Updated: Dec 21, 2021
How to care for your espresso machine to make sure it’s always in top form.
Owning a coffee shop entails so much more than opening it to eye catching aesthetic, unique coffee names or remarkable ambience. Come dawn of the day, it all boils down to the condition of the equipment you use.
One key equipment that needs your attention is the espresso machine. For a piece of equipment that serves hundreds of your cups a day and determines the quality of your coffee, dedicating time to clean and maintain it is a no brainer.
Does it sound daunting? Fret not. Here, Bean & Barley quickly summarizes how to get the most out of your espresso machine through proper maintenance.
How Frequent Should I Clean My Espresso Machine?
In an article, Guerra explained that when well taken care of, espresso machines can last you from 8 to 10 years.
Ideally, maintenance must consist of a scheduled inspection to check your machine’s total condition regularly. You may also opt to replace some parts a year. You become a proactive coffee shop owner by taking time to notice the smaller parts that need replacement early on. It will also help if such a routine is infused into your barista’s training programme. They should clean as they work. It pays to help them build good habits. In doing so, you avoid that dreaded situation where your café will temporarily close to accommodate machine maintenance.
We suggest you do the following:
One must wipe down the steam wand every after use. Purging before use is also recommended to prevent unwanted and unsanitary build up of bacteria.
Before each round of espressos, one must flush the group head. What makes this particular tip helpful? Oil produced from coffee and residue grounds create a rather undesirable flavor to your shots.
Coffee beans are not the only ones you need to keep sanitized and fresh. Replace your cleaning cloths as much as 2 to 3 times a day. See to it that you use a non-toxic detergent.
Which habits should make-up my routine when cleaning the espresso machine?
We call it ‘habit’ for a good reason. The goal is to do it ideally on a frequent basis. Habits are bound to be repeated so much so that they will occur subconsciously to you. Before you call it a day, you would want to get into the habit of cleaning your machine promptly. We suggest to include the following steps in building your routine:
See to it that the portafilters, filter basket, and drip tray are cleansed thoroughly. We recommend that this be done at the end of each shift.
Are there any clogs in the draining hose? Checking this will help remove unwanted buildup of coffee grounds that could end up blocking the drain lines for the drip-tray.
How does your steam wand look? Clean it by removing the tip and allow it to sit in a mixture of warm water plus a coffee machine detergent for approximately 20 minutes.
Perform a full backflush. First, scrub the group heads with a machine brush to loosen and remove coffee ground residues. You may opt to use the machine detergent along with the blind filter.
Keep doing the fourth step until water coming out of the machine is clear. You can even pull a number of espresso shots to ensure no detergent flavors are present in future espressos.
To maintain your machine’s optimal condition, ensure cleanliness down to the last and minute details by emptying the bean hopper, store beans and knock box of used coffee grounds. Dust the coffee bar free of ground beans as well.
So what happens next? How do I ensure my machine maintains its shape in the long run?
There are two ways you can go about maintaining your espresso machine.
Every month or two, in order to prevent leaks between the portafilter and the group head, you can change the shower screens and the baskets. Keep in mind to consistently check the quality of your water. Conduct a periodic replacement of water filters to maintain water purity. Doing so ensures that these filters work efficiently at removing the contaminants or chemicals. You risk having your steam tank calcified if your water quality is mineral-heavy. In order to prevent this, we suggest you make it a point to schedule a regular machine decalcification with your equipment supplier or service provider. You can even have your baristas or other staff members dran the steam tank twice a year to keep your machine in top shape. Now that is dedication!
Every year, determine whether or not these parts are due for replacement before they turn into a massive headache and an unnecessary expense for you:
The steam and hot water valve or rings
Shoulder bolt shims
The expansion valve (this will prevent leaks and temperature loss in the tank)
The anti-suction valve
The brew actuator bearing
The waste pipe
The portafilter baskets (this may not be necessary, but take the time to check each year)
Yes, replacement seems rather expensive on the outlook. But when you take into account the prospect of closing your coffee shop to perform maintenance on your espresso machine, you save a lot more.
Are you hesitant on which cleaning products to use?
Before making an investment on your espresso machine, talk to your equipment provider or manufacturer. Squeeze out all the information you can get and ask for recommendations on ideal cleaning products.
Why does this matter? Using the wrong cleaning agent can do more harm than good on your machine by introducing build up and early deterioration. You can choose to go with commercially available cleaning tools and solutions.
As we have mentioned earlier, and we can’t emphasize this enough, set up your staff schedules and their training program to include espresso machine maintenance and daily cleaning habits. They are the key people in your cafe and it is their feedback that matters most when it comes to equipment performance. Keep tabs on the monthly and annual checks so that your scheduled machine maintenance or replacement does not easily pass you by.
Just like in any business, there is always the non-glamorous facet - one where you have to get dirty. The process of maintaining your espresso machine is one of such in the arena of coffee business. But then again, this is a part you simply can’t afford to skip. First, the machine. Second, the people. You build a loyal following around the tastiness of your espressos.
We’re sure you have more questions, and that's what we’re here for. Message us HERE anytime.
Guerra, G. (2021). How to Clean & Maintain Your Espresso Machine. Retrieved 12 April 2021, from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2018/11/how-to-clean-maintain-your-espresso-machine/