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Espresso Machine Maintenance

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Espresso machine maintenance

You and your machine make great espresso; let's keep it that way. Taking care of your equipment will ensure that it lives a long life and always does what it should. Here's your chore list.

Cleaning the group

When you pull a shot, some of the coffee's oil and grit can get sucked back into the group. To keep all parts clean and passageways clear, scrub and backflush regularly. If your machine has a 3-way solenoid valve, follow these steps. If it doesn't, you'll need to go another route: see the cleaning instructions in the owner's manual. Complete this routine no more than once or twice a month with detergent and, if you like, more often with just water.

You'll need a portafilter, blind portafilter disk, bristly brush , and espresso machine detergent (not just any cleaner!).

  1. Scrub the group screen and all of the group's nooks and crannies with a brush to loosen grit.
  2. Remove the basket from the portafilter and replace with a blank disk (included with most machines).
  3. Add a pinch of espresso machine cleaner to the portafilter and lock in the group.
  4. Run the machine's normal brewing cycle for 5-10 seconds, then stop.
  5. Wait 5-10 seconds, then repeat step 4 several times.
  6. Remove the portafilter and scrub the group again.
  7. Cleanse the machine of detergent by backflushing again, without any cleaner, then run brewing cycle without portafilter.
  8. To finish, prepare, pull, and discard one espresso.

Cleaning the steam system

What's worse than old coffee build-up? Rancid milk, that's what. Unless you want little "surprises" in your milk pitcher, clean your machine's steam system often. Immediately after each use, wipe the wand with a damp cloth, then purge. And every so often – especially if you notice decreased steam performance – you can go through this regimen.

Gather the goodies: steaming pitcher, milk wash, and a paperclip or safety pin.

  1. Mix solution of milk wash and water in steaming pitcher.
  2. Aerate solution with steam wand, as if it were milk.
  3. Remove the steam wand's tip and clean its holes with a paperclip or safety pin.
  4. Soak steam wand and removed tip in milk wash solution for 10 minutes.
  5. Reassemble steam wand, then purge.

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