How to Clean Your Espresso Machine

How to clean your home espresso machine: Backflushing and chemical cleaning

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Lately we’ve been thinking about ways to help our customers get the best tasting coffees at home. Obviously having great quality beans and storing them correctly are super important, as well as having a good grinder for your setup. But something that we’ve realised isn’t quite common knowledge (but definitely should be) is cleaning your espresso machine!

It doesn’t matter if you make a coffee on your machine every few days or 5 times a day, the oily residue and grinds will build up in your machine and start to change the taste of your coffees without you even realising. The inside of an espresso machine is made of many different pipes, chambers and sections that work together to pressurise the water through your grinds. If you give your machine a good clean once a week and a deep clean every few months, it will make all the difference.

Firstly, Backflushing should be done every time even if you only make ONE coffee. Your coffee will taste cleaner and it really only takes a minute to do. EASY.

Backflushing is the act of using the blind filter (a basket with no holes or sometimes a rubber plug that fits in your coffee basket – see the video below) to spray water and chemical back up into the group head to clean out any oily coffee leftovers. Backflushing can and should be done without any chemical after each coffee use and once a week with chemical.

What you need:

  1. Espresso Machine Cleaner
  2. About 1 minute for backflushing after making coffees before you turn off your machine
  3. About 10 minutes of time every 2-3 months (depending on how many coffees you drink)

What you do:

directions on how to clean your espresso machine

  1. Put 1 scoop of cleaner into the blind filter in the portafilter and insert into the group head
  2. Run machine for 5 x 10 second periods
  3. Remove the portafilter and use a brush to gently scrub the inside of the group head
  4. Rinse the portafilter with hot water from the machine
  5. Run the machine again for 5 x 10 second periods
  6. Make an espresso shot as you normally would
  7. Dispose of the espresso shot (do not drink)
  8. Taste the difference!

We’ve made a handy video which shows how to do this, so check it out below:

Video Transcript:

“Sometimes your coffees may taste a little bit dirty or a bit like dishwater. There’s a couple of things that you may be doing that you don’t realize. One of the most important things is cleaning your machine.

I’m Ryd from Coffee Beans Delivered. Today I’m going to show you how to clean your machine properly so that you get a crystal taste. Soaking and cleaning your machine with a chemical powder.

This is bought online for about $10 for 100 gram. It’ll last you probably a couple of years and what it does is it strips back all of the rancid oils that build up in your machine, back to the crystal-clear stainless steel.

So underneath here is the dispersion screen, this allows the water to flow through evenly, and if you haven’t cleaned this in a while, chances are, a lot of these little holes here are blocked up with rancid coffee and are not allowing your extraction to come through properly.

So we are using an Allen key, some use a Phillips head screwdriver, and you may have to use a bit of force depending on when you last took it apart. Once you see, it comes apart, and that’s the dispersion screen there, and the steel as well, so this is what we want to soak overnight.

Not anything that’s rubber, the chemical will actually deteriorate the rubber. But anything that’s stainless steel is what we want to soak overnight in the chemical.

We’re gonna get a tiny bit of the chemical powder, put it in a stainless steel jug, we’re gonna mix it with some boiling hot water. What you’ll see happen is it has a reaction with the water and it foams up, that is common, try not to get any on your hands ’cause it will actually deteriorate your skin slightly.

So we want to place parts of the coffee handle and the basket in there, fill it up with boiling hot water. It may take some time using your machine so you may want to use a kettle, but once that’s full, that will sit overnight and strip back all of the rancid oils.

It’s frothy, it’s now soaking overnight, you don’t want to put any of the plastic in there, because that will be deteriorated. Make sure it’s covering that and that’ll just sit overnight.

In the morning, you can just rinse that out, pour it in the sink, be careful not to lose the little screw that sits in there that holds it all together. But that’ll just rinse out, give it a scrub, and then before you use it to drink, maybe run one or two shots through it.

This needs to be done, maybe every two, three months, depending on how often you use it. If you use it a lot, you might need to do it a bit more.

Another thing that’s really important is that you backflush. This should be done pretty much once a week, depending on how frequently you use it.

Take a tiny scoop of the chemical, put it into what’s called a blind filter. Now if you don’t have a blind filter or know what it is, it is a solid basket so it doesn’t have any holes in it. Sometimes it may just be a plug that you get for your basket and you put the plug in the basket, just something to allow the pressure build up inside here so that when you stop the shot, it spurts the chemical back up into the jets.

Just pop it in, we run a short shot on it, let the pressure build up, once the pressure’s built up a bit, we can stop it. Hearing that spurt, that’s sending some of the chemical back into the chambers where the water comes through and catches any grinds in there.

We also want to do this a few times and also when the pressure’s built up, you can also pop it this way and then, you’ll see, it’s frothing up with chemical and the water reacting in there.

So do this four or five times and what you’ll notice is that over time, bits of grind will appear there. And you’ll want to keep doing that until there’s no more grind or coloured water coming out of the machine.

That’s how you clean your machine, it’s a really important process. I think it’s one of the things that a lot of home baristas overlook because they don’t really understand it.

If you got any other questions, please feel free to ask them in the comments below. I’m happy to answer as many questions as I can. I’m Ryd from Coffee Beans Delivered, good luck with your home barista skills.”

If you want to start getting better tasting coffee immediately, check out our Espresso Machine Cleaner available online.

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