machine each day. Even with soft water, this makes serious scale buildup an inevitability.

    Charles with Clive Coffee on

  • Regarding your comment to Stephen Hoff, I read that ECM recommends descaling in their Classika Product Manual. Quote: “A regular descaling of the machine is recommended in order to avoid calcification and expensive repairs.” This is followed by detailed instructions for that descaling. I own an ECM Casa V and I see these same instructions in my Product Manual. ECM is saying there may be damage if you don’t descale but Clive Coffee says there may be damage if you do descale. Very confusing!?

    I also see that ECM also has their own brand of descaler.

    Steve Pitt on

  • @Stephen: What with that TDS reading is essentially ideal for the wellbeing of your espresso machine, so you’ll likely never get scale buildup in your machine. Descaling is actually quite harmful to the internals of an espresso machine, so avoiding it by using soft water is the way to go!

    Charles on

  • What are your thoughts on descaling? I make my own water to about 55ppm (starting with distilled water adding epson salts and baking soda). The machine that I have is an ECM Classika. I run roughly a pound of coffee every two weeks or so. Should I descale, and if so, how often and is there a preferred method to follow?


    Stephen Hoff on

  • Response to Lori: Hi Lori! We recommend using the Ratio Coffee Maker Wash with a Chemex brush – both available on our site. And if you need a new carafe we have those as well!

    Dani on

  • Hello,

    I own a ratio coffee maker and the glass carafe is hard to clean. What do you recommend? Is there a special brush you use to scrub with as well? ours now has a crack from using our brush to keep it clean.

    Thank you for your help,

    Lori on

  • Just bought mine. Can’t wait to pick it up in two weeks.

    Jay S on

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