An espresso machine is the perfect investment for any coffee loving fanatic. A machine that is kept pristine will last longer and deliver better results in the future. With each pull of delectable espresso or steaming of delightful frothy milk, your espresso machine accumulates a layer of mineral-deposits and milk-proteins, making it imperative to clean your machine after every use.
The following pointers are provided as a rough guide, and depend heavily on the make and model of your particular espresso machine. You should always refer to any manufacturer documentation for clarity. So without further ado; Here is how to properly clean your espresso machine daily.
Cleaning The Portafilter And Basket
The easiest place to start is with the portafilter and portafilter basket. The portafilter is equipped with a handle, and attached with a removable portable filter that you insert into the group (the showerhead responsible for releasing hot water for the espresso grounds). The portafilter basket (basket for short), is a metal screen filter that’s placed within the portafilter.
- Begin by removing the basket from the portafilter. The basket is easily dislodged with the help of a spoon.
- Using a nylon brush, scrub any excess grounds from the portafilter and basket.
- Rinse the basket and portafilter with hot water. Running it under the hot water from the machine will make rinsing easier. Be careful though, as water from espresso machines usually exceeds temperatures of 150 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cleaning The Group Gasket
The gasket, or group gasket, is a rubber-O ring responsible for providing a seal between the group and the portafilter. Over time the gasket may become brittle. If you notice your portafilter is leaking water, it's most likely time for a new gasket.
- Insert a nylon brush into the group to clean the gasket.
- Move the brush around the edges to dislodge material from the gasket.
- Run water through the group to rinse away any remaining material.
Washing The Screen
The screen, or group screen, covers the filter chamber. It prevents grounds and oils from clogging the head. If neglected debris can build up in the area behind the screen.
- Look at the underside of the group and locate a screw. (The exact location of the screw may vary).
- Loosen the screw with a short screwdriver to remove the screen from the group.
- Use a nylon brush or scrubby pad to remove debris from each side of the screen. While the screen is out, scrub the interior of the group.
- Screw the screen back in place.
Backwash The Espresso Machine
Before you backwash your machine, read the user’s manual to determine if this cleaning process is recommended by the manufacturer. If so, back wash your machine regularly. If you use your machine daily, once a month will be sufficient. Make sure your water tank is full before you start.
- Insert a blind disk (which is a solid filter plate, that prevents water from running through the portafilter) into the portafilter.
- Lock the portafilter into the group.
- Turn on the group and allow it to run for approximately 10-15 seconds.
- Remove the portafilter, empty the water, and repeat the process with a cleaning agent suitable for your espresso machine.
- Repeat several times, and again with fresh water to ensure that all the detergent has been washed out. This removes any coffee oils and grounds that have built up over time.
Sanitizing The Steam Wand
When left unwashed, milk-proteins will build up on your steam wand/arm. Overtime, the residue will affect the taste of your concoctions and potentially clog the steam wand. To prevent this from occurring, purge your steam wand before and after use. Keep the steam wand clean by wiping it with a damp cloth. Doing so immediately after every use will help prevent any potential calcification, and stop milk from burning and sticking.
- Place a clean, damp rag over the steam wand’s nozzle.
- Turn on the steam wand for three seconds to flush out water and milk proteins.
Making espresso can be a messy process. After you’re done pulling shots and frothing milk for the day, be sure to wipe down the machine with a damp rag.
- Fill the reservoir with fresh, clean water and flush the machine.
- Run the clean water through the steam wand and portafilter.
- Run a second reservoir of fresh water through the machine if desired.
- If your espresso machine is super-automatic, flush all of the fresh water through the steam wand.
And there you have it! Performing even some of these tasks will increase the longevity of your espresso machine and keep the perfect cup of espresso in your hands for years to come.