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How to Upkeep and Maintain Your Espresso Machine: The Nitty-Gritty

maintaining you respresso machine

No matter how expensive or state-of-the-art it is, your espresso machine’s length of service depends on how well you do upkeep and maintenance for it. It’s an appliance, not some artificial intelligence that can take care of itself. And we don’t mean just cleaning it well on your part. There’s more to it than this. If you have no idea of what else you could do, allow us to share with you everything we know of how to upkeep and maintain your espresso machine.

cleaning

Let’s begin with the basics: scrubbing, rinsing, wiping, soaking, backflushing, descaling, and filtering the water you’d use. They aren’t as simple as you think.

To properly scrub the group head, use some coffee detergent and a small scrubbing pad. A non-coffee detergent can leave residue that can affect the coffee’s taste. A small scrubbing pad enables you to clean even the nook and crannies, ensuring you’ll clean the group head completely.

To avoid unwittingly contaminating it, make sure you rinse your espresso machine with clean water, and wipe down each part with a separate towel. Not using just one towel to wipe down each part prevents cross contamination.

Loosening up dirt makes cleaning easy. To make sure of this, before scrubbing and wiping them down, soak the main parts (i.e., filter, basket, shower screen, and steam wand) in a solution of hot, clean water and some coffee detergent. Do this at least twice a week.

If your espresso machine has three-way valves, you should backflush. Backflushing is basically the process of using water to wash out the contaminants from the water lines and the brewing valves. Backflush daily with clean water and weekly with coffee detergent.

Descaling is basically the process of washing out the remaining milk from the steam wand using water or some commercially available milk-washing solution. Milk remains can find their way into the boiler through the steam wand. Once they do, getting them out will be virtually impossible. Overtime, they will spoil and cause your espresso machine to emit a stench.

While it may sound fussy, using filtered water for brewing helps keep your espresso machine in good working condition. Espresso machine injectors are usually the same size as a pinhead. Since water carries microscopic minerals, buildup could occur in your espresso machine injector and put it out of commission. Filtered water carries less microscopic minerals than unfiltered water, so using the former for brewing has less chances of leading to an accident than using the latter.

Here are the rest of the things you should know about how to upkeep and maintain your espresso machine:

What You Should Do Daily:

How Best to Clean the Group Head

  1. Scrub the entire group head using a nylon brush.
  2. Temporarily replace the portafilter basket with the blank disk your espresso machine came with.
  3. Sprinkle a pinch of espresso machine cleaner into the portafilter.
  4. Lock in the group head.
  5. Brew for 5–10 seconds, stop, and wait for 5–10 seconds.
  6. Repeat Steps 1–4 at least thrice.
  7. Remove the portafilter.
  8. Scrub the group head down again.
  9. Backflush without any cleaner.
  10. Brew without the portafilter.

How Best to Clean the Milk-steaming System

  1. In the steaming pitcher, mix together water and some commercially available milk-washing solution.
  2. Aerate the resulting solution using the steam wand.
  3. Carefully remove the steam wand’s tip.
  4. Clean out the tip’s holes using a sanitized sowing pin.
  5. Soak the steam wand and its tip separately in the solution for at least 10 minutes.
  6. Reassemble the steam wand.
  7. Purge the steam wand.
  8. Pull an espresso shot to check if the milk-steaming system had been cleaned successfully. If not, repeat steps 1–8.

What You Should do Once Every 1–3 months/

  1. Dismantle, soak, and scrub the steam wand using a commercially available pipe cleaner made specifically for this use.
  2. Replace old, hard, broken, or damaged parts.
  3. Check the group head’s shower screen. Backflush it before doing so. Replace it if the meshing is damaged or clogging up.
  4. Replace the gaskets if they are hard or brittle, or if the group head leaks when you pull shots of espresso.
  5. Replace or have repaired the steam wand if steam escapes from its tip for more than a second or two after you close the steam wand valve. If this has happened before, you may order a rebuild kit and rebuild it yourself. Doing so will be simple, and won’t take more than 1 hour, so don’t worry.
  6. If the steam wand knob is loose or sticks, have the gaskets changed, and the knob and knob parts rebuilt.
  7. If your espresso tastes off, or if your milk is not getting steamed properly, check the pressure gauges. The steam pressure should be between .08 and 1.2 atmospheres. The pump pressure should be between 8 and 9 atmospheres. Less or more pressure could have an adverse effect in both the brewing and the milk steaming processes.
  8.  Clean the entire coffee grinder thoroughly
  9. If the burrs are dull, replace them.
  10. Clean the burrs using some commercially available grinder cleaner. Grinder cleaners are designed to soak up coffee oil residue from the burrs without burning their oils.

It would be virtually impossible to prepare coffee as good as a barista without an espresso machine. If you want to continue enjoying great coffee made yourself right in the comfort of your own home, you should take good care of yours. Having shared to you all that we know of how to upkeep and maintain your espresso machine, we hope it can last for as long as possible.

Do you know of the effective ways of taking good care of an espresso machine that we missed? Share your knowledge with us. We’d love to hear from you.

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About the Author Michael York

I am a die-hard espresso fan. I love every form of the drink from straight espresso shots to lattes and cappuccinos. I currently use a Breville BES870XL Barista, it is an awesome machine. BUT, my dream machine is definitely an Italian Quickmill Andreja. Those bad boys make badass espresso. I love answering your questions, leave a comment or question below!

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