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.
- Scrub the group screen and all of the group's nooks and crannies with a brush to loosen grit.
- Remove the basket from the portafilter and replace with a blank disk (included with most machines).
- Add a pinch of espresso machine cleaner to the portafilter and lock in the group.
- Run the machine's normal brewing cycle for 5-10 seconds, then stop.
- Wait 5-10 seconds, then repeat step 4 several times.
- Remove the portafilter and scrub the group again.
- Cleanse the machine of detergent by backflushing again, without any cleaner, then run brewing cycle without portafilter.
- 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.
- Mix solution of milk wash and water in steaming pitcher.
- Aerate solution with steam wand, as if it were milk.
- Remove the steam wand's tip and clean its holes with a paperclip or safety pin.
- Soak steam wand and removed tip in milk wash solution for 10 minutes.
- Reassemble steam wand, then purge.