Like anything else, deciding to become a home barista comes with its commitments and responsibilities…
And there is one basic rule: keep it clean.
There is a lot to be said for those who regularly, almost ritualistically, clean and dote upon their espresso machines. They are definitely on to something. Without regular, simple cleaning, you could be in for a lot of unnecessary spending as well as mediocre to bad tasting coffee beverages. The bottom line: cleaning an espresso machine regularly will keep the coffee flavoursome and save you a lot of time and money.
So, what should you be on the lookout for?
- Your coffee machine seems to be taking longer and longer to brew the coffee.
- Your coffee is beginning to taste burnt.
- Milk seems to be frothing at a painfully slow pace.
- People simply aren’t complimenting you, your wiz-bang coffee machine, or your coffee-making abilities anymore.
What you need to do.
Cleaning a coffee machine is simply not as daunting as it may appear or as complicated as it should be. Let’s face it, if you’re having any doubts call in an espresso machine repair service to get it back up to scratch. Professional coffee machine technicians or repairers should always be called upon for anything more serious than a general clean. However, if you commit to the title of home barista properly, and clean your coffee machine consistently, you won’t need to call in the professionals too often at all.
- Clean all removable drip trays in soapy, lukewarm water – only once removed. Do not put any soap directly into your machine. Rinse all soap off before replacing parts.
- Remove and clean milk wand with pipe cleaner and soapy water. Rinse soap off. Let off steam without actually frothing milk, to cleanse the wand internally.
- Remove any used ground coffee from group handle immediately after brewing. Rinse off the filter basket with warm water. Scrub portafilter and filter basket with a scourer if any brown-black residue is left behind. Do not use any soap.
- Wipe down your machine ‘shower-head’ with a clean damp cloth after every use. Again, no soap here.
- Be aware of the calcium levels of your tap water, using distilled water in your coffee machine if calcium levels are too high.
- Once-a-month use a recommended de-scaling liquid to de-calcify your coffee machine internally. Some espresso machinessuggest a de-scaling regime every six months. If unsure, ask the coffee machine retailer for advice. Follow instructions given on the bottle or packet carefully. Consult your coffee machine’s user manual if there is any doubt.
- Pull a cup without actually using any coffee and throw it out without drinking it or tasting it, immediately after de-scaling your machine. Repeat this once or twice to make sure all the toxic agents have been removed.
- If you are ever unsure as to the cleanliness levels of your machine, pull a cup without using any coffee and examine the water…would you/could you drink it? If the answer is no on both occasions, it’s definitely time for a clean.
- Shine the exterior chrome of your espresso machine as often as you like.
These steps may seem complicated and you may be a little shaky going through them for the first time. Once you get the hang of it, cleaning your coffee machine will become as simple as any other routine…and it will add years on to the life of your much loved morning-making device.