How To Clean Your Home Automatic Espresso Machine Properly
So finally, you bought your Espresso Coffee Machine, congratulations!
You have officially promoted yourself through the complex and rich world of the coffee subculture, and with this, you leave behind the days when coffee was just a drink to sip while reading the newspaper. Coffee drinking has evolved into a lifestyle, a way of “being”, the sense of belonging to an army of bean warriors that face everyday battles, mug in hand.
Be a dedicated Home Barista
Home Espresso Machines are flavor-producing replicas of the big Espresso machines we see in restaurants and coffee shops, and in the same way, the quality they deliver to coffee enthusiasts, they demand care and attention, for it is the blend of quality coffee and a well-working machine where the countless cups of coffee you will enjoy come from.
So, in order to maintain your “Barista Aficionado” newly acquired personality intact, pay attention to this summary of the key procedures and parts you need to observe to keep the performance of your Cappuccino Coffee Machine.
Discover where the Magic taste comes from
There are two kinds of Home Espresso Machines that will deliver great Cappuccino either by a coffee brewing automatic procedure – as easy as inserting a coffee pod and pushing a button - to packing a Portafilter with your favorite Honduran-grown Arabica beans.
Automatic machines like Nespresso’s “Vertuoline Evoluo” only need to remove some parts and pour water to clean the system, unlike the manual Espresso machines that have more moving pieces and parts with mechanisms that you must be acquainted with.
In his article, we’ll focus on how to give some demanded TLC to our Automatic Espresso Machines.
Create a cleaning habit for your machine
A poorly maintained Espresso Coffee Machine will turn your favorite beverage into a bitter liquid nightmare. Ground coffee leaves oily residues on its components and chemicals in the water create a hard surface that impairs the quality of the metal jug or the steam wand in some cases. So most manufacturers suggest an “after use” routine, a weekly cleanup routine and a quarterly thorough general cleanup to keep the quality and avoid further loss of taste and flavor; but we cover them, let’s run a quick checklist. Thanks to our friend, Barry Robinson from Boatgearable for pointing this idea!
Run a Pre-cleanup checklist
A swift browse through the internet will show you hundreds of homemade products to clean your Espresso Machine, such as citric acid or vinegar mixed with a quarter of a gallon of water, but it is always best to check the products recommend by the manufacturer.
For deeper cleanses, products like Water Descalers and Cleaning Tablets are recommended and are usually very easy to follow. Also, remember that some manufacturers will void a Guarantee if non-authorized products are used to clean the Espresso Machines, so it is always good to use them when you go all the way into cleaning your machine to keep it in tip top condition.
For all kinds of cleaning procedures you observe on your machine, you will need the following utensils and products:
• Espresso Machine descaler and other cleaning products
• Large 1Lt plastic container
• Liquid Detergent
• Clean towel cloths
The “After Use” cleanup routine
As a first step, washing the components after you use them, like the Milk Frother or the coffee capsules in the case your Espresso Machine comes has these features. This is a healthy habit to keep the machine performing in top conditions.
Take apart the seal on top of the lid of the frother as well as the whisks (if more than one) and gently wash them with water to avoid residues of recently frothed milk, to reassemble it back and ready for another cup.
Another important part to look after is the drip tray to avoid overfilling, and as for water containers, it is always better to wash them at the end of the day, if you use your machine all day long and never leave unused water from the day before.
Finally, run the machine cycle without coffee so the hot water cleanses away leftovers inside the machine and have it clean for next use.
The Weekly cleanup routine
Most manufacturers agree that a medium level cleaning procedure is needed and encouraged, at least one a week. This includes running water through the machine and run the cleaning cycle some auto machines are programmed to perform.
Some people recommend mixing water with either citric acid or vinegar and then running your normal coffee making cycle with this mix, but this process has the risk of the quality of the water you use when mixing the citric acid, so it is not the one we recommend the most since you could risk a faster buildup of residue that will require a tougher descaling on the quarterly cleanup routine.
Your machine’s manufacturer most likely can recommend products on their website that you can use for deeper cleanses.
The Quarterly Descaling cleanup routine
As we have seen, even tap water – to wash the machine - contains chemicals that impact the surface and integrity of the materials that make your machine run smoothly, so by using products recommended and suggested by your Espresso maker, you will effectively stop the wear and tear that comes with the use or abuse you give your machine. A major cleanup every 90 days will include descaling as the most important task can be broken down into four easy steps:
1. Fill half the water container with fresh water and add the recommended Descaling solution to the water container
2. Remove the drip tray and replace with a bigger plastic container. Run the machine’s Descaling cleaning cycle until complete as indicated by the Maker.
3. When the Descaling Cycle is complete, fill the water container with fresh drinking water to the top and run the machine’s Rinsing cycle until complete
4. After the Rinsing cycle is complete, fill the water container with fresh drinking water and start brewing more coffee as you normally would.
A few tips to remember
Remember, a good cappuccino is – like any other piece of art – the result of a process not known to all. A “Practice-until-perfection” attitude and a deep understanding of all the works fused on this art are necessary to keep the standard as high as the foam that crowns every cup you serve. Depending on the kind of machine you own cleaning procedures may vary, so always go to through the Owners’ Manual for detailed information.
Additionally, by knowing how your Cappuccino Machine works will also help you protect your investment, as Espresso machines are not cheap, but by keeping all its parts running in excellent condition, you will know where the extra money went you paid a bit more.