How to care for a coffee machine
Cleaning, maintenance, and safe operation of all parts of the equipment are vital for the machine’s productive and efficient functioning. Roasted coffees contain oils that are extracted from the coffee grounds during brewing, and these create residual build-ups on everything they come in contact with.
If these residues are not removed, they will create bitter overtones that will detract from the true character of the coffee. A few maintenance measures that can be undertaken are:
Always ensure that the machine is at full operating temperature before using it.
Every day, back-flush the machine in the night. However, machines not equipped with a solenoid shouldn’t be back-flushed. To back-flush, follow these steps:
- Replace the perforated filter basket in the porta-filter with the basket that has no holes. (These are provided by the manufacturer).
- Add the manufacturer’s recommended amount of an espresso machine detergent into the basket.
- Place the portafilter back into the machine, and activate the brew cycle, allowing the machine to run for about 10 seconds.
- Remove the porta-filter and dispose of the soapy water that has collected in the basket.
- Without adding additional detergent, repeat the back-flushing process multiple times until the water appears clear. A few additional back-flushes will then be necessary to ensure that all the detergent residues have been rinsed away. The porta-filter is another part of the machine in which cleanliness is critical. As the extracted coffee pours through this part of the machine, residues can build up rather quickly.
- Clean the porta-filters daily with a small amount of espresso machine detergent and a soft scouring pad and a small brush.
- Avoid any metal or highly abrasive pads as these may wear away the plating and expose the soft brass under-metal. It is important to remove the drain grate each day to remove the build-up of coffee sediments in the drip pan underneath. The steam wand should be wiped clean after each drink is prepared, then thoroughly cleaned at the end of each day. To clean the steam wand, open the steam valve and let it vent-off steam for several seconds to remove any milk residues that may have collected inside the wand.
The steaming wand tip should also be removed and cleaned thoroughly on a weekly basis.
Coffee maker service
The screen and shower-head should be cleaned bi-weekly. They are located up in the group head and are held by a center screw. The screen and shower-head should be soaked in water overnight with a small amount of machine detergent, and then scrubbed with a soft brush.
The rubber gasket located in the group head also needs to be brushed clean. This gasket may become worn over a period of time and will need to be replaced.
A good indication that this gasket needs replacement is when the porta-filter returns beyond its normal position or additional water leak out around the group head during the brewing process, even though the porta-filter is properly installed.
Periodic maintenance of the coffee maker
Daily maintenance of the grinder merely requires a thorough external cleaning with a damp towel. It is important to dispose of any unused ground coffee that is left in the door. The doser, burrs, and the grinding chamber should be cleaned with a brush every week. For best quality shots, grinder stones should be changed after every 400 to 500 pounds of beans.
Decalcification should be done periodically. The variation between time periods is dependent on the hardness of the water. Decalcifying is removing minerals (calcium or calcium deposits) from the inside of the boiler and the interconnecting tubing.