How to clean your coffee machine
There are thousands of different coffee machines on the market - all with different structures and parts. However, regardless of the model one thing remains uniform between them all, they should all be cleaned regularly.
When leftover coffee beans or grime builds up inside a machine, it will often affect the taste of the coffee that's produced. Many people blame this bitter flavour on the bean itself, but the solution can be as easy as giving the machine a vigorous clean.
To ensure that your espresso machine stays clean and that your coffee tastes the best it possibly can, there are periodic cleaning methods that you can undertake. While some parts may need a regular clean, others might only need an occasional clean.
Below we go into detail about how often specific parts should be cleaned, and how to do it.
After every use
Some parts of a coffee machine come into direct contact with grinds of coffee and coffee oils every time a beverage is made. These parts are a lot more susceptible to retaining the grimes and should be cleaned after every use to ensure no residue builds up.
The drip tray
Most coffee makers should know that the drip tray should be emptied and cleaned after every use. This tray accumulates drops of dirty water when coffee is made and will sit stagnant in the drip tray until it's emptied and cleaned.
Cleaning a drip tray is simple, just lift out the tray and empty out the contents. Then, wash the tray with a sponge, warm water and detergent.
Milk Frothing Wand
If you've ever smelt sour milk, you'll know just how imperative it is to clean the milk frothing wand after each use. After the milk is frothed, this steam wand is left with milk residue which has a tendency to go off quickly.
To ensure this doesn't happen, you should purge the wand first, to make sure it expels any leftover milk. Then, just wipe down the milk wand with a sponge, warm water and detergent after each use.
Coffee grounds are placed in the portafilter every time a coffee is made, and there are almost always leftover grounds and coffee oils left inside of it. So, to stop these grinds from accumulating and creating on off-taste, make sure that you clean it each time you make a coffee. To do so, empty out the filter and hold it under the group head as you run the pump to rinse off the grounds.
Weekly upkeep on a coffee machine is a good idea if you want to keep it running at it's full potential. While the 'every use' cleaning tips remove food items that can go bad, the weekly clean is more maintenance-related.
Wash and refill the water tank
Water can safely stay in a coffee machine for up to a week, but if there's any leftover water after a week, it's a good idea to replace the water so it doesn't go stale. While changing the water, you should give the tank a quick clean too. This simply requires using some warm, sudsy water (or a cleaning solution of your choice) and washing the tank quickly with a sponge.
Empty the knock box
Leftover coffee grounds can stay inside a coffee machine for a little while, without causing any issues. It can be a bit of a hassle to clean out the knock box every single time you make a coffee, and it's not necessary. Emptying out the knock box once a week is a good balance between convenience and hygiene.
Once a month has passed, it's probably time to clean out the entire machine to ensure no coffee oils or residues stick and causes any damage.
If your coffee machine has a clean cycle, then you're in luck! And you should run the machine through this once a month. If it doesn't have a cleaning cycle then you can achieve the same effect by conducting a backflush
Soak the filter basket
The filter basket in the portafilter should have a quick clean each time it's used as mentioned above. But, once a month it should have a rigorous clean. You can do this by removing the filter basket that's located in the portafilter, and soaking it in warm detergent for thirty minutes.
Scrub the shower screen
The shower screen in a coffee machine diffuses water, over time this may collect grime or become blocked, so it should be scrubbed every month. A quick and easy way to do this is with a toothbrush. Simply wet the toothbrush and use it to scrub around the screen and check that the water comes out smoothly afterwards. Some people like to use residual cleaning powder on the shower screen but this is a personal preference.
Once a year you should conduct a solid clean of your coffee machine to ensure that it's running properly and that its lifespan isn't compromised. For the annual clean you can take the below steps.
Descale the coffee machine
Descaling removes hard mineral build-ups that accumulate over time. It usually appears as chalky-looking deposits and often comes from 'hard' water.
Every coffee maker has a different process for descaling, so you should check your user manual about how to do the action on your model.
Soak the shower screen
While the shower screen should be getting a monthly scrub, it's a good idea to soak it once a year. A soak with ensures that all the build-up is completely removed. You can do this by removing the shower screen and leaving it in a pot of warm soapy water for thirty minutes.
Polish the machine
Over the course of a year, there's a good chance that your coffee machine has probably become a bit dirty-looking. While you're conducting an annual clean, you can polish the metal on the coffee machine to keep it looking great and shiny.
Clean grounds from burrs
If your espresso machine has an inbuilt grinder, it's very beneficial for you to occasionally clean the burrs so that they can continue to grind properly. To do so, simply brush the grounds off a burr once a year with a small brush.