Have you recently invested in your first at-home espresso machine? Owning an espresso machine means you can enjoy this delicious beverage whenever the mood strikes without having to go out to a coffee shop. It can also be a more cost-effective option in the long run since you aren’t spending money at the café. Having said all that, there are a variety of tips to be aware of that will help you to clean, maintain and operate your espresso machine as intended. All of these will ensure that you can lengthen its lifespan and get the most functionality out of the machine.
Here we’ll take a look at a variety of tips meant for those who are new to owning one of these machines. We’ll discuss how you can clean and maintain your espresso machine, operating tips and even some ways you can elevate your espresso results.
How to Clean an Espresso Machine
One of the best ways to ensure your espresso machine lasts a long time is to clean and maintain it. This doesn't mean you clean it once every couple of months; instead, you take daily and weekly steps to keep up with its needs. There's also the fact that a clean espresso machine ensures the flavor stays true.
One of the most effective ways to clean your espresso machine is to use a deep cleaner product once a week. The Clean Express espresso machine cleaner is just such a product. It is a professional grade powder cleaner that can be placed right inside the porta-filter. You can then activate the brew cycle, let it run for about 20 seconds and then it will be clean.
These kinds of cleaning products are meant to get rid of any staining and residue left behind (coffee grinds). Not only will the machine look great, but it will also operate properly since it’s not getting clogged up by that leftover residue.
What About Descaling the Espresso Machine?
Another step you'll need to take is to descale the espresso machine. This means you're getting rid of all the scaling that builds up inside the machine. Scaling is caused by water that has a high level of minerals in it. You can cut down on the amount of scaling that happens by using distilled water. This is typically recommended as it will be much easier on the espresso machine over time.
You can purchase a water descaler product, pour it into the machine and allow it to sit for the specified amount of time. You'll then have to brew a cup by just running water through it. Be sure to flush the machine well so that all the descaler is gone.
How to Clean an Espresso Filter
Over continued use, you may find that your espresso filter gets clogged up. This is normal and to be expected if you're not cleaning it regularly. Leaving it in this condition means the machine has to work that much harder to force water through the filter, which can be hard on the motor and other components. Keeping the filter clean means your espresso will taste proper and the machine doesn’t need to overdo it.
One of the most common issues people can have is that grinds get stuck in the holes of the basket or filter. This typically happens over time, which is why frequent cleanings are required. As soon as you see grinds collecting, this is your indicator that it's time to clean the filter. In general, this means every 10 shots more or less. If you clean it after each shot, it will be faster and easier to maintain.
To clean the filter, just take it out of the machine, turn it upside down and lightly shake and tap it so all the grinds fall out. Now it's time to rinse it well and use a soft dry towel to wipe it. You also want to take the spouts out and then disassemble them. Each piece should be rinsed and wiped dry.
If the filter is still dirty and clogged, you can always soak the portafilter parts in a bowl or sink of warm water with gentle dish soap. One thing to note, however, is that you shouldn't submerge any parts that are rubber. The cleanser can damage these parts and affect their integrity.
Once you have soaked the parts, it’s time to rinse them, and then dry them off. It doesn't matter if you're cleaning the Sage Barista express coffee machine or some other brand; these steps tend to be universal.
How to Clean the Breville Coffee Maker Grinder - Or Any Model
If you've got the popular Breville espresso machine at home, then you're also lucky enough to have the grinder. This is meant to offer convenience and functionality, but just like all the rest of the parts, it will need regular cleaning. Sage Barista Express cleaning of the filter will also be similar to that of the Breville since it too has a built-in grinder.
Start by removing the hopper and empty it. Next, you can use a soft dry towel to give it a good wiping. For any burrs and grinds left behind, compressed air can blow it right through. Just be sure to place a towel over the top so that the grinds don't blow at you. Some people also find it helpful to use a vacuum to suck out the grinds.
There are also cleaning products meant to help push the grinds through the machine and clean it out, but these aren't necessary. As you can tell from the steps above, cleaning it manually is possible.
As for how often you should clean the grinder, if you do it regularly, then it will never have a chance to get bad. If you plan on using a professional cleaning product, this is only recommended once every couple of months.
Helpful Tips for Maintaining Your Espresso Machine
Besides cleaning your machine, there are other helpful tips you can use that will extend the machine’s lifespan. These tips include:
- Be sure to use clean cloths on the machine when wiping it down
- Clean the steam wand after each use
- A full backflush will be necessary every once in a while
- Use distilled water if possible
- Check to make sure all the parts are intact, and nothing is broken
- Listen for unusual sounds
- Have the machine serviced if it starts "acting up"
- Don't leave used pucks in the machine
All of these steps can seem like a lot of work, but they will pay off in that your machine will last much longer.
Moving Forward – Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Machine
Now that you've got the basics of cleaning a Sage barista coffee machine – or any other brand – under control, how about general tips for using your espresso machine? Because you are used to purchasing espressos at the coffee shop you may not be aware of all these extras.
Here are some essential tips you can use:
- Use fresh coffee beans. Old beans will taste stale and unpleasant.
- Store your coffee beans properly so they don't go stale too fast. Properly means in an airtight container, out of direct sunlight or artificial light and in a cool dry spot.
- Only grind as much as you will use at that moment. Pre-grinding your beans and then storing them will mean the flavor starts to degrade. At most you can grind two days’ worth of beans and store them like you would coffee beans.
- Make sure you’re purchasing high-quality coffee beans. Even the best espresso machine out there that is kept spotless won’t produce tasty beverages if the bean quality is poor.
- Try different types and brands of beans, as you never know when you’ll find a new favorite.
- Don't use hard water. As mentioned, this will cause scaling on the machine, and the coffee won’t taste as good.
- While it can be tempting to use fat-free milk, it typically doesn't offer the right kind of texture. It is the fat in the milk that creates that smooth, creamy, silky texture.
- Splurge on the perfect espresso cups and make the experience special.
Experiment with the Machine's Versatility
While the main purpose of your machine is to make espresso, that's not all it can do. Why not get to know the versatility of your machine and try some other concoctions? Other drinks that you can make using an espresso machine are:
- Latte macchiato
- Espresso macchiato
- Espresso romano
- Cafe latte
- Double or doppio
This could be a chance to get to know other hot beverages that are perfect for kicking off your day.
By taking all the necessary cleaning and maintenance steps, you’ll be able to extend the life of your espresso and get all you possibly can from it. Don’t be afraid to also try other drinks and step outside your level of comfort.