Why You Should Clean and Maintain Your Machine
For some, regular cleaning and maintenance is a no brainer, for others it’s a necessary chore. Unfortunately, some users don’t understand the danger in not cleaning and maintaining their machines properly. If that sounds like you or someone you know, read on to learn what can happen if you don’t keep your machine in good condition.
Basic cleaning is a no brainer. If you don’t regularly backflush your espresso machine, rinse and wash your coffee pot, or run your superauto’s cleaning sequence, you could see mold develop. While not necessarily deadly, it’s gross! We see this most commonly in the drip trays and waste bins of superautos, where moisture can combine with coffee grounds to stick to plastic. The easy remedy is to take an extra moment to rinse and wipe down your waste bin and drip tray after emptying.
It’s also important to avoid the use of oily beans in your superauto, as this can cause your grinder’s motor to clog and seize. On a standalone grinder, you should open it up every 3-6 months (depending on use) to clean out the burrs.
Finally, there’s the dreaded milk steamer clog. On semi-autos, keeping milk gunk from clogging your steam wand is as easy as remembering to purge after each use. You should also disassemble and clean the wand from time to time to prevent limescale buildup. In superauto milk systems be sure to follow the cleaning guidelines in your manual. Failing to maintain your milk system can lead to very disgusting buildup of coagulated milk gunk. Nobody wants that!
Descaling is a very important part of maintaining your machine, but for a different reason. As water passes through your machine, it leaves trace amounts of minerals behind. This causes limescale buildup that can be a lot more nasty than it sounds. We don’t want to make you look at it here, but just search for some images of limescale buildup on espresso machines, but maybe take a deep breath first. While that kind of buildup is perhaps not as impactful as mold or dairy gunk, it still affects the taste of your coffee.
By using filtered water and regularly descaling, you really will notice a taste difference. You aren’t getting harsh mineral flavors, and instead are getting every bit of flavor from the beans in particular. Just make sure you follow manufacturer guidelines for descaling as some machines require a professional to do it effectively. E61 machines, for example, have group heads that can be damaged beyond repair if you don’t have a technician handle the descaling for you. As noted, if you use filtered water, either from a pitcher or preferably from an in tank filter, you extend the time between needed descalings!
The biggest takeaway here should be this: Clean coffee equipment brews better coffee. We are constantly finding the best ways to extract precise flavors from our coffee, so you definitely don’t want a dirty machine imparting a bad taste. Keep your equipment clean and it will keep you happy with delicious brews over and over again!