Under 2 hours
As a more concentrated form of coffee, espresso gives fans a bracing shot of flavor and caffeine. Compared to standard coffee makers, espresso machines have a more complex brewing process with more parts that can collect oils and residue and otherwise get dirty. If your espresso machine is overdue for a cleaning, the taste of your favorite drink can suffer.
This guide reviews how to clean an espresso machine and reviews the differences between daily maintenance, deep cleaning and regularly descaling the machine.
Parts of an Espresso Machine
Espresso machines force heated water under pressure through finely ground beans to create the bracing drink. To follow the instructions for cleaning an espresso maker, it’s helpful to know the specialized names of some of the machine’s key parts and accessories.
- Portafilter: The cup-like reservoir with a long handle.
- Basket: The removable disk or cup with tiny holes that holds ground espresso beans and fits in the portafilter. Comparable to the filter of a coffee maker.
- Blind basket: The basket with no holes, used for cleaning. Also called a blind disk.
- Group: Also called the group head, this is the round receptacle on the machine that releases hot water. The portafilter attaches to the group.
- Group gasket: A round rubber gasket on the group.
- Group screen: The fine mesh in the group through which the water is forced. Also called the shower screen.
- Carafe: The glass container that catches the brewed.
- Reservoir: The small tank for holding water to be used to brew espresso.
- Steam arm and nozzle: The tubes through which the steam is forced.
- Drip tray: The metal base or grate that supports the carafe as it catches the espresso.
Regular Maintenance of Espresso Machines
Professional espresso machines used at coffee houses need to be cleaned much more often than your kitchen appliance. Nevertheless, if you make a daily shot, these cleaning steps are recommended for espresso makers once a day.
- Knock the used espresso grounds from the basket after every shot and rinse it out.
- Wipe the basket with a dry cloth.
- Attach the portafilter to the group and rinse with fresh water for a few seconds.
Deep Cleaning an Espresso Machine
If you use your espresso maker on a daily basis, give your espresso maker a deep cleaning as often as once a week.
- Dissolve a small amount of espresso machine cleaner in water as directed to make a cleaning solution.
- Use a small nylon brush or a specialized group brush to scrub the basket, portafilter and group gasket with the cleaning solution. Scrub the removable items and rinse with warm water.
- Using a screwdriver if necessary, remove the screen from the group and scrub both sides, as well as the interior of the group.
- If recommended by the manual, backwash or backflush the unit by placing a blind basket in the portafilter and attaching it to the group. Put cleaning solution in the water reservoir. Run as directed, usually for several times at about 5 seconds each.
- Then remove the blind basket and rinse thoroughly with clean water.
- Sanitize the steam arm by flushing it with hot water and wiping it thoroughly.
- Remove and clean the drip tray.
- Wipe the exterior with a clean cloth or towel.
Tip: Some manufacturers recommend deep cleaning the espresso maker after a certain number of shots: check instructions for your model.
Descaling an Espresso Machine
If you don’t use distilled water and your tap water has a high mineral content, over time it can cause limescale buildup in your espresso maker. Descale your espresso machine at least once a year.
- Dissolve a water descaler in water to make a solution.
- Let the solution sit in the espresso maker for at least 20 minutes.
- Turn on the espresso maker and force a half cup of descaling solution through the portafilter and a quarter cup through the steam wand.
- Turn off the machine and let it sit another 20 minutes.
- Flush the rest of the solution through the machine.
- Finally, flush clean water through the machine to rinse out the descaler.
Reassemble and Test Your Espresso Machine
After cleaning and rinsing the components of your espresso machine, reassemble the device and make sure it works properly. Then feel free to enjoy a bracing shot of espresso.
Debris, oils from the espresso beans and mineral deposits can collect in espresso maker, so it’s crucial to keep it clean. A well-maintained espresso machine can hit you with its best shot.