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How to Clean an Espresso Machine

May 6, 2024

Looking for an easy guide on how to clean an espresso machine effectively? Then you’re at the right place.

In this guide, we will be providing all the information you need to clean and maintain your espresso machine so that your drink will come out perfectly each time. Keep reading to learn more!

The Essentials of Espresso Machine Cleaning

how to clean an espresso machineRegular cleaning and descaling are critical to maintaining your espresso machine’s performance. Not only that but it will also ensure the longevity of the machine.

Neglecting to descale can lead to:

  • Limescale buildup, which can obstruct water lines

  • Poor quality of espresso shots

  • Increased energy usage

  • Damage to the machine

The Best Cleaner For Your Espresso Machine: ACTIVE Products

When it comes to cleaners, not all products are created equal.

Take ACTIVE Espresso Machine Cleaner Tablets and ACTIVE Coffee Machine Descaler Liquid, for example, they are specifically formulated to be effective and safe for these types of machines. Not only do they prevent mineral buildup but they are also much more effective compared to DIY methods such as vinegar.

What’s more, is that they’re convenient and easy to use. Here are some benefits of using ACTIVE Espresso Machine Cleaner:

  • They come as pre-measured tablets

  • They are compatible with all brands of machines

  • They won’t corrode machine parts and violate the manufacturer’s guidelines

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Use ACTIVE Tablets

active espresso cleaning tabletsThe process of using ACTIVE tablets is simple. Here’s how:

  1. Fill the espresso machine’s water tank with clean, filtered water

  2. For backflushing, place an ACTIVE cleaning tablet onto the blind filter basket or rubber cleaning disc in the portafilter

  3. Secure the portafilter into the group head

  4. Run the machine’s cleaning cycle or a brew cycle, pausing before water flows through

After the cleaning cycle, follow these steps to complete the cleaning process:

  1. Expel hot water through the steam wand for a few seconds repeatedly until all the water is used

  2. Rinse off and dry the portafilter and blind filter basket to remove any cleaning residue

  3. Disassemble the portafilter, remove the basket and spring

  4. Soak these components in a cleaning solution to remove any coffee oils and residue

Descaling Mastery with ACTIVE Descaler Liquid

ACTIVE Coffee Machine Descaler Liquid is specifically formulated for espresso makers and will effectively dissolve limescale without being corrosive to machine components.

In terms of how often to descale, it depends on machine usage and water hardness. Generally, however, it’s a good idea to descale at least once a year to every 3-6 months.

To use the ACTIVE cleaning liquid, prepare the descaling solution by measuring 4oz of ACTIVE Coffee Machine Descaler and adding it to the water reservoir filled to the maximum line.

Next, run a brewing cycle with the solution to fill the boiler and pipes, letting it sit to dissolve buildup. Flush the espresso machine thoroughly with clean water afterward.

Daily Maintenance for Your Espresso Machine

daily maintenance for your espresso machineDaily maintenance, such as cleaning the steam wand, purging, and wiping down the group head, is important when it comes to maintaining the machine’s longevity.

Regularly purge the steam wand before and after use to avoid milk proteins from building up and clogging the machine, which can also affect the flavor of your beverage.

Wiping down the group head daily will also prevent coffee residue buildup and ensure consistent espresso flavor.

After backflushing, thoroughly rinse all the group head components before reassembling them to prevent contamination of future espresso shots with cleaning products.

Keeping the draining hose clean will also prevent clogs or buildup that can disrupt the drainage from the drip tray.

The Role of a Clean Water Tank

Changing the water in the espresso machine’s water tank daily will ensure the water is fresh and will prevent dirty water from affecting the coffee.

Using filtered water will also prevent lime scale buildup, thus extending the espresso machine’s lifespan.

So, next time you refill your water tank, remember, it’s not just about filling it up; it’s about filling it with clean, fresh water.

Weekly Deep-Cleaning Techniques

While daily cleaning is important, you also want to maintain your espresso machine weekly to dissolve built-up espresso debris, oils, milk proteins, and mineral deposits.

Backflushing, for instance, is an important weekly cleaning routine.

weekly deep cleaning techniquesTo backflush an espresso machine, use a blank basket with ACTIVE Espresso Machine Cleaner Tablets, lock the portafilter in place, and run the group head in short cycles. This thorough cleaning process is crucial for internal line maintenance.

Removable parts, such as portafilters and filter baskets, should also be soaked in a heatproof container with a cleaning solution like ACTIVE Espresso Machine Cleaner Tablets, ensuring all oils from coffee grounds and residues are broken down.

Similarly, you want to clean the group head by disassembling it and scrubbing the head and gasket with a brush, before reassembling.

Cleaning the Steam Wand

It’s crucial to clean the steam wand after every use to prevent blocked apertures and maintain steam pressure.

The tip of the steam wand should be removed and soaked in a solution of warm water and detergent periodically, and the wand should be purged and wiped down after every use.

Specialized steam wand cleaners like Rinza are recommended for soaking the wand or tip to ensure it is thoroughly cleaned.

To prevent clogging and remove milk residue from the steam wand, soak it in warm water with some detergent. You can also use a damp cloth to wipe off residue.

Clearing Coffee Oils from the Brew Group

The brew group is another critical part of your espresso machine that requires attention. Flushing the group head before each round of espressos is essential to remove old coffee oils and grounds, preventing undesirable flavors in the espresso shots.

Regularly turning on the group for one to three seconds after pulling a shot will also help reduce the buildup of grounds and oil in the brew group.

To clean the inside of the brew group, follow these steps:

  1. Use a short-handled flathead screwdriver to remove the dispersion screw

  2. Remove the screen to access the gasket

  3. Scrub the group screen with a brush to remove coffee residue and leftover grounds

Monthly Espresso Machine Care

Descaling should be performed once every two months or more frequently in hard water areas or if you use the espresso machine frequently (e.g. such as in a coffee shop).

Regular descaling with genuine products like ACTIVE Coffee Machine Descaler Liquid is critical to prevent:

  • limescale buildup

  • clogged water lines

  • increased energy usage

  • risk of machine breakdown

Grinder Maintenance for Optimal Espresso

grinder maintenanceCleaning the grinder regularly is necessary to prevent oil buildup from espresso grounds, which can hinder the grinder’s ability to produce a consistent grind.

For a thorough clean, you can use coffee grinder cleaning tablets to eliminate coffee particles and oils that a basic brush out may miss.

In addition to cleaning, it’s also important to purge the grinder. Previous coffee beans should be spooned out and stored properly or purged by running the grinder before adding new beans to maintain the freshness of subsequent espresso shots.

Preventing Common Espresso Machine Problems

While regular cleaning can go a long way in ensuring the longevity and performance of your espresso machine, there are some common problems that every espresso machine owner should be aware of.

Some of these problems include:

  • Inconsistent brewing temperatures, which can be prevented by regular descaling

  • Limescale buildup within the machine, which can be removed through descaling

  • Mineral buildup and oily sludge, which can alter coffee flavor and the efficiency of the brew cycle

Neglected descaling can lead to full blockages, clogs, and premature wear of the machine’s parts, impacting its longevity and the taste of coffee. Reduced water flow can also affect espresso shot quality.

Specialty Cleaning Tools for Espresso Machines

As with any task, having the right tools can make all the difference.

When it comes to espresso machines, there are specialized brushes that you can use such as ones with stiff bristles and wooden handles.

For example, there are specialized brushes that you can use to clean portafilter baskets.

Detachable head brushes also allow you to clean various espresso machine components like group heads and portafilter baskets, catering to intricate cleaning needs.

If necessary, you can also get comprehensive espresso machine cleaning brush sets, which typically include different types of brushes such as grinder brushes, counter brushes, and group head brushes.

ACTIVE vs. Vinegar: A Comparative Analysis

active coffee machine descalerWhile vinegar is often touted as a natural cleaning solution, however, when it comes to espresso machines, it may not be the best choice.

For one thing, white vinegar can cause irreversible damage to the machine’s internal parts, such as the seals and rubber gaskets. Plus, the strong odors and flavors of vinegar can linger in an espresso machine, impacting the taste quality of the coffee.

On the other hand, ACTIVE Coffee Machine Descaler is formulated to effectively remove mineral buildup in coffee machines without leaving any residual taste or odor.

ACTIVE products are also recommended over vinegar for descaling and cleaning because they are specifically designed to be effective and safe for espresso machines.

Cleaning Your Espresso Machine

Taking care of your espresso machine doesn’t have to be a chore. With the right products, tools, and consistent cleaning routines, you can ensure that your machine performs optimally.

Remember, whether it’s daily maintenance, weekly deep-cleaning, or monthly care, every step you take towards maintaining your espresso machine is a step towards better-tasting espresso and a longer-lasting machine.

Key Takeaways

  • Consistent cleaning and descaling of espresso machines are essential for the taste of espresso, machine performance, and longevity

  • ACTIVE Espresso Machine Cleaner Tablets and ACTIVE Coffee Machine Descaler Liquid are the best options for cleaning espresso machines

  • Establishing regular maintenance routines for espresso machines, including daily, weekly, monthly, and on-demand cleaning tasks, is vital for preventing problems like inconsistent brewing temperatures, mineral and oily sludge buildup

How to Clean an Espresso Machine – FAQs

How do you clean an espresso machine at home?

Prepare a solution by dissolving a cleaning powder in water, then scrub the basket, portafilter, and group gasket with the solution using a nylon brush or a specialized group brush. Rinse the removable items with warm water.

How often should you clean your espresso machine?

You should clean your espresso machine every 2-4 weeks to maintain its performance and hygiene. Regular cleaning will ensure optimal functionality and a better-tasting brew.

Is it OK to descale an espresso machine with a vinegar solution?

It’s best not to use vinegar. Its natural acids do not react with scale and bacteria in the same way as a descaling solution would.

Using a descaling solution such as the one by ACTIVE is a much better option as it will remove limescale without damaging the machine’s working parts.

What are the benefits of using ACTIVE products for cleaning espresso machines?

ACTIVE products will effectively prevent and remove mineral buildup and will provide superior cleaning performance. They are also much more convenient than DIY methods.

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Lucas Bennett

Meet Lucas Bennett, a former coffee shop owner and current espresso aficionado. With years of hands-on experience in the coffee industry, Lucas now pours his expertise into writing comprehensive guides. His passion for coffee shines through in his meticulous tips on brewing the perfect cup and maintaining high-performing equipment. He takes pride in helping enthusiasts and novices alike elevate their coffee and espresso experiences.

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