If you love espresso coffee, you probably also love your espresso machine the machine that makes it. In order to keep that espresso machine in good working order so that you get the pressure and correct amount of heat, you need to learn how to properly clean, so you get the best shot of espresso every time.
If you are wondering about this entire process, here is a step-by-step guide to everything you need to know about how to clean your espresso machine
How to Clean your Espresso Machine
Cleaning your home espresso machine is not difficult, even if it might not become your favorite hobby either, so don’t expect to enjoy the process more than you would any other cleaning chore.
To clean an espresso machine, you first need to wipe the screen and gasket and use some detergent to back flush it. You will need to soak the portafilter in a special cleaner, brush clean the basket, clean the steam wand and finally descale the espresso machine on a yearly basis.
For this process, you will need certain tools that are mandatory as well as some optional ones, which you could or could not use, depending on your particular situation. The following items tend to be mandatory for cleaning any type of espresso machine so try not to compromise or improvise when it comes to these objects:
- You need a cleaner designed specially for an espresso machine. This is a backflush detergent such as JoeGlo, Cafiza or PuroCaf
- A portafilter basket also known as a blank or a blind
- A towel
- A scrubby
- A bowl or cup that is big enough to soak the portafilter in
- A brush
- Milk cleanser
- A group head brush
Step by Step Cleaning Directions
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how you should clean your machine in order to make sure that you enjoy your espresso and prolong the life of your device. This is a detailed cleaning that should be performed once a week, depending on how much you use your espresso machine.
Step 1. Remove the Grinder Top
If you have a grinder that is part of your espresso machine, Take the grinder top off as you will clean this separately later. If you are not sure how to do that, you can check the instructions as the method might differ from one model to another but it’s very simple.
Step 2. Remove the Portafilter Screen
Wipe off any existing residue that you see on your coffee machine. Then remove the filter screen from you portafilter as there is oil residue that builds up with each shot of espresso pulled. You can use a kitchen towel to do that easily.
Step 3. Soak the Portafilter Screen
Use the bowl to soak the head of portafilter and screen, along with hot water and detergent. Just soak the head of the portafilter and not the handle. This will clean your portafilter while you are cleaning the machine itself but allow it to soak for at least 30 minutes
Step 4. Brush Clean the Gaskets
If you have a group brush, you can use it now to eliminate different deposits from your under portafilter gasket. Such a brush works great also for the threads that support the portafilter when you set it up and the edges of the shower screen. Use the brush to scrub all the residue that was hard or impossible to wipe off by using a towel.
Step 5. Add Detergent in Portfilter
If you have a second portafilter grab that one or after the 30 minutes, use the espresso machine specific detergent (like Cafetto) and the backflush basket. Usually, half a tablespoon of detergent will be enough for one backflush or one of the tablets. Add the detergent in the blind basket (basket with no holes) and snap it into the portafilter.
Step 6. Insert Portafilter into The Espresso Machine
After your portafilter is in place, you will need to read the instructions on what button combination to push. The instructions on how this will be in the manual that came with your home espresso machine. To get a visual idea on what should be done check out the video above.
Step 7. Remove Portafilter after Cleaning Cycle
After the cleaning cycle is complete, take the portafilter off the machine. You will notice that the tablet or detergent has disappeared, and you should see clear water.
Once the internal parts of your espresso machine are cleaned once, you can run a backflush again. Do this as many times as it takes until the water is not brown and has a clear. This means there is no residue left inside your espresso machine.
Step 8. Clean the Steam Wand
If your espresso machine has a steam wand, now is the time to clean it wand. Use a wet towel and wipe your steam wand on the outside as you do after each time you froth milk.
After that take care of the inside cleaning. You can clean the inside of your steam wand by using a special steam wand brush. You can also use a milk cleaning solution that you put inside a cup of water and run the frother.
Step 9. Clean the Outside of the Machine
Lastly, Clean the outside of your espresso machine. Use a clean damp towel to wipe all the surface of your machine. Dry it with a different towel and you are ready to brew some more coffee.
Espresso Machine Maintenance Schedule
Don’t just clean your espresso machine when you feel like it or when you have some free time. You should incorporate cleaning rituals into your weekly schedule if you want to have the best results from your espresso machine.
Here’s what you need to take into account as good cleaning tips when you want your espresso machine to function well for a long time.
- Clean the screen and gasket along with the portafilter and basket, every day.
- Backflush your espresso machine at least once a week by using the recommended detergent. This will reduce the residue left by the coffee oils and increase the taste and quality of your coffee cups.
- Clean the portafilter and the basket also every week, if you can’t do it a few times a week like it is recommended.
- Perform the general cleaning routine described above at least twice a month.
- During cleaning, use only a detergent that is made for cleaning espresso machines and strictly follow the instructions that come with it.
- Always descale your espresso machine on a yearly basis. This will make sure that you don’t allow calcium to gather up in the tank. Too much calcium added will change the taste of your coffee in a bitter way and alter the way your espresso machine functions.
- Keep your espresso machine in a place that is not exposed to a lot of dust and dirt. These can cause the way your machine looks on the outside to suffer over time, regardless of your cleaning routine.
Why Your Espresso Machine Needs to Be Cleaned
You might think that a good cup of coffee has nothing to do with how clean your espresso machine is. After all it does its just makes coffee, right? And you think to yourself, I only use it once or twice a day, how dirty can it get?
Well, let me tell you, if you don’t clean it on a regular basis, its not going to be pretty picture and your coffee will start tasting pretty bad and you can stop blaming the beans and roaster!
If the machine it isn’t cleaned properly, you can and will eventually get rancid flavors that will make a very poor tasting cup of coffee. You will also have problems with your machine which will be costly to repair or even worse, you will have to buy a new one.
Your espresso machine needs to be clean and well maintained if you want your coffee to be as tasty and flavorful as you expect it to be. Having a clean espresso machine both inside and out is a big reason for the great taste and great aroma that you get from your daily coffee.
To avoid this, it is important to keep your espresso machine clean if you want to have it last it for a long time. How often should you do this cleaning ritual? Try to clean it weekly or every 30 shots depending on how much coffee you drink.
If you don’t clean your espresso machine regularly, the pieces inside it will deteriorate sooner than usual and its lifespan will be a lot shorter than the predicted one.
As you can see, it is not difficult to maintain your espresso machine clean and taken care of. You can do that by incorporating healthy daily habits in your routine like running a backflush every evening.
It doesn’t matter what espresso machine you are using. It could be a fancy one or a regular one, but if you keep it clean, you prolong its life and save you more money in the long run. Plus, if you like a good coffee, there’s really no way to skip at least the weekly cleaning requirements.