Whether you work at a coffee shop or prefer to brew your espresso and coffee at home, machine maintenance is an essential part of producing high-quality and consistently good coffee. A well-maintained machine will run smoothly and last longer between services, and you are less likely to experience major problems. Unfortunately, cleaning coffee machines can be pretty tedious, and many baristas haven’t been trained to perform this essential duty correctly. Here’s what you should know.
Clean the portafilters. This is the first step in the cleaning process. Place half a scoop of cleaning chemical in each filter basket, then insert the portafilters into the group head. Dispense water from the group for 30 seconds. Remove the portafilters and rinse using the water tap on the espresso machine. Remove the basket and wipe clean all over. Both the group handle and basket should be free of oil at this point. Then, use your bench cloth to wipe the group head seals, but be careful—they’re likely hot.
Backflush. Cleaning the internal parts of an espresso machine can be tricky. You’ll need to follow a process called “back-flushing.” Every tie the pump of a coffee machine turns off after making espresso, the machine draws a bit of coffee and water back inside the group head. Back-flushing with chemicals will help to remove any oils or grime which build up in the internal piping.
To clean, place half a scoop of cleaning chemical in each blind filter basket. Insert portafilters into the group head and lock it tightly. Activate the group heads for ten seconds, then deactivate them for ten seconds. Cycle the group heads on and off five times, then remove the blind portafilters and dispense water from the group head for ten seconds. Rinse out the blind portafilters. Repeat the backflush process without chemicals to rinse the machine.
Clean your group heads. Depending on your machine, the shower screens of the group heads may be held in place by a screw. If this is the case, you’ll need to drop the shower screen to clean it—grime will build up daily. Additionally, you’ll need to clean the rubber seals with a cloth.