Espresso machine cleaning
Espresso machine cleaning : Cleanliness is next to godliness (by "Carolynb")
Keeping your machine clean:
- prevents oily deposits spoiling the taste of your carefully made espresso
- helps keep your machine in good working order
- and is important for good kitchen hygiene.
Every Time You Make A Coffee
After every cup of coffee you should clean the milk wand thoroughly with a damp cloth and release some steam to expel any milk and clean the nozzle holes. If you are not going to make another coffee for a while we recommend that you empty the grounds from the filter basket, wipe with a damp cloth and replace on the group head. Then run some water through it to rinse off remaining coffee grounds and coffee residues, empty, wipe, and replace again. If you leave coffee grounds in the filter for a long period they can get baked on and become difficult to remove.
Wipe the chassis of the machine with a neutral cleaner to remove splashes and coffee grounds.
On machines with professional group heads (those that have a pressure release mechanism such as the E61 group head on the Isomac Millennium) you should carry out the backflush procedure using a blind filter (a blind filter looks similar to an ordinary filter but has no holes). Run water through the group head and jiggle the filter handle to rinse the water around the shower-screen and the seal on the underside of the group head. Then tighten the filter handle. Run water into the group head for about 10 seconds and release the pressure as if you had just finished drawing an espresso shot. Repeat this 3 or 4 times to rinse any residues through the pressure release mechanism.
Test your espresso by pouring a small spoon of sugar on the crema: it should stay on top of the crema for a while.
Machines with professional group heads should be regularly cleaned using cleaning tablets or powder. We would recommend using a cleaning tablet or powder every 30 uses or so, or at least once a week. Place a cleaning tablet or the powder in the blind filter and run water into the group head for about 10 seconds and then release the pressure as if you had just finished drawing an espresso shot. Wait for a further 30 seconds to allow time for the cleaning tablet or powder to dissolve and for it to deal with the coffee residues and repeat. After repeating 3 or 4 times thoroughly wash all traces of the cleaning tablet or powder from the blind filter and repeat the backflushing process with plain water. Using an angled nylon brush carefully clean all remaining coffee grounds and residues from the underside of the group head paying particular attention to around the seal.
Dissolve another cleaning tablet or sachet of powder in a plastic or stainless steel bowl to soak the filter baskets and handles. After soaking for a while scrub them with a stiff bristle nylon brush to remove stubborn coffee residues (wear gloves to protect your hands from the cleaning chemicals). Thoroughly rinse the filter baskets and handles before using them again.
Thoroughly clean any milk residues from the steam wand and clean the inside of the wand using a fine pipe brush. You may also choose to use one of the cleaning products designed to help remove milk residues.
Every 3 to 6 Months
Even if you use filtered water you will need to occasionally descale your machine to remove traces of limescale from pipes, valves, and the boiler. If you are not using filtered water then we would recommend that you do - with soft water it will still remove other impurities, traces of metals, and improve the taste. The harder the water is the more often you will need to descale your machine. Water test strips can be used to find out how hard the water is in your area.
We would recommend that you use a citric acid based descaler. This is designed for use in espresso machines and any traces that remain after the descaling process are harmless. You can also use distilled white vinegar but you may find this leaves a slight lingering smell/taste.
Empty the water reservoir and fill with the descaling solution. Run the machine to fill the boiler and pipes with the descaling solution. Leave the machine switched on for several hours. Occasionally run some of the descaling solution through the steam wand and hot water wand, and also use the backflush procedure to run some of the descaling solution through the group head and pressure release valve. After a few hours empty the water reservoir and refill with clean water. Flush the clean water through the boiler, pipes, steam wand, hot water wand, group head, and pressure release valve - you will probably need to use 1 or 2 full reservoirs of clean water. When you are satisfied that the boiler is full of clean water make at least one cup of coffee and throw it away. You can also use PH test strips to check that all the descaling solution has been rinsed out.
The descaling procedure will vary depending on the type of machine and the descaling product being used. The procedure outlined above is intended as a rough guide but you should always follow the instructions from the manufacturer of the machine and the descaling product where available.
On some machines (mostly those with a heat exchanger) you can empty the boiler by switching the machine off (after it has been running at operating temperature) and then open the hot water tap - the steam pressure will force hot water out of the boiler and it will not refill because it is switched off. This can help speed up flushing the descaling solution from the machine after descaling.
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Some tips mainly for Non E61 type group head machines (those that cant be backflushed).
After you have made a coffee (and before you drink it) a 40 second routine to ensure easy cleanup)
1. Remove filterbasket, empty and rinse
2. Run water through the group into small container, empty and run again until water is clean)
3. Replace Filterbasket
4. Hold quite damp damp cloth around steamwand for 10 seconds and wipe (only if you have steamed milk)
This done each time you make a coffee or group of coffees, will pay dividends in extending machine life and reducing the maintenance work you have to do at regular intervals.
For those portafiltres and baskets, jugs, shotglasses etc..
If you have a dishwasher, a little dishwasher liquid or powder in hot water, soak for about 10 minutes then gently brush. Liflts of coffee residues like nothing before. (Rinse well as some liquids are a bit clingy :)
I havnt yet tried disolving a little into a concentrates solution and backflushin my E61 yet, but when I do will let you know how it works :)
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