1. Filter your water
It is certainly the case that what goes in = what comes out. The importance of a high-quality water filter which is changed regularly cannot be overlooked. Hard water causes scale which damages your espresso machine and affects the taste, appearance, and aroma of your espresso. Eliminating limescale is therefore vital for making excellent espresso and reducing machine downtime. Independent taste tests have confirmed that consumers can taste the difference between coffee made with filtered water and coffee made with ordinary tap water.
2. Use cleaning products
There are many brands to choose from when deciding which espresso machine cleaning products to buy. When cleaning group heads using a product that activates quickly is essential. The cleaning cycle itself only takes a couple of minutes, so if the product you select does not dissolve quickly enough it simply will not work. Avoid products that carry the hazardous symbol. You are making coffee, make sure you are always certain of food hygiene & safety.
3. Daily cleaning – group heads
Group heads and steam wands need to be cleaned daily to remove residue from coffee & milk deposits. Group head cleaning/backflushing ensures that your espresso is free from coffee deposits which can leave drinks with a bitter aftertaste and unpleasant odours. Overtime these deposits build up causing your machine to fail which usually results in the group head leaking around the porta filter area.
4. Clean the filter basket & filterholder
Deposits from oils in the coffee build up in the filter basket and underneath it. If left, these restrict the flow of coffee through the basket leading to an uneven extraction and a bitter aftertaste. Use a good coffee grounds cleaning brush to sweep the basket out in-between shots, remove and clean the filter basket and wipe the inside of your filterholder often. Soak the filterholder (filter basket area only) in warm water with a measure of your group head cleaner every 3 days. Be careful not to submerge the porta filter handle as this will wear the finish, especially if the handle is a matt black finish. Do not use descale for cleaning porta filters or filter baskets.
5. Purge the group head in between shots
Always purge between every shot to remove any excess coffee grinds in the group head
6. Wipe the steam wand with a damp cloth immediately after frothing & then purge the steam wand with steam
This prevents old milk from crusting up the steam wand & inside the steam nozzle throughout the day. This will improve the micro texture of milk foam, reducing the time taken to foam.
7. Use the right tools
Do not underestimate the importance of using the correct tools for the job. A good group head cleaning brush, a coffee grounds cleaning brush, a microfibre cloth, and of course your cleaning agents are all you need.
8. Do not forget the grinder
The road to the perfect espresso starts with the grinder. Coffee deposits in the grinder blades/burrs turn rancid when exposed to the heat from the grinding process. Cleaning of these deposits with a specialist cleaner ensures they are removed. Do not forget to clean deposits from the inside hopper too. Turn the grinder off at the mains and close the hopper level to prevent beans from falling out of your hopper. If you do not close the hopper, you will learn extremely fast not to repeat this in the future. Once the hopper has been removed from your grinder, place the beans into a storage container. Using a microfibre cloth, wash the inside hopper with warm washing up liquid. This will strip down any coffee oils which weld to the inside hopper. Rinse with fresh water and dry using a soft cloth. Refit the hopper to the grinder and you are ready to go.
Taking the time to clean & maintain your espresso machine & grinder is just as important as making espresso’s and foaming milk. A clean machine really does produce the best coffee and is less likely to break down and let you down.