So, you finally decided to bite the bullet and purchase your first espresso machine. An espresso machine can revolutionize the way you enjoy coffee and espresso beverages, making quick and easy work of even the fanciest of drinks. And because the machine is so versatile and such an important feature in the kitchen, you want to maintain it and make sure it lasts as long as possible.
There are several components and features in the espresso machine that will need attention and you may also be curious about products such as espresso machine cleaner and whether it's worth picking up. From the cleaner to the parts of a barista coffee machine you'll need to focus on, we've got you covered. Here are expert tips on cleaning, maintaining, and using your espresso machine - regardless of the make or model.
Why Do You Need to Clean Your Espresso Machine?
The fact that you need to clean your espresso machine regularly may come as a surprise to some, and this information alone may have you asking questions. Why is it so important to clean the espresso machine? Cleaning it regularly means you’re getting rid of debris and clogs that force the machine to work harder. Not only that, but the residue that is left behind and builds up will negatively affect the flavor of your espresso. If you want your beverages to taste delicious and full-bodied, then you need to be using a clean machine.
How Often Should You Clean the Machine?
Then there is the question of how often you should clean your espresso machine. Maybe you want to know when to use the espresso coffee machine cleaner you picked up, or when you should descale the espresso maker. The short and simple answer is that you should be cleaning your machine after each use.
As a general rule, it’s a good idea to do a small cleaning after each use. This means you're using a soft, clean towel to wipe surfaces down, throw away the puck and make sure there aren't any big clogs left in the machine. If you're curious as to how to clean the steam wand on your machine, simply dampen your cloth and wipe it down. If you allow milk to sit on the steam wand, it will harden and clog it up. There’s no need to wonder how to clean a steam wand; it couldn’t be any easier or faster with no special products or equipment needed.
In terms of deep cleaning, wherein you take the components apart and clean them individually, that should be done weekly. Then for the espresso coffee cleaner, ideally you want to use this every few months. This is meant to deep clean the machine including descaling it.
Are There Specific Instructions for Each Machine?
Cleaning the espresso machine should always start with you reading the user’s manual. In general, pretty much every make and model will be the same in terms of how you clean it and what products to use, but it’s still wise to read your owner’s manual.
The basic cleaning steps should be:
- Coffee grounds are known for getting stuck in the filter, so you want to start by unscrewing the basket and filter. These need to be emptied and rinsed. These parts should not go in the dishwasher, as it can ruin them. Simply run them under hot water and then lay them on a towel to air dry.
- Take a look at the seal where the filter and basket sit, do you see any built-up residue? A quick scrub or wiping with your towel will take care of it.
- Remove the sieve which looks like a screen. To clean the sieve, just flush hot water through it.
- Make sure you’ve remembered where each piece came from because now it’s time to put it back together.
- Clean the steam wand, as mentioned above just use a soft, clean damp cloth.
The goal of cleaning should be to ensure that there are no coffee grounds left behind, no matter how big or small they are. Using these steps daily means the machine never has a chance to get dirty. This is especially the case if you have a three head coffee machine. If you ignore regular cleanings, the deep cleaning of all heads will be very time-consuming.
But what about specific machines? Here we'll look at some of the most popular brands and make note of any special instructions:
How to clean Sage Barista Express: If you want to know how to clean the Sage coffee machine, watch for the "CLEAN ME" light to come on, which means you need to do a complete cleaning cycle. This is a deep cleaning that will include descaling. It's also smart to replace the water filter regularly, every three months, to help prevent scaling from building. The Sage Barista coffee machine cleaning is relatively straightforward; just stick to the owner’s manual. There’s no need to lose sleep on how to clean a Sage coffee machine.
How to Clean Delonghi Coffee Machine: Delonghi coffee machine cleaning doesn’t have to be confusing either. If you’ve asked how to clean my Delonghi espresso machine, the first tip is to refer to your owner’s manual. By doing this, you’ll find that it's recommended to clean it weekly but clean the milk system daily. The water filter should be replaced every two months, the brew group weekly, and then the pipes need descaling every four months.
Sunbeam Coffee Machine Cleaning: If you are looking at the coffee maker, then the cleaning steps are a little different. For example, it's wise to use four cups of white vinegar in the water reservoir and run it through to clean the machine. You'll also need to clean the filter basket and warming plate.
Breville Barista Touch Cleaning: There are regular cleaning steps, the flush-back which is the "CLEAN ME" cycle, descaling, the bean grinder and hopper, replacing the water filter and descaling that need to be done regularly. The fact that the machine will alert you when it needs to have a flush-back done is extremely convenient. Just be sure you get it done promptly once that light comes on.
You may also want to use the blind filter for a coffee machine. These are used on semi-automatic espresso machines during the backflushing process. The machine must have a pressure release mechanism to use this part. Again, it’s best to refer to your owner’s manual.
The Water You Use Will Help Keep It Clean
While none of the steps listed above should be skipped, you can make life easier by using specific types of water. Tap water is known for having a high mineral count which leads to scaling inside the machine. This will alter the flavor of your espresso and negatively impact how the machine works. Using distilled water is typically recommended.
Distilled water goes through a process in which the minerals and contaminants are removed, so it is purified. Basic purified water still contains some chemicals, minerals and contaminants in it. Many people complain about the taste of distilled water saying it is too flat or it doesn’t have any flavor to it, but remember, you’ll be using it to make espresso and other fabulous drinks in your machine, so flavor won’t be an issue.
You can typically find distilled water in any grocery store, but it will be more expensive than purified water. It’s wise to have a couple of bottles on hand at all times so you never run out.
What If the Flavor Still Isn't Great?
So, what if you're cleaning your espresso machine regularly, following the directions and using distilled water and the taste still isn't perfect? There are some common mistakes that newbies tend to make with their espresso machine that can result in less-than-ideal flavor. Here are a few things to be aware of.
- Make sure you're using high-quality coffee beans that have been stored properly (in a cool, dark, and dry space in an airtight container)
- Grind the beans fresh for each use
- Make sure the coffee beans haven't expired (once opened they tend to stay fresh for up to 14 days)
- Here are some of the mistakes you could be making:
- You're not using a medium-fine grind
- You aren't using the proper amount of grinds
- You are using low-fat milk - switch to 2%
- You’re not purging the water between espresso shots
- You're not doing a great or consistent job of tamping
- You're not using the right ratios
- Your shot pulling isn't uniform and consistent
As you can see, there are lots of things that could be tweaked, all of which can drastically improve the flavor of your espresso.
Know the Basics of Owning an Espresso Machine
It’s very exciting to invest in an espresso machine for the home. The fact that you’ll be able to make fabulous drinks at home and save money in the process is a win-win. With that said, knowing the basics of how to use and care for your machine is very important.