BLOG //
Jori Korhonen //
Helsinki
// 8.10.2019

How to clean your espresso machine?

There is a saying in Finnish “cleanliness is half of the meal”. I know it doesn’t make any sense in English but the message is important. Cleaning your espresso machine might the most boring part of being a barista but it is really important. You are not able to get great tasting espresso if you don't clean your espresso machine properly and daily! Let's check how to clean your espresso machine.

Daily cleaning

These things you should definitely do every after your café closes. If you are working in a high-volume café it might even be wise to do them during the sifts. 

Group head

There are lots of coffee oils and used coffee particles getting stuck into your group head when you are brewing espressos. There is almost no way to avoid this. That’s why it’s really important to wash your group heads every day. 

blind baskets
cleaning powder to group head
No need for more cleaning powder.

1.    Remove the portafilters from the group heads.
2.    Brush the group heads with cleaning brush to get rid of the used coffee particles that are stuck in the group head.
3.    Replace the portafilter’s brewing baskets with blind baskets.
4.    Dose one teaspoon of espresso machine cleaning powder (such as Puly) to the blind baskets.
5.    Insert the portafilters to the group heads.
6.    Put the water supply on as you would when making espresso and keep it on for 10 seconds.
7.    Wait 3 seconds and put the water supply on again.
8.    Continue doing this for 4 times (4 x 10sec with 3sec pauses).
9.    Remove the portafilters from the group heads and flush the cleaning powder away with water.
10.   Brush the group heads again just make sure that there is no coffee particles left.
11.    Insert the rinsed portafilters to the group heads again.
12.    Repeat the 4 x 10sec procedure.
13.    Remove the portafilters from the group heads and run some water from the group heads.
14.    After that you are done with the machine.

The first 4 x 10sec cycle is done to get rid of the coffee oils that have gotten stuck to the group head during the day. The second cycle rinses all the cleaning powder that might have been left in the group head.

Portafilters

simmering portafilter

After you have washed your espresso machine it is wise to wash your portafilters as well as there’s a lot of coffee oils in them after a busy day.
1.    Put the portafilters and baskets to a metal bowl or a sink.
2.    Dose one tablespoon of the espresso machine cleaning powder into the bowl or sink.
3.    Fill the bowl or sink with hot water so that all the metal parts of the portafilters are under water. Don’t sink the portafilters’ plastic handles under water as they might get corroded over time. 
4.    Let them simmer for about 10-15 minutes.
5.    Take the portafilters and baskets out of the water and wash them with hot water and a brush. 
6.    Put the baskets back to the portafilters and you can put the portafilters back to group head over night.

Steam wand

simmering steam wand
Really wet cloth will do!

Of course, you need to wipe the steam wand right after steaming so that the milk doesn’t burn to the wand. Burnt milk on the wand can easily fixed by simmering the wand with a very wet cloth for 10 minutes. After that the burnt milk should go away with just wiping. Don’t ever use anything metal to scrape the wand as it will ruin the wand’s coating and then the milk will burn to the wand even easier.

Group head shower screens

group head shower screens
There might different types of screws in the shower screen.

The shower screens are in the group head and their job is to shower the brewing water evenly to the coffee puck. The shower screens get dirty really fast as they are in contact with the coffee puck all day long. To wash them unscrew the screw that holding the shower screen. You will end up with three parts; shower screen, metal plate and the screw. Simmer those three in hot water and espresso machine cleaning powder for 10-15 minutes and just brush them after simmering. They will clean really easily if you do this every day but you will have harder time if you don’t do it regularly.

Grinder

espresso grinder cleaning pellets

Grinder burrs are in contact with coffee beans and the burrs need to be “rinsed” daily. It’s easy as you can use grinder burr cleaning “beans” (e.g. Grindz) that you just grind normally and they remove coffee oils that have gotten stuck to the burrs. This will take only 30 seconds and will keep your grinder in much better shape.

Weekly cleaning

Portafilter spouts

spouts in the portafilter

This came to me as a surprise few months back. I always thought that simmering portafilters every day would clean up the spouts as well but I was wrong. The portafilter spouts collect quite a bit of coffee oils and there can quite big build ups if you don’t unscrew them occasionally. Just unscrew them and sink them in hot water and espresso machine cleaning powder for 10-15 minutes. Brush them after simmering and screw them back to their place.

Grinder opening

opening espresso grinder
This is how to open Nuova Simonelli Mythos One grinder.

Even if you "rinse" your grinder daily with burr cleaning beans, you still need open up the grinder every once in a while. There is a lot coffee left-overs and the grinder might get stuck easily if you don't open it. A brush and wooden stick are handy tools to remove the coffee stuck in the grinder.

Make cleaning processes daily so that you can maintain high quality of your espresso. Remember that you are not able to make great tasting espresso with dirty machines!