How to Clean an Espresso Machine

Espresso machines are wonderful devices that are excellent for ensuring you get a perfect cup of coffee every day. However, they can also be complicated to clean. They come in various shapes and sizes, from simple solutions that transform coffee grounds into instant caffeine shots to comprehensive devices equipped with their steam wand and milk section for lattes.

If you’ve recently purchased a new coffee machine for your espresso shots, learning how to clean away the coffee oils and stop the drip tray from overflowing is crucial. Fortunately, the maintenance process doesn’t have to be as overwhelming as it might seem. Once you get the hang of it, it is quite easy.

Today, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about how to clean an espresso machine, so you can ensure you have a clean machine to make your coffee with every brew cycle.

Basic Espresso Machine Cleaning

If you’re using your coffee machine every day, there’s a good chance you need to clean it more often too. Failing to use the right cleaning solution could mean that your device doesn’t last as long as it should. It won’t be long too before it does not make your coffee the way you want it to be.

For most people, standard espresso machine cleaning means stocking up on espresso machine cleaning powder, group head cleaning brushes, a cleaning blank, and a plastic container, where you can soak your portafilter basket.

  1. The first step for this cleaning process is removing the portafilter from the group head.
  2. After that, you can remove the portafilter basket.
  3. Fill the plastic container you collected for your deep cleaning session with boiling water and place it in the basket to soak.
  4. From there, place the cleaning blank in your portafilter and add around a teaspoon or so of the espresso machine cleaning powder. Check the instructions to make sure the amount is right.
  5. Insert the portafilter into the group head like you would when making your espresso shot, and you’ll be ready to backwash the machine.

Backwashing the Espresso Machine

Not all espresso machines will automatically come with a backwash or backflush capability. It’s worth checking this before you start shopping for your coffee grounds. After you’ve cleaned out the group heads and followed the steps above, you may be able to conduct a backwashing cycle to ensure everything is as clean as possible.

  1. Given that your espresso machine supports backwashing, once you’ve inserted the portafilter with the cleaning blank in the group head, use the continuous pour button to begin the brew cycle.
  2. The process should force the water and cleaning powder through the machine to clean out any coffee grounds and residual leftovers, so your machine can be as clean as possible. After backwashing for around 15 to 20 seconds, you should stop and wait another 60 seconds before running the wash through again.
  3. For a full clean of the group heads and espresso machine, most people recommend doing a minimum of five backwashes before removing the portafilter and rinsing it clean.
  4. From there, insert the portafilter back into the system with the cleaning blank in place and repeat the backwash.
  5. Remove the portafilter next and activate the brew cycle to flush the full group head, then use the cleaning brush for the group head to wash the filter and seal and the shower plates to remove any leftover residue and coffee.
  6. Next, fill the container with around a litre of boiling water, and add some of your espresso machine cleaning powder.
  7. Place the portafilter, basket, and cleaning blank in the cleaning and descaling solution to soak.
  8. After about fifteen minutes, you should be able to take all of the components back out of the container and rinse them with hot water. You might want to remove the drip tray and blind filter if you’re doing a deep clean of your espresso machine to remove all coffee oils and residue.

Cleaning the Steam Wands

The steps above should help take you through cleaning the group head and most of the components of your espresso machine. However, you’ll still need to clean the steam wand if your machine comes with one.

  1. To do this, fill the container you used to clean the group head and other containers with around 500ml of cold water. You should be able to find milk frother cleaners online to clean this portion of your device.
  2. Submerge the wand from your machine in the water for a few seconds, engage the steam wand, and repeat the process a few times.
  3. Afterwards, wipe the metal of the want to remove any build-up of milk or scale. It may take a few minutes to get the espresso wand completely clean.

Remember, be cautious when you’re cleaning your steam wand. It’s usually a good idea to reduce the amount of time you spend with the steam wand submerged without being engaged. Don’t soak your steam wand, as this can sometimes cause the milk residue or build up back through the system and into the boiler.

You could also consider using the brush you used to clean various parts of your machine, like the group gasket and dispersion screen in the remove portafilter section of the wash.

The brush can help to get rid of any hard milk deposits leftover in some espresso machines. Be careful when cleaning your machine and milk wand with a brush, and try not to push anything too far into the wand itself when you’re scrubbing with clean water.

Effective Tips for Cleaning Your Espresso Machine

Hard water, coffee residue, old grounds, and countless other substances can sit within espresso machines over time, causing them to become dirty and inefficient. Although you can rinse your machines regularly, it’s important to flush the entire system as often as possible if you want to continue getting the best brewing experience.

A repeat washing schedule should make your machine last longer in the long run, and it often only involves a few simple steps. If you don’t have a lot of special equipment for descaling and cleaning your espresso machine, you may be able to clean the system with vinegar. Descaling coffee machines with vinegar is an excellent way to preserve the taste of your coffee and prolong the life of the device.

All you need to do to clean the machine with vinegar is mix a descaling solution of three parts vinegar to one part water and run the machine. You should ensure you check the brewing instructions provided by the group that made your machine to ensure vinegar won’t harm the taste or performance of the machine first.

Remember, after using vinegar to clean the system. You’ll need to rinse everything thoroughly before using the system to make your home espresso. Rinsing the dispersion screen and the various components of your espresso machine will maintain a fresh taste.

The same applies if you decide to use citric acid powder and lemon juice to clean your machine and group heads. Citric acid powder, like vinegar, is great for descaling a home espresso machine.

Cleaning Your Espresso Machine

Whether you use a natural solution like citric acid or specially made cleaning substances, regularly washing your espresso machine should ensure you can keep it in great condition for as long as possible.

Remember, it’s important to clean all the parts of your device as regularly as possible. This means you should also take the time to wash over the outside of your coffee machine with a damp rag or a cloth. Giving your device a wipe-down on the outside won’t affect the taste or performance of the machine, but it will make the product look better in your kitchen.

Once you’re comfortable and confident with the entire cleaning process, make sure you schedule a time at the end of the brewing cycle to clean the essential components and regularly deep clean and wash the entire device.

It may seem like a lot of work, so it is best to allocate enough time to clean your espresso machine. However, it becomes easier when you have done this several times.

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