Get out your gloves and clear the bench, because we’re about to clean your espresso machine until it gleams!
The amount of cleaning required to keep an espresso machine running smoothly and producing great tasting shots can come as an unpleasant surprise. However, there are a number of techniques you can employ to create an easy cleaning routine that’s completed in minutes. Here’s a step-by-step cleaning regime that will keep your machine sparkling, inside and out!
Your espresso machine is like any other piece of equipment. Look after it and service it correctly and it will run smoothly for much longer. If you abuse it, don’t be surprised if it emits some pained squeals!
Step 1 — Use Good Quality Water
The first rule of a good defence is to have a good offense. Using filtered water in your espresso machine is essential. Australia’s water supply contains a large amount of ground water (particularly in WA and SA) which will give your coffee a ‘unique’ flavour. Personally, I’m not a big fan of the ‘chlorinated’ cup profile! The minerals in the water can also wreak havoc on your espresso machine. Filtered water will help to keep your espresso machine free of blockages, calcium build up and corrosion. If using filtered water is a little pricy, a small water filtering jug like those made by Brita is a great alternative.
Step 2 — Routine Preventative Cleaning
If you incorporate a couple of small cleaning steps into your coffee-making routine, you’ll find that your machine will hardly get dirty.
- Flush water from the group in between each coffee
- Keep the spouts of the portafilter off the bench (out of the grinds)
- Use a damp cloth to wipe the steam wand directly after use
- Purge the steam wand directly after use to remove any milk which may be in the wand
Total Time Required: ~20 seconds
Step 3 — Clean your Grinder
- Daily: Dose out any coffee left in the grinds chamber
- Daily: Use a grinder brush or a paint or pastry brush to clean out the dosing chamber or dispensing chute
- Twice weekly: Wipe out the bean hopper with a damp cloth to remove built up oils
- Monthly: Occasionally wipe the inside of the dosing chamber walls with a slightly damp cloth to remove build up.
Total Time Required: ~1 minute
Step 4 — Cleaning the Grouphead
Ideally, you should do this after each coffee making session:
- Flush a little water from the group to get rid of superficial grinds
- If your espresso machine has a 3-way Solenoid valve do the following, otherwise skip to the next point:
- Put your blind basket (a basket with no holes) into the portafilter.
- Place around 1/4 teaspoon of Espresso Machine Backflush Cleanner into the blind basket.
- Lock in the blind basket as normal and run water through the group for around 5 to 10 seconds.
- Stop the water flow and then repeat the process three or four times, pulsing water through the group for 5 to 10 seconds each time.
- Remove the portafilter and rinse the basket out with water from the group until it is running clear of detergent.
- Lock the portafilter in again and proceed with another 5 pulses, 5 seconds each, with clear water to remove any detergent residue.
- Using a Pallo Coffeetool, gently scrub the shower screen and surrounding gasket to remove loose grinds.
- With a damp cloth, wipe the entire group surface and then fold the cloth to create a tight corner. Insert the corner into the gasket recess and wipe around to remove both grinds and built up oils.
Your group is now clean! If your machine allows it, you may want to remove the shower or dispersion screen from the group head occasionally, as it will enable you to clean any fine grinds from inside this component, and scrub down the solid metal group directly.
Total Time Required: ~1 minute 30 seconds
Step 5 — Cleaning the Portafilter
The portafilter is the pathway for transporting the coffee flavour from the grinds to your cup, so it’s important that you don’t allow your portafilter to add nasty flavours to your extraction.
- Pop out the basket and rinse the portafilter and basket under very hot water.
- Cut a small square from a green scourer and place it inside the portafilter.
- Rinse with a little hot water and scrub the scourer against the inside surface of the portafilter.
- Cleaning the base is the most important part, but make sure you clean the sides, lugs and spouts too.
- Portafilters are generally made of solid brass, so you don’t need to worry about wearing them out. If you have an aluminium portafilter or plastic inserts, use a damp cloth to wipe the surfaces clean.
- The basket can be washed by hand or in the dishwasher.
Total Time Required: ~1 minute
Step 6 — General Cleaning
- Double check that your steam wand, especially the steam tip, is free of milk. Occasionally, your steam tip will become clogged with milk. Use the metal nib on the end of the Pallo Coffeetool to clean the holes. If it is more seriously clogged, use a spanner to remove the steam tip. Soak the tip in hot water and a little detergent until the build up loosens, then tap and wipe out. You can also use a Pallo Steamy Wanda Brush to clear any built up milk from the inside of the steam wand. Note: when reattaching the steam tip, make sure you don’t over tighten it, as this will split the housing.
- Clean the drip tray. Tip out any liquid, rinse with hot water and wipe dry. Most drip trays are sturdily built, but a little care with the finish of the surface will always be appreciated.
Total Time Required: ~ 1 minute
This really doesn’t take very long to accomplish. Including routine systems, the total cleaning time required is around 4 minutes and 50 seconds. Investing five minutes in a cleaning routine will help to improve both the longevity of your espresso machine and the quality of your coffee. Your palate and hip pocket will both be grateful!
Check out Five Senses’ full range of cleaning solutions. To learn more about getting the most out of your espresso machine then book yourself in for a barista course at the Australian Barista Academy.