Celebrated chef Wolfgang Puck recently admitted that he considers his espresso machine his most favorite piece of equipment in his home kitchen. If an espresso machine is likewise one of your favorite pieces of culinary equipment, it’s important to keep the cups of espresso flowing from it the best in flavor and quality. But that can only happen if you are a good coffee custodian and clean your espresso machine on a regular basis. A dirty espresso machine adds impurities to your beverage that even the most expensive coffee beans in the world can’t mask.
The essential oils contained in coffee beans leave oils on various parts of your espresso machine, and these quickly become rancid, making the flavor of your espresso drink very bitter. Basic maintenance includes wiping off the shower screen and purging and wiping off your steam wand after every use and running a water shot through your machine after each brewing session.
Daily Cleansing Routine
On a daily basis you should back flush the machine with clean water, then rinse, wipe and dry the dispersion screen and gasket. The porta filter and basket should also be scrubbed clean, rinsed and wiped dry. It’s important to soak the steam wand in hot water and detergent for at least 15 minutes, checking to see if any milk has dried in the steam tip holes that needs to be removed.
Using a coffee detergent, back flush the machine according to the package directions to remove all oil residues that have built up over use. In a deep glass bowl, soak porta filters and filters for at least 30 minutes, then using a plastic scrubby, give these elements a thorough scrubbing, rinsing and drying. This is also the time to give the brass dispersion plate and shower screen a good soaking in detergent and subsequent scrubbing to remove all residue. It’s important to use a coffee detergent specifically designed for this cleaning purpose rather than a dish detergent which will leave its own residue in the machine that will affect espresso flavor.
Once a month, make sure that cartridges in your water filtration system are in working order and not adding undesireable tastes or flavors to your espresso. Because calcium escapes into your machine over time despite the best water filtration unit, it’s also essential to descale your espresso machine at least once a year.
No matter if you are using your espresso machine to make 100 shots or just one, knowing how to clean your espresso machine will extend the life of your unit and produce satisfying cup after cup of quality espresso.