Espresso machines are somewhat simple in their operation, but each time you are using one, you are leaving behind not only small pieces of coffee ground in various parts and pieces of the machine, but mineral buildup and oils as well.
Over time, if left unchecked, a dirty espresso machine will have a significant effect on the quality of the shots, and also the working ability of other parts of the machine, such as the steam wand. Eventually, the bad tastes and poorly functioning equipment can cease to work altogether.
Espresso machines are not cheap, and there’s also no point in having one unless you desire for it to always work at its best, so maintaining a proper cleaning schedule is essential.
Fortunately, if you are consistent with things, you can easily keep your machine working at its best, while avoiding the need for annoying long deep clean sessions in the future.
This guide will fill you in on the three different levels of cleaning you need to undertake to keep your machine clean and working well.
Cleaning your espresso machine daily (or after every time you use it) is the most important step you can take. It only takes a minute or so, but the payoff carries over as long as you own it.
For this, you’ll need a fine nylon brush or small scrub pad.
After you’re done pulling shots, remove the basket from the portafilter and rinse both the portafilter and the basket, and then use your brush or pad to remove any grime or ground remaining. Pay special attention to the basket and the perforated holes that may have trapped any grounds.
Set them aside to dry.
First, run a shot cycle without the portafilter attached to rinse any ground off the gasket and screen. Then, using your brush or pad, carefully run it along the surface to remove any grounds.
Flush the remaining water in the steam wand out, and then use a damp rag to clean off any milk residue left over. Flush it one more time.
If you use your machine frequently, you’ll need to perform some certain cleaning tasking weekly to keep everything in prime condition and avoid issues down the road. This mostly centers around using a cleaning solution for your machine and any detachable parts.
Start buy purchasing cleaning solution for espresso machines and parts (not descaler.)
Following the manufacturer's directions, dissolve the cleaner into a container of water. Using a rag or sponge, use the solution to clean off any stains on the outside of the machine, including inside of the drip tray reservoir.
In separate containers, dissolve more cleaner, and then place your portafilter and basket into the containers to soak overnight. If you can remove the grouping assembly, soak those parts too. The same goes for the steam wand.
Dump the containers the next day, rinse the parts off, and allow them to dry.
If your machine allows backwashing, this is a good time to do it. This is done by using a portafilter basket without holes and running a shot cycle.
Descaling should be done every few months to remove built up mineral residue inside the machine. If you have exceptionally hard water, you should do this at least every month or two.
Cleaning your espresso machine is definitely not the funnest part of having one, but once you get the hang of it, it shouldn’t take you long at all.
By following a set schedule and developing some good habits after each use, you can easily ensure that your espresso machine is always clean and working on a high level -- which also means better coffee.