Maintain My Machine
Many potential problems with your espresso machine can be avoided through proper care and maintenance. Cleanliness and a good maintenance routine will improve the life span of the machine as well as the quality of the coffee it makes.
By following a simple regimen (each time you finish using the machine, weekly, monthly and semi-annually,) you can be sure to get the most out of your machine.
After making espresso:
- If you're steaming milk, always purge the steam wand by flushing some steam through immediately after you’re done frothing the milk, then wipe the outside of the wand with a damp towel. When the tip of the wand is submerged in milk and you close the steam valve, it sucks a little bit of the milk into the wand. If you don’t purge it out, it will dry out and get crusty, potentially clogging the wand and obstructing the steam valve.
- Make sure there is no coffee left in the machine. Remove the portafilter, knock the puck out and wipe the inside of the basket with a dry towel. Use a flat-head screwdriver to pry the filter basket out of the portafilter and wipe the coffee residue from the underside of the basket and inside the portafilter. Run some hot water through it, and then replace the basket.
- Use the brew button to flush some water through the group head to remove any grounds that might be stuck to it. Use a Coffeetool or a damp towel to wipe off the dispersion screen (the screen where the water comes out and makes contact with the coffee) and the gasket that encircles the screen and creates a tight seal against the rim of the portafilter basket.
- Be sure that the drip tray is empty and clean. Use your damp towel to wipe up any loose grounds or coffee drops and to quickly clean off and polish the exterior of the espresso machine. Check and refill the water reservoir.
Weekly: Backflush Your Machine
NOTE: Be sure your machine has a 3-way solenoid valve before attempting to backflush. All of the machines we sell at Clive Coffee can be backflushed, but if you own a different machine you should check your user's manual before attempting to backflush.
Backflushing is a simple procedure that will dramatically improve your overall home espresso experience over the years you’ll own your machine. It's best to backflush your home espresso machine at least once a week or after 20-40 shots. All fine cafes will backflush with cleaning detergent at the end of every business day and often with clear water in the middle of the day. Once you get the hang of the process, it shouldn’t take more than about three minutes of your time.
- Place blind filter or backflush disk in your portafilter holder.
- Place about a quarter teaspoon of your espresso cleaner, such as Full Circle, or one tablet of Cafiza, into the blocked portafilter.
- Place the portafilter securely into the group.
- Move brew lever up or push brew button for about 10 seconds.
- Move brew lever down to depressurize the group. Detergent will vent into the drip tray.
- Wait 10 seconds, then repeat steps 4 & 5. Repeat cycle (10 seconds on, 10 seconds off) 5 times.
- Remove the portafilter, rinse off any remaining detergent, then repeat this entire process without detergent.
- Replace the blind basket with the regular basket, then make a shot of espresso and discard to season the grouphead.
- Remove the portafilter, move the brew lever up or push brew button and scrub the grouphead screen with a wet towel or grouphead brush.
Every Few Months: Descale
We recommend descaling your espresso machine on a preventative schedule. If you wait until you notice leaking from the steam wand or a drop in steam or boiler pressure, descaling alone might not solve the problem entirely. Perform the descaling procedure every 3-6 months or so, even if you’re not experiencing any problems.
Please note that vinegar and other home remedies are not strong enough to effectively remove scale buildup and may taint the flavor of your espresso. We recommend using Urnex Dezcal.
- With the machine warmed up and ready to go, dissolve a portion of the descaling detergent in about two cups of water and place in the water reservoir. Further dilute the solution until the reservoir is about half-full.
- Run water through the group head to fill the boiler with the descaling solution and allow the descaler to sit for 10-20 minutes.
- Drain the boiler through the steam wand with the pump switch engaged and let the newly introduced solution do its work inside the boiler.
- Repeat this cycle three to five times, or until a liter of solution has been run through.
- Refill your water reservoir with clear water and flush the boiler out a number of times through the group head and steam wand until the water runs clean and clear. Flush another full reservoir through for good measure.
Annually: Replace Your Group Gasket and Dispersion Screen
You should change the gasket in your espresso machine’s group head every year or so, along with the shower screen. Most cafes will switch out their gaskets, portafilter baskets and screens roughly every quarter. Home use doesn’t put so much wear on those parts, but an annual routine will ensure a well-functioning espresso machine.Different types of group heads have different methods for replacing gaskets. You'll find links with instructions below.