How Do I Get The Most Out Of My Espresso Machine?
As a coffee aficionado, you’ve invested in the tastiest coffee beans, the purest filtered water, and the most advanced espresso maker that money can buy… but why aren’t you getting the same delicious results from your home espresso setup that you’re used to from the fancy coffee shop down the street? The answer might be simpler than you think.
You might think your home espresso machine is “clean enough”, but unseen impurities like rancid oils, espresso debris, milk proteins, and mineral deposits can lead to “off” flavors that will ruin even the most carefully made espresso. By regularly following our daily, weekly, and monthly cleaning tips, you can easily extend the life of your machine and enjoy great tasting espresso any time you want it. We can’t promise that you’ll like the routine of cleaning your espresso maker, but we can promise that you’ll love the benefits of espresso brewed in a properly functioning machine.
You’ve gotten into the habit of enjoying your daily shot of espresso; now, by developing a few more simple daily habits, you can ensure that your espresso shot tastes its very best day after day.
- After brewing, dump spent grounds from your portafilter
- For small home machines, rinse the portafilter with water from the brew group
- For prosumer espresso makers, rinse the portafilter with water from the hot water dispenser
- Check the filter basket for residue and make sure it is clear before replacing
- Run water through the shower screen and scrub with a group brush
- Empty the drip tray at least every other day
- Purge the frothing wand by running steam through in order to dispense any milk residue
- Wipe the frothing wand with a damp rag to remove milk residue
- Wipe down the exterior of your espresso maker
IMPORTANT: Never use dish detergent on your espresso maker, as it will leave behind residue that will ruin the taste of your espresso.
Your weekly cleaning and maintenance routine will differ depending on the type of espresso machine you are using.
If you own a semi-automatic espresso maker, your weekly cleaning routine will be relatively minimal. To ensure optimal brewing, simply soak the machine’s shower screen, filter basket, portafilter, and steam wand in a shallow bowl with an approved espresso machine cleaning solution or white vinegar and water for at least ½ hour. Wipe and purge your steam wand after soaking, and carefully dislodge any remaining crusty milk from the steam tip holes.
If you own an advanced pro-sumer style espresso maker with a 3-way solenoid valve, your cleaning routine may involve a more advanced step called “backflushing”. While this step might seem intimidating at first, you’ll be cleaning your espresso machine like a pro before you know it!
- Remove your portafilter’s filter basket and replace it with a blind basket (a filter basket with no holes)
- Place ½ teaspoon of designated backflush cleaner or white vinegar into the basket
- Place the portafilter with the blind basket back into the brew group and hit the pump
- Leave the pump running for about 20 seconds; when you hear the pump go quiet, it means the necessary pressure has built up and you can turn off the pump
- You will hear the sound of fast moving water as the cleaner is forced up the brew group, through the 3 way valve, and emptied into the drip tray
- This process must be repeated sans cleaner several more time until the water dispensed into the drip tray runs clear, indicating that the cleaning agent has been completely removed from your espresso maker
IMPORTANT: Not all espresso makers that utilize a 3-way solenoid valve require backflushing. Please refer to the user manual before you perform a backflush to avoid damaging your machine.
As the months fly by, crucial cleaning steps like decalcifying your espresso maker can sometimes skip your mind. Decalcifying your machine every three months or so removes the calcium deposits that have built up over time from the minerals in your water. These calcium deposits can lead to a bitter flavor in your espresso and can eventually damage your machine.
For more detailed information on the decalcification process, please see our in-depth guide.
Another crucial factor in maintaining shot after shot of delicious espresso is clean water. By regularly checking your water filter and replacing it if necessary (Or, in the case of inline filtration systems that utilize cartridges, ensuring that those cartridges are still working), you can help guarantee that the very best water is going into your beverage.
With a little dedication and a lot of TLC, you can continue enjoying high-quality espresso day after day without ever changing out of your pajamas!