How to Properly Clean an Espresso Machine

Considering that many of us have made significant investments in good espresso machines, we certainly do not want horrible tasting coffee, because our metal gem has not been cleaned sufficiently!

But, this is precisely what happens if we neglect to clean our espresso machines properly, regardless of whether it is the latest, state of the art model, or a more modestly priced one. Espresso machines have many components, which means that germs, dirt, and minerals build up quite quickly through normal use.

For a continuous supply of great tasting coffee, and prolonging the life of the espresso machine, it is vital to thoroughly clean it on a regular basis.

Why Does Coffee Taste Like Mud Water if the Machine is Not Cleaned Properly?

Coffee beans contain some crucial oils that are responsible for a great tasting brew, and that luxuriant crema topping the espresso. But, over time the oils stick to the filter basket and portafilter, leaving a film which gives future cups of coffee a nasty, rancid flavor.

Left unclean long enough, these oils will even plug the holes in the filter basket and leave deposits inside the portafilter. Sticking to a cleaning schedule will eliminate these issues.

The day to day maintenance of the machine requires that you remove the grounds in the portafilter after brewing and rinse it with hot water. Before replacing portafilter, ensure that the filter basket is free of residue. Empty out the drip tray and wipe it clean with a damp cloth.

Eradicate milk residue from the frothing wand by allowing steam to run through it and then wipe with damp rag. Before wiping the frothing wand, make sure it has cooled down sufficiently so as not to get burned.

The weekly routine of cleaning your coffee machine can depend on the type you own. The semi-automatic espresso makers need only the minimal weekly maintenance.

  • Simply remove the filter basket, portafilter and steam wand and place them in a shallow bowl
  • Make a cleaning solution using one part vinegar and one part water and fill the bowl containing the parts with the solution
  • Allow to soak for about an hour
  • Rinse with cold water
  • Reassemble the machine, and you are ready for another week of great tasting coffee.

Clean Every Part of Your Coffee Maker Once in a While

Over time the minerals in water will build up inside the machine and these too will interfere with the taste of coffee. So every couple of months it is a good idea to clean out the water compartment as well.

Here’s a Great Little Tip for Cleaning the Water Compartment of Your Espresso Machine

Simply make a solution of three ounces of vinegar and 20 ounces of water and add it to the water compartment. Allow the machine to run without adding any coffee to remove the mineral deposits. You will need to run the machine three to four times with fresh water to remove the smell of vinegar after the treatment to get rid of the smell. Alternatively you can just buy a commercial espresso machine cleaner to clean out all the parts.

If you own a more professional machine with a three-valve system, the cleaning process is a bit more involved. Back-flushing is a cleaning process that is only needed with machines having the three-valve system. This system controls water flow throughout the machine. Back-flushing cleans the brew group, shower screen and the three-way valve. The process makes use of the pressure created in the machine to blow the cleaning fluid into the machine’s inner most brewing components. It removes the coffee oils and build-up from the shower screen.

To back-flush, remove the filter basket from portafilter and replace it with a filter basket without any holes (also called the blind basket). Add ½ teaspoon of white vinegar or back-flush cleaner into the basket. Replace the portafilter in the espresso machine and run the pump for about twenty seconds. When the pump becomes quiet, it in an indication that the required pressure is reached, at which point the pump can be turned off. You will be able to hear the sound of vinegar/cleaner being forced through the brew group. It will eventually be emptied into the drip tray at which point he process of back-flushing will have been completed and the machine will be ready to deliver more great tasting coffee.

About Andy James

Andy is a coffee aficionado and green tea enthusiast! Healthy living plays a huge part in his life and that of his family. Coffee and caffeine used to be a taboo topic, but after much research into its health benefits and how a good old cup of 'Joe' fits into every day life, Andy now advocates coffee as a wonderful addition to anyone life (in moderation, of course). So you will find subjects on this website relating to health, as well as everything else you need or want to know about coffee. You can find Andy on Twitter and Facebook, and also on Google +.

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