• 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

    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!

  • Cleaning Milk Systems

    If you're anything like us, ensuring that your milk steaming wand or siphon is clean is super important. Buildup and gunk in milk systems is one of the nastier things that can happen to an espresso machine. But never fear! It's easy and affordable to keep your steam system in tip-top shape. Let's take a look at how to maintain the milk system on a couple different types of espresso machines!


    Semi-automatic machines typically have a simple wand system for steaming. This is the type of machine where you hold a pitcher of milk up to the wand to heat it. Using a product like Urnex's Rinza is the easiest way to clean your steam wand, and can be used for panarello style wands as well.

    All you have to do to use Rinza is soak the wand itself for 20-30 minutes. If your machine allows it you can leave the wand attached, but make sure you're able to submerge the wand in the mix of Rinza and water.

    After soaking, rinse the wand and run steam through it to clear out any of the solution.


    Superautos are simpler to clean, but it can seem complicated because of their software systems. The best way you can maintain them is by using the specific cleaning agents that the manufacturer recommends. However, in a pinch, Rinza can work in superautos as well.

    Usually cleaning a superautomatic milk system is as simple as diluting the cleaning agent and using the prompts in your machine's menu to run a milk system cleaning cycle. For some machines, a specific button combination is needed to activate the cleaning process. As always, consult your machine's manual for the full rundown.

    In any case, we do recommend running a few rinse cycles before actually using the machine to fully rinse out any cleaning solution.

    So there you have it! Keeping your wand or milk system clean is a key thing for getting the most our of your machine. You should clean your steam system every month or two depending on use, and ALWAYS make sure to purge your steam want and rinse your siphon or carafe after every use!

  • Clearing Space: Where To Put It All?

    It's a constant struggle as a coffee fan, where do you put all of your supplies? How do you manage a machine, grinder, accessories, cups, the coffee itself... Sometimes it feels like too much! Here are some ideas for ways to keep down the clutter and manage your coffee making space, from grinders, to drip brewers, to espresso.

    General Tips

    The first thing we recommend is creating a dedicated space. This isn't possible for everyone, but whether it's a kitchen island, a space next to the sink, or the top of a shelf, it helps. Carving out a specific space for your coffee equipment helps cut down on mess and clutter. You also wont have to worry about finding your gear when it's time to get brewing. The biggest consideration in picking your space is access to power and water. This is especially important for an espresso brewer, where you'll need to provide both in steady supply.

    We also recommend dedicating some organizational space to your brewing space as well. This could be a drawer under the counter, a cabinet, or dedicated shelf space below your brewing area. Having a place to carefully and generally store your accessories next to, but without cluttering your brewing space is important.

    Finally, there's storing the coffee beans themselves. We recommend a solution like an Airscape or a Fellow Atmos. These canisters  vacuum seal your coffee, keeping it fresher for longer. It's also easier to scoop coffee from a canister than it is from a bag.


    For espresso setups, having a clear workflow from machine, to grinder, to tamp, to machine is key. You'll want a mat like a this one from Rocket Espresso, and to store your portafilter in your machine. Another tip is to keep a catch tray under your grinder. This way you'll be able to easily clean up any excess grounds and cut down on mess.

    Another big thing to keep in mind is your circuit. You'll want to make sure that running your grinder and espresso machine at once won't trip anything, otherwise you might be in for a longer wait for your morning coffee.

    Otherwise, keeping your grinder, portafilter, and machine close to each other and near needed power, water, and milk will be a huge help!

    Drip Brewing

    For drip brewing a lot of the same principals apply, but you'll also want to be able to carefully weigh out your grounds before brewing. If you're a fan of measuring volume instead of weight, you may want to keep a second storage container handy for excess ground coffee. Otherwise, you might miss your grind amounts and throw coffee out.

    Handy storage options for drip and pourover brewing include this filter holder, it's designed for V60 dripper filters, but can fit other filters as well.

    Keeping a grinder, whole and ground canisters, and filters close at hand should lead to an excellent cup of drip.

    There are other organization tips out there, but all of the above should get you started on curating a space for your brewing. This will help you to enjoy your morning cup with less prep and less cleanup, giving you more time to focus on the coffee!

  • Tune Up For What: Backflushing vs. Descaling

    Did you say you know a way to extend the life of an espresso machine? That’s music to our ears!

    Keeping up on your machine's maintenance means you’ll get a properly functioning machine making delicious coffee every time. Spencer and Jeremiah break down the difference between two popular maintenance procedures, descaling and backflushing, and why those methods of cleaning are important to keeping your machine running at full speed!

    Let’s start with some basics.

    Step 1. Preventative maintenance is the best kind of maintenance! Check your water hardness—which is the mineral content, particularly lime and calcium, in your water—and make sure you’re using soft water. You can check it by using water testing strips.

    Step 2. Read your manual on how to best care for your machine. Manufacturer’s recommendations vary from each other, so if you’re switching machines be sure to read up on their maintenance advice.


    Descaling removes the build up of minerals, such as lime and calcium, from water in your machine. A solution, such as Dezcal, will be mixed in through the tank and run through the pipes and boiler. The solutions are made from citric acid, so it's non-toxic when used properly to clean the machine.


    As we mentioned in step two, read the manual of your machine to see the recommended cleaning method. Some don’t recommend descaling, while others do but advise different solutions. We recommend descaling every one to three months depending on how often you run your machine. The more you use it, the more frequently you should descale!


    Backflushing is only done on semi-automatics that have a three-way solenoid valve. While descaling focuses on cleaning your water system, backflushing removes coffee oil build-up on the brew head. Removing oils will help the water flow through the brew head and improve the taste of the shot.

    Like we said, this is only done on machines with a three-way solenoid valve. We recommend backflushing more often than descaling. If you’re using the machine daily, we recommend every week.

    And remember, preventive maintenance is the best kind of maintenance! Read the cleaning section of your manual and figure out the best way to take care of your machine.

    Watch the full report on descaling and blackflushing below and subscribe to our YouTube channel to watch more helpful videos!

  • Crew Review: Jura Cleaning Products

    Jura Cleaning ProductsI clean. You clean. We all clean our Jura Machine! Thank you, thank you, I will show myself out now.

    If you can't tell already, I am here today to talk to you about the Jura cleaning products! Because we all know that dirty espresso machines make bad espresso, and we won't have that! All of Jura's machines conveniently use their cleaning products, which makes the cleaning process easy to handle.

    First up on the maintenance tasks is going to be replacing the water filter. It is best to do this every couple of months or more frequently if your water is particularly hard. To find the proper replacement all you need to do is match the color of the cap, either clearyl blue or white. You can learn more about this process in the Ask Gail video found here.

    You will also need to clean your milk frother regularly to insure freshly frothed milk and zero clogs! Using the Milk Frother Cleaning Liquid is easy, just dilute and soak your equipment overnight. The cleaner is designed to eat up all the milk proteins leaving you with a squeaky clean frothing system.

    Descaling is also something you will need to do in order to keep your machine in tip top shape. Scale is essentially a mineral build up, much like plaque in an artery. Using the Decal Tablets will rid your machine of the build up and add life to your machine.

    Watch the video below to learn more about how to use these products!



  • Tech Tip: How to Clean the Nuova Simonelli MDX Coffee Grinder

    Nuova Simonelli MDXCaring for your Nuova Simonelli MDX is an essential element of producing excellent espresso, and it's easier than you think! The MDX features a burr configuration that adjusts the bottom burr instead of the top during calibration, so cleaning it doesn't mean you'll need to completely dial in your grinder again. It also has a super simple method for removing the front doser chamber for cleaning, so you can also keep this area in tip-top condition.

    In addition to regularly running a product like Grindz through it, you should completely disassemble, clean and then reassemble the Nuova Simonelli MDX every so often to ensure optimal performance. The frequency of this is dictated a bit by how busy your cafe is -- many businesses do this weekly, while others do it monthly. You'll know which is the best schedule for your coffee shop once you start doing it regularly and can gauge how much coffee is building up in the burr chamber.

    Recommended tools include a vacuum of some sort and a firm-bristled brush, like the Grindminder; other than that, a little soap and water for the bean hopper and doser chamber keeps everything squeaky clean. For guidance on this procedure and tips on how to care for the grinder once you've taken it apart, watch Brandon's in depth video.

    Tech Tip: How to Clean the Nuova Simonelli MDX Coffee Grinder

  • Tech Tip: How to Clean the Mazzer Super Jolly Coffee Grinder

    Mazzer Super Jolly Coffee GrinderHave you ever walked into a coffee shop, seen a particularly grimy coffee grinder and wondered if you should stick around? We definitely have! Caring for your Mazzer Super Jolly has a variety of benefits, not the least of which is communicating to your customers your commitment to fresh and delicious coffee.

    We know that taking it apart and caring for each component can be a bit daunting, however, so we're here to guide you. Watch Brandon disassemble, clean and then reassemble the Mazzer Super Jolly, while also discussing with us common issues, best practices and considerations you should take into account when caring for your grinder. If your business moves swiftly, we highly recommend that you take this on at least once a month, if not weekly. Your grinder (and customers!) will thank you for it, later.


    Tech Tip: How to Clean the Mazzer Super Jolly Coffee Grinder

  • Tech Tip: How to Clean the Mazzer Mini Coffee Grinder

    Mazzer Mini ETaking sweet and loving care of your burr grinder is pretty much the best thing that you can do for it. After all, it really is the most important part of your coffee making setup! So we asked Gail to guide us through the process of taking apart, cleaning and putting back together several of the different grinders that we carry.

    First up in the series are the ever-popular Mazzer Mini models -- both the standard doser hopper version and the electronic doser version. While they manage dosage a bit differently, their internals are pretty much the same so you get to the burrs and care for them in the same way.

    Even if you're running Grindz through your beloved every month (like you know you should!), performing this thorough cleansing a few times each year will ensure that your grind remains consistent -- and also that you're grinding only the freshest of coffee.

    Ready to take this on yourself? Watch Gail break it down, clean it up and put it all back together again.

  • SCG Tech Tips: Saeco Superautomatic Brew Groups

    Saeco Superautomatic Brew GroupsThere are many things in life that have been attributed to such nebulous sources as 'science' or 'engineering' that are actually deeply rooted in magic. The chromatophores of cephalopods, gelatin-based foodstuffs, magnets -- these are just a few examples of magic being passed off as ordinary. It's unfortunate that their provenance isn't more keenly celebrated, but we understand why: It's far easier for people to get their head around these experiences if they disregard their obvious mojo.

    And while it's tempting to add the brew groups of Saeco Superautomatic Espresso Machines to this list, these are actually not operated by tiny magical beings inside your espresso machine; they truly are the result of some fine-tuned mechanical engineering. But don't take our word for it! Learn all about them with Brendan -- what they do, how they work, how to care for them, troubleshooting tips and more.

  • Cleancaf or Dezcal?

    Lime, calcium and other trace minerals exist in nearly every water supply, leaving behind white scaly deposits when the water has evaporated. Removing this scale on a regular basis is an essential component of any coffee maker or espresso machine maintenance regimen -- even if you have 'soft' water, there will be trace amounts left over time that can build-up and hinder your machine's performance.

    Some folks suggest using filtered or distilled water from the get-go, so that you don't risk pitting your boiler through repetitive use of the acid required to remove scale. That's certainly one tack to take, but we've found that we prefer the taste of espresso made with water that has some mineral content to it. Because of that, we descale our machines about every three months to ensure that no deposits build up and ultimately burn out the boiler.

    If you prefer minerals in your java as we do, there are a couple of products on the market that will help you keep your espresso machine or coffee maker in tip-top shape: Cleancaf or Dezcal. Which is better? Again, it depends on your preferences.

    Billed as a cleaner and descaler, Cleancaf combines descaling acid with a detergent that will also break down the oils left behind by coffee beans. It also features a blue dye that helps with thorough rinsing.

    Dezcal, on the other hand, is a straight-up descaler -- and an incredibly powerful one at that. While it doesn't have a detergent component, it's a much stronger product and removes more scale; also, it doesn't have a blue dye, which we think is a good thing.

    Of the two, we recommend Dezcal over Cleancaf, but we carry both of them so you can determine which product is right for you.

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