· By Jonathan Parent
Essentials for maintaining your espresso machine and grinder
You've been putting off cleaning your espresso machine and your grinder for several months. The signs are obvious: coffee grounds are accumulating in the head unit, your basket is gradually changing its luster for the brown color, your steam nozzle sometimes seems clogged, then your mill offers resistance to the passage of grains Here are some essential tips for maintaining your equipment, to be repeated, at least monthly, to ensure its durability.é.
Because it's not just about having good coffees on hand, your equipment must also be able to get the most out of them. For this reason and to stretch their lifespan, the maintenance of your espresso machine and grinder becomes one of the priorities. In fact, some models are designed to last up to 10 years (and more) if properly maintained. Not cleaning your espresso machine can over time lead to the accumulation of deposits up to the obstruction of pipes and heating elements. This reduces water flow as well as temperature resulting in poor coffee extraction. Then, in the long term, you risk damaging the internal parts of your machine. It will be understood that the maintenance of an espresso machine thus requires more investment than just passing a damp cloth and emptying the drip tray. And it's worth it! Keeping your equipment and surroundings clean means that the only thing you extract into your cup will be freshly ground coffee and all it has to offer, without the off-flavors of oils from your old beans.
For deep cleaning
The leading group
There are three distinct steps to properly cleaning the head unit of your espresso machine and its accessories: backwashing (back flush), the cleaning of the filter holder and that of the hand shower. Backwashing is a process to clean the head unit and pressure relief valve (three way valve), which opens and releases the water pressure and deposits it in the drip tray. Before backwashing,check that your espresso machine has this valve in the user guide or with the manufacturer, since only machines equipped with it can be cleaned in this way. Note that some espresso machines are equipped with an automatic backwash cycle.
The instructions for performing a manual backwash (back flush):
- Insert ablind filter in your portafilter or a silicone/rubber membrane on a standard basket to plug its holes.
- Measure a teaspoon of cleanser (ex.Puly Caff Verde) and put it in your basket.
- Place the filter holder in the head group, then activate the machine for 10 seconds. Wait 5 seconds.
- Repeat the cleaning cycle (#3) 5 to 8 times, depending on the condition of your machine. Do not hesitate to put more descaler and repeat a cleaning cycle if the water is still brownish at the end.
- Remove the filter holder and rinse it.
- Use a brush (eg.pallo brush) to dislodge remaining coffee particles in the head group.
- Reinsert the filter holder fitted with the blind filter, without powder this time. Repeat #3 to flush the water lines and ensure that no descaler residue remains.
- Remove the portafilter and let water flow from the head unit for a few seconds.
There you go, your espresso machine is ready and above all, clean!
To clean the filter holder as well as the hand shower, prepare a bowl with hot water and a teaspoon of descaler. Simply separate the basket from the portafilter, then place them separately in the bowl of water. To remove the spray head from the head group, a screw in the center holds it in place on most espresso machines. Remove the screw, then use a tool such as a utensil or a screwdriver as a lever to remove the sprayer. Soak everything for about twenty minutes. Finish by rinsing the accessories with hot water and if necessary, rub them lightly, avoiding rough sponges or steel wool which will only scratch your equipment.
The steam nozzle
The important thing is to clean the steam nozzle each time you use it with a clean cloth so that the milk does not stick to it. If this ever happens, you can place a damp cloth there for about ten minutes. The milk should come off with just a quick wipe. Do not pick up a metallic object to scrape the steam nozzle, which will damage its coating increasing the chances that the milk will burn on it and form a crust.
Each month, at the same time as soaking the filter holder and the showerhead in the solution, why not add the tip of your steam nozzle and let it soak for twenty minutes as well. Before reinstalling it, check that the hole in the tip is not obstructed..
The water tank
One of the two main ingredients in your coffee is water. But, over the days, in the tank the bacteria multiply. Sometimes, it is visible deposits and other times, it is by touching the wall that has become viscous that you quickly realize it. Once a month, it is therefore a good idea to empty the tank of your espresso machine and clean it with an antibacterial soap, in order to eliminate the micro-organisms that develop there and to have the best possible water for the preparation. of your coffees.
The last element to clean is your grinder: the hopper, the grinding wheels as well as the container in which your beans are once ground. In fact, fine particles can overload your grinder motor by clogging the burrs, and oils from old coffee can seep into your next brews. This is why it is recommended to carry out certain steps every two weeks and a deep cleaning at an interval of three months.
For the hopper and the tank, a fortnightly cleaning will be sufficient. Wipe them with a cloth to remove the accumulation of dust and coffee oils. If some residue is stubborn, use lukewarm water with a little mild soap, but be sure to rinse immediately so that the odors do not contaminate your future coffees. Dry everything before putting them back in place so as not to wet the wheels and the motor, which could corrode over time.
For grinding wheels (conical or flat), as soon as you feel unusual resistance, use a sachet of crystals (ex.Puly Grind Verde) that you will pour into the hopper. By adding coffee beans and activating the grinder for 5 seconds, the crystals will partially remove the accumulated oils. Discard the next two grinds to prevent any product remaining. Then, for a thorough cleaning, you can rely on your grinder's instruction guide to remove the top burr. With a brush, a cloth, a toothpick or any other precision object, remove the coffee particles stuck in the hollows of the burrs. Reassemble the grinder afterwards and grind a few grams of coffee to check that everything is in its place.
« Prevention is better than cure»
To prevent equipment breakage or to avoid having to do intensive cleaning more regularly, here are the habits to integrate into your daily coffee routine.
To prevent clogging from dry milk and bacteria buildup, purge the steam wand for a few seconds before and after use. In addition, wipe it with a clean cloth after using it.
Rinse the head group by activating the machine pump before and after preparing your coffee. This removes some of the coffee oils and old grounds that have accumulated on the wand, which can add unwanted flavors to your shots. It is also possible to use a cloth to wipe the spray head and remove the most accessible particles.
Discard the coffee puck as soon as the extraction is complete. Take the opportunity to rinse and wipe the portafilter and its basket.
Filter your water before putting it in the tank, at a minimum, with a Brita or a Peak Water carafe. Hard water, i.e. with a high concentration of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) and magnesium (Mg), causes lime deposits to form more quickly in the pipes of your espresso machine. More frequent cleaning will therefore be necessary. Using clean, filtered water with low salts and minerals(according to SCA standards), you eliminate certain risks of breakage. The other options are to use softener pouches that you slip directly into the reservoir of your espresso machine or to prepare your water from distilled water and minerals (or with a sachet of Third Wave Water). Contact the city to receive the water assessment report and thus opt for the most suitable solution.
Otherwise, you want to take advantage of our espresso machine or grinder maintenance service before you start?
Research and writing by Chloé
DIY Water Recipes, Barista Hustle.
How to Clean and Maintain Your Espresso Machine, Perfect Daily Grind.
How to Clean Your Espresso Machine, Barista Institute..
The Best Water for Coffee - An Introduction, James Hoffmann.