How to Clean Espresso Coffee Makers

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A rancid, bitter cup of coffee is enough to start any morning off on a bad note, but if you don't clean your espresso machine properly, that's exactly what you'll get. Leftover coffee grounds trapped in the machine add a pungent flavor to the next drink that even the highest quality espresso can't mask. By thoroughly cleaning the machine after each drink and at the end of each day, you'll be able to enjoy that perfect coffee flavor that inspired you to get your own espresso machine in the first place.

Things You'll Need

  • Towels
  • Blank or "blind" filter
  • Backflush powder
  • Group head brush
  • Mildly abrasive sponge or scrubbing pad
  • Bucket or medium-sized bowl

After Every Drink

  • Turn the portafilter upside down and whack it firmly against a protected surface. The motion should dislodge the used espresso grounds from the filter in one piece. Throw the grounds away or save them for composting.

  • Rinse the portafilter in hot water to remove any leftover grounds. Shake to remove any excess water.

  • Dry the filter with a clean towel to remove any residue from the grounds that was not washed away.

  • Wipe loose coffee grounds from shower screen with a towel. Used grounds that stay on the screen will negatively affect the taste of your next espresso drink.

  • Blow a short burst of steam from the steaming wand. Thoroughly wipe off the wand with a wet towel to remove any milk residue.

After Multiple Uses

  • Replace the regular filter screen in your portafilter with a blank or "blind" filter. These filters lack the tiny holes most filters have. Sprinkle a small amount of backflush powder into the blank filter. (Specific measurements will vary according to the package instructions.) Position the portafilter into the group head and turn on the water. Because the blank filter does not allow the water to escape through the holes, the water and backflush powder are forced back into the machine for cleaning. Allow the water to run for one or two minutes. Remove the portafilter, rinse and repeat the process, this time without the powder. The second flush serves to rinse the cleaning solution from the machine.

  • Turn on the water and scrub the shower screen and group head with a group head brush. Use the corner of a dry towel to remove coffee grounds from the corners of the group head.

  • Wipe the steam wand thoroughly with a damp towel. Carefully remove any dried milk from the crevices of the wand tip.

  • Wipe the entire exterior of the espresso machine to remove stains and coffee grounds. Remove the drip pan and clean underneath.

  • Scour the portafilters with hot water and a slightly abrasive scrubbing pad. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp. of backflush powder into the bottom of a sanitizing bucket or medium-sized bowl. Place the clean group heads (handles up) in the bucket. Add hot water until the metal portion of the group heads are covered. Soak overnight.

Tips & Warnings

  • Backflushing is only necessary on espresso machines with a three-valve system. Omit this step for other machines.

References

  • Photo Credit Creative Crop/Digital Vision/Getty Images
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