Daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly maintenance checks for your machine. Yes I did mean and not or!
With any automatic machinery it is easy to overlook the regular maintenance, easy to take advantage of its easiness. However, it is an error of judgement not to do all the regular checks listed above.
It may be easier to break it down periodically
- Just cleaning it after use will be a good starting point
- Get rid of the dregs and rinse the drip tray
- Take the milk wand apart and clean and dry it thoroughly
- For automated milk frothing, take that apart and clean all parts
- Rinse cycle; wipe down the brewing sprouts or more thoroughly put the rinse cycle on
- Wipe everything down with a soft damp cloth
- For a removable brew group, remove it and spray it down with very hot water
- Remove the dregs/drip tray and the water reservoir for complete cleaning with mild detergent
- Scrub inside the machine with a soaped sponge and wipe it clean with water
- Use a milk cleaning solution for deep cleaning of any milk processing parts including hoses, carafes, spouts and wands
- Remove the beans from the hopper wipe it down with a gentle food sterilizing solution to remove any rancid coffee oils
- Using a safe food sterilizing solution wipe the machine down so that it looks as good as new
Monthly check up
At the same time as above, every 4 weeks also look out for any wear and tear.
- Check the O-rings, seals, brew screens and replace any parts that look worn
- For a removable brew group you can take it out and clean it or place on the top rack of the dishwasher
- If it is not removable clean it by running the brew unit cleaning cycle
- If you have hard water, descale it during this check up
If you do not find it necessary to descale your machine every month, then it should be done quarterly
Annually you can get your machine cleaned and serviced. A technician can check for less obvious wear and tear and take the machine apart for deeper cleaning. Some parts are hard to reach, the burrs can be cleaned and the whole thing can be descaled.
They will tell you if it needs any further servicing or new parts.
Cleaning products and kits
Some manufacturers can supply you with a complete cleaning kit. There are specialist detergents, descalers and milk cleaning solutions on the market. Again most manufacturers will have their own ideas on recommended products so check your instruction manual.
How to backflush a 3 way over pressure valve espresso machine
Whilst commercial machines need to be thoroughly cleaned every day a machine for home use can be done weekly with water. After 200 shots it can be done with a specialist cleaning solution.
Check your manual to find out if your machine can be cleaned in this way because only 3-way over pressure valve machines can be backflushed.
This type of valve is designed to limit the overall pressure used for extraction; it helps to avoid puck problems and makes it easier to remove it from the porta filter.
With this type of valve there is less chance of the machine becoming damaged by choking up with fine coffee grounds as it will be released through the valve.
Here is how to backflush;
- Switch it on and wait for brewing temperature
- Fill with fresh filtered water
- Make sure the drip tray is empty
- Find the blind filter inside the porta-filter
- If you are using cleaning detergent now is the time to measure it and put it into the filter
- Insert the filter as if you were making a coffee
- Check your manual to set the cleaning cycle
- The pump will start an on/off cycle
- This forces hot water into the filter at the same time as dissolving the detergent
- Gradually the detergent will be flushed back through the pressure valve, cleaning as it goes
- Take out the porta-filter and see if all the chemical solution has been used
- If not you may need to perform the cycle again until it is all dissolved
- Rinse it thoroughly and then it is ready to use for espresso once again
It goes without saying to check your instruction manual for cleaning methods.
If you would like help with choosing the ultimate espresso machine take a look at Espresso Gusto’s website for inspiration.