A Clean Espresso Machine: How and When to Clean

Espresso machines are indeed a gift from the beverage Gods, they provide us with a sweet treat that brings a kick and a punch to our morning routines. Depending on who uses the machine, how much product is produced per day, and what types of ingredients you’re putting through your espresso machine, the cleaning process is entirely dependent on this. Read further to learn when, how, and why to clean your espresso machine.

Why Clean Your Espresso Machine?

There are actually people who wonder why to clean an espresso machine. Cleaning an espresso machine is pivotal for the final taste of the product. For those who believe the myth that grinders are self-cleaning, unfortunately, we aren’t that lucky with espresso machines. Failure to clean grinders will result in tainted espresso that tastes worse than espresso made with hard water (and trust us, that’s pretty awful).

A disgusting flavor can develop over time from the uncleanliness and remnants of past cups. Different oils can accumulate and produce an awry taste because it may cling to the water screen of the machine. There’s also a filter left behind when it’s not cleaned, leaving deposits. When following a healthy cleaning schedule, you can eliminate this possibility.

One of the primary reasons you should clean your espresso machine is not just because of the taste, but because it can increase the longevity of the machine. Before we get into the step-by-step tutorial of how to clean your machine, you should know that after every use of the steam wand, you should wipe it down and run a water shot through post brewing.

Pro-tip: After every 15 shots, you should do a backflush of water and incorporate it into your cleaning regime, at least once a week.

Pro-tip #2: It’s a good idea to read the manual of your espresso machine before cleaning your machine as the manufacturer has most likely included instructions on how to clean your specific model.

How to Clean Your Espresso Machine

Before you begin your espresso machine cleaning, you should read through the materials and tutorial to make sure you have a firm grasp. Upon your second or third time reading through, you should begin the cleaning process. In doing so, you can ensure that you’re performing every step correctly, eliminating the potential risk of damage to the machine. Diving in too quick can be harmful to your machine and possibly break the coffee creating device.

What you’ll need:

  • Espresso machine cleaner (something like Cafiza or JoeGlo)
  • Blank portafilter
  • A rag or dish towel (Make sure it’s clean! No dirty rags.)
  • A scotch pad (cut this into 1-inch squares.)
  • A metal bowl that’s deep enough for the portafilter to soak in.

You may also want to look into additional tools including:

  • Group brush
  • A brush specifically for your steam wand (if you’re a very active user.)
  • Dairy cleanser

These are optional and aren’t required for a proper cleaning.

Step by step:

  1. First, you want to take your shower screen and wipe off the residue with your clean towel or dish rag.
  2. Take your portafilter, detergent for flushing, and basket and snap the blank porta basket into your portafilter. Reading the instructions for the detergent, add the proper amount that’s recommended for the brand you chose.
  3. Depending on the flush sequence of the detergent you’re using, this next step will depend entirely on this. However, for the sake of the tutorial, we will be using JoeGlo instructions. JoeGlo recommends running the pump at least five times for intervals of 15 seconds.
  4. As the pressure increases, the sound of the pump will have a higher pitch.
  5. Turning off your pump will open up a pathway and you will hear when the water is released through here.
  6. The pressure of this action will forcefully push the detergent through the screen and the valve. In doing so, the extra oils and residue will come off and immediately improve the taste of the espresso.
  7. You can also try the portafilter wiggle – This technique is used when you have flushed the cleanser, you loosen the filter holding it down, and engage the pump accordingly. The filter basket will rinse in water and cleanser until the water goes over the edge.
  8. Using the optional filter brush, you can remove any deposits from the gasket and scrub. You may also use a towel with a bit of flushing detergent to wipe down the grooves of the gasket.
  9. After all this is done, you want to take out the portafilter and the tray. There may be a few coffee particles and brownish coloring to the water. What you’re looking at are the spoiled oils and residue that’s making your coffee taste rancid.
  • Rinse the dip tray accordingly.
  • Place the dip tray back in and re-lock the portafilter into the machine. You should then repeat the process of flushing with regular water – nothing added.
  • Once you’ve run the clean water through, you can now wipe down the outside of the machine.

Pro-tip: If you notice there is still more brown residue after the first cleaning, repeat the same process (not the clean water process as noted after). Do this until there is no remaining residue.

Cleaning the steam wand:

  • Take your clean rag and get it wet.
  • Wipe the outside down.
  • If you have a brush for this, take your brush and clean the inside of the steam wand by unscrewing the tip and dipping the brush in.

It’s important to note that many chemicals are too toxic for this process, and there are only a few steam wand related products that can sufficiently and safely clean this. It’s recommended that products like Rinza are used, as they are made specifically for the wands. Water is obviously also fine in this instance. Once you’ve done all this, you’re able to put your espresso machine back together and get ready for delicious tasting espresso!