How To Clean Your Espresso Machine
First, letís just cover who this article is aimed at. Weíre talking about commercial espresso machines here, not domestic machines or fully automatic units. If you have a commercial machine with portafilters and group heads, then read on. Please bear in mind that you should always consult your manufacturer handbook in the first instance, this guide is simply to highlight the importance of keeping your kit clean and give you some hints and tips on how to go about it.
Why clean your equipment at all?
Itís pretty simple really, coffee beans contain oils which are what creates a lovely crema on the top of your espresso. Unfortunately, the same oil also leaves a residue on your filter basket, portafilter, group head - anything it comes into contact with. Brass surfaces are particularly prone to attracting a film of oil and therefore, this residue needs to be removed.
What happens if I donít clean my machine?
The first thing youíll notice is that your coffee wonít taste very good. It will deteriorate to the point where itís undrinkable, no matter how good your beans are or how good a barista you think you are. What goes into the cup should be the best coffee you can produce, and this wonít happen if old coffee oil residue is being dragged through the machine when brewing. Additionally, the holes in your filter baskets will block, and you could in time be storing up a major failure in your espresso machine.
How often do I need to clean the machine?
Before we cover the routine cleaning of the machine, letís just make sure youíre looking after it while itís in use. You should purge and wipe your steam wand off after every use to prevent milk bonding itself to the steam arm or solidifying inside the pipe. Milk is a breeding ground for bacteria and so the steam arm needs to be kept spotlessly clean at all times.
You should be cleaning your espresso machine at the end of each session. Again, ensure you read this in conjunction with your operating instructions.
First, remove the filter basket from the portafilter and install a blind insert. Pour 1 level teaspoon of espresso cleaner powder into your portafilter and insert it back into the machine. Use the brewing switch and run the machine for approx 5 seconds. Stop the brewing cycle for a few seconds and then repeat it twice more (each time you stop the cycle, you will hear the cleaning solution backwashing the group head and pipe work). When the cleaning cycle has finished, remove the portafilter and rinse the powder from the machine by pressing for a double espresso. Rinse the portafilter thoroughly under the hot water tap before replacing back into the machine. Rinse the portafilters well under the hot water tap to remove all cleaner before replacing them back into the machine. Remove the filter baskets from the portafilters and place them into a container of warm water with 1 teaspoon of espresso cleaner powder and leave to soak overnight. Rinse well with cold water in the morning.
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