How to Clean An Espresso Machine

So many coffee machines can quickly get a steaming cup of joe in your hands. Espresso machines are the star of the show at your local coffee joint, serving up hot lattes, cappuccinos, americanos, and the list goes on. 

Espressos cater to those who love the strong flavor and boost of energy that coffee is known for. 

If you adore espressos as much as we do, chances are you own an espresso machine or are thinking of buying one. Espresso machines are a fast way to get this thick, flavorful drink in the comfort of your home.

What may not be simple is cleaning an espresso machine. This part can seem like a head-scratcher at first. So let’s find out how to clean your espresso machine like a pro!

What is Espresso?

Espresso was first created by a businessman named Luigi Bezzera in Venice, Italy, during the early 20th century. Frustrated by the time it took to make regular coffee, Bezzera experimented with different ways to brew coffee faster. Bezzera soon struck gold when he unintentionally created the espresso drink.

Differences Between Espresso and Coffee 

New coffee drinkers and even some seasoned ones often believe espresso and coffee are interchangeable terms, but we’re sorry to say this is not the case. They are entirely different concepts. 

Espresso is made with compressed finely ground coffee beans, forming an espresso’s “puck.” Next, high-pressure hot water is shot through the puck. The pressure and tightly packed coffee grounds combine and form espresso.

What makes espresso very unique is its versatility. Some of our favorite coffee drinks (lattes, cappuccinos, and mochas) use espresso as a base.

The Ins and Outs of an Espresso Machine

If you are not as familiar with an espresso machine, don’t worry. Here are a few essential parts to keep in mind before you start brewing:

  • Power Switch: Self-explanatory.
  • Shower Screen: A screen that evenly disperses water on the coffee puck.
  • Hot Water Valve: Dispenses hot water from the machine.
  • Group Head: The group head is where all the magic happens. It brings water out of the espresso machine and pours it into the filter basket.
  • Portafilter: The portafilter is a device that resembles a spoon. It is responsible for holding the coffee grounds while extracting the espresso shot. 
  • Steam Wand: Heats and froths your choice of milk. 
  • Reservoir: The reservoir holds the water poured into the espresso machine.
  • Pump: The pump takes the water from the reservoir and brings it to the group head.
  • Drip Tray: A tray under the group head. It’s responsible for catching spills.
  • Heat Exchanger/Boiler: A heat exchanger is saved for large, professional espresso machines. It is a filament that heats the water. Boilers are usually reserved for small espresso machines. Unlike the heat exchanger (which specifically raises the water’s temperature), a boiler regulates the water’s heat until it’s at the ideal temperature for the espresso.
How to clean an espresso machine

How to Clean Your Espresso Machine

An espresso machine should be cleaned every two to four weeks. The process of cleaning one requires time and patience. Yet, all of this effort will be worth it because you’ll get to drink fresh and delicious espresso!

Backflushing

Coffee oils and residue build up over time in your espresso machine. To clean it, you’ll have to backflush. Backflushing is the process of purging your machine of any built-up residue. For this task, you need a backflush filter (also known as a blind filter) and an espresso machine cleaner. 

Instructions:

  • Fully heat your machine. 
  • Insert your backflush disc into your portafilter. 
  • Add around 3 grams of espresso machine cleaner to the portafilter
  • Lock the portafilter into the group head.
  • Activate the brew switch and wait for 10 seconds. 
  • After the 10 seconds are finished, deactivate your brew switch. You’ll likely see soapy foam and liquid coming out of the group head. 
  • Repeat the previous two steps at least 5 times.
  • Take the portafilter out.
  • Pour out the soapy residue into the drip tray of your espresso machine. 
  • In order to rinse out the cleaner, you will have to flush the group head (in other words, activate the hot water valve to release water from the group head).
  • Activate the brew switch and wait for 10 seconds again. This time, you’ll only be using water to clean the espresso machine –– not the cleaning solution. 
  • Repeat this previous step 5 times. If there’s still soap coming out of the group head, continue this step until there is no soap left.
  • Remove the portafilter and flush the group head one more time.

Pro Tip: Some people like to make one shot of espresso to fully cleanse the espresso machine of any leftover cleaning solution. If you try this method, make sure to NOT drink the espresso since it may contain some of the harmful chemicals used to clean the espresso machine.

How to Descale Coffee Maker

Descaling is the process of removing mineral buildup in the espresso machine. Water can leave minerals behind when you’re brewing. When a machine gains a large amount of mineral content, it creates limescale buildup. Too much limescale can damage your espresso machine. 

So, how does descaling work? First, you’ll need an espresso machine descaling solution. These come in liquid and powder forms. If the instructions for your espresso machine specifically ask for one or the other, then use that. 

Instructions:

  • Heat up the espresso machine, then turn it off when the machine is at an optimal temperature.
  • Turn on the hot water valve. Let the water pour out of the group head and into a stainless steel mixing bowl. If you don’t have one, use another sturdy bowl. 
  • When all of the water has poured out of the machine, deactivate the hot water valve. 
  • Prepare the descaling solution by following the instructions provided with the liquid/powder. 
  • Add the descaling solution to the espresso machine’s water tank. 
  • Then turn the machine on. This will allow the machine’s pump to turn on and fill the heat exchanger or boiler with the descaling solution.
  • After the pump stops, turn on the brew switch until a liquid is discharged from the group head. This fills your machine’s heat exchanger with the descaling solution.
  • Insert a backflush disc into your portafilter, then lock it into place with the group head.
  • Activate the brew switch, wait 20 seconds, turn off the brew switch, and repeat. In the end, this step should be done a total of three times.
  • Now, wait for 20 minutes. This will give the descaling solution time to react with the heat exchanger/boiler.
  • After you’re finished waiting, release the portafilter from the group head.
  • Next, put an empty bowl under the group head and turn on the brew switch.
  • When all of the water has been dispensed, turn off the machine. 
  • Remove the espresso machine’s water tank. Rinse until it’s clean, then refill the water tank with fresh water.
  • Place the tank into the espresso machine and turn it on. Now the heat machine will refill with fresh water.
  • Once again, activate the brew switch, wait for 20 seconds, and turn off the brew switch three times.
  • To rinse the heat exchanger: Remove the portafilter. Leave a bowl under the group head. Activate the brew switch and let the water pour out for 1 minute.
  • To rinse the boiler: Switch the espresso machine off. Then turn on the hot water valve to drain the boiler. Turn off the hot water valve when the boiler is emptied. Refill the water tank, place it in the espresso machine, and turn the machine on. When it comes to operating pressure, turn the machine off and turn on the hot water valve to drain again. This step should be repeated 3-5 times.

Coffee With Amora

Now that was a lot to get through! Nevertheless, we hope you gain a better understanding of espresso coffee machines. Despite their intricacies, espresso machines provide a quick way to get one of the most delicious coffees in the world. Plus, you don’t need to spend your cash at a coffee shop when an espresso machine is waiting for you at home. 

If you plan on getting an espresso machine, you’ll need coffee to try it with. That’s where we come in. We offer the classic espresso taste and aroma with the Espresso Coffee Blend.

If you enjoy our products, consider getting an Amora subscription because you can get freshly roasted coffees delivered to your door every month.

Don’t forget to visit our Bean Blog for everything you need to know about coffee!


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