An espresso machine for your home is a major investment that will bring years of delicious coffee to your home for everybody who enters. No machine, however, will be able to produce consistently delicious espresso without being maintained regularly and consistently. While machines differ in their functioning and maintenance needs, the overall principle is the same.
Your espresso machine must be professionally serviced once a year. This must be done in conjunction with a series of daily, weekly, and monthly tasks to ensure the machine performs optimally. These include backwashing, cleaning, descaling, and replacing parts.
Without proper maintenance, the flavor of your coffee may be off irrespective of the quality of the beans. The steamer may work inconsistently, and there may be blockages in the piping of the machine as a result of calcification.
Improper maintenance could result in your machine needing to be sent in for repairs, with the result that no espresso can be made for a while.
How To Care For Your Espresso Machine?
1. Coffee Machine Lifespan
Without proper maintenance, the lifespan of your espresso machine will be significantly reduced, and repairs will become expensive. Not only does the maintenance affect the functioning and longevity of your machine, but it makes a significant difference to the flavor of the coffee.
Because of the high amounts of oils in coffee and its tendency to leave residue, the flavors of old coffee previously made in the machine can start to seep into the coffee you make today, along with several other undesirable elements that contribute to a substandard coffee-drinking experience.
Most espresso machines have a lifespan of around eight to ten years. By conducting regular check-ups on the machine and replacing certain parts every year, you should successfully avoid corrective maintenance in the future.
A lack of maintenance can result in coffee that tastes terrible irrespective of the quality of the beans. Without properly maintaining your machine, the steamer may start to function inconsistently with blockages in the piping due to residue build-up.
Due to the water used in the espresso machine, calcium can build up rapidly, and this can start to cause blockages in the machine, necessitating expensive repairs and replacement of parts.
Naturally, if your machine has to undergo extensive repairs, it will be away from your home for several days – meaning no coffee for you and your family.
2. Maintenance Best Practices
In order to avoid the above, several practices should be employed as part of a regular routine for the care of your espresso machine. Some of these practices should be done every time you use your machine, while others are done once a day.
There are other aspects of maintenance that should be done weekly, monthly or yearly, and it’s important that you stick to these time intervals to ensure that your machine always performs at its best.
Caring For Your Espresso Machine With Every Use
There are several habits to adopt that should be part of your routine every single time you use your espresso machine. By ensuring you employ these habits, your machine will be fully ready for use the next time, and you won’t have to worry about old coffee grounds ruining the flavor of your current cuppa.
1. Knock out the espresso puck
Firstly, you should always knock out the espresso puck immediately after pulling a shot of espresso. Many people will leave this in until the next time they use the machine, but this has the potential to ruin your next espresso.
2. Clean your portafilter
The oils in the beans, as well as the coffee grounds, can become stuck to the filter screen as well as the portafilter basket. To avoid this, after removing the puck, rinse your entire portafilter under fresh water to ensure the filter screen is somewhat clean.
2. Wipe down the filter screen
Next, you should wipe down the filter screen as well as the portafilter using a clean, damp cloth.
3. Clean your steam wand after every use
If you made use of your machine’s steam wand, wipe it clean straight after use to ensure that the milk doesn’t have the chance to harden onto the wand’s surface, making it more challenging to clean it properly in the long run.
Ensure that you do not use any abrasive materials on your steam wand, as this will damage the coating, ultimately making it easier for milk to become stuck to its surface.
4. Purge your steam wand before and after every use
It’s also a good idea to purge the steam wand before and after every use to ensure that milk particles do not become stuck in the machine.
Once a month, you will need to perform a proper backflush. This essentially flushes out any coffee grounds and oils that may have become stuck in the machine’s valves in the course of the previous month.
- Firstly, you will need to remove the portafilter basket and replace it with a blind filter. Run the machine for 5 seconds as you would when pulling an espresso shot, and let it sit for ten seconds.
- Next, add an espresso machine cleaning agent to the portafilter and repeat the above process several times to ensure that all the old coffee, as well as the detergent, has been washed out thoroughly.
2. Portafilter and showerhead cleaning
- After backflushing, scrub the portafilter basket properly using an espresso machine brush.
- Next, de-grit the showerhead with a brush to prevent the build-up of coffee grinds that can give your espresso a bitter taste.
Descaling Your Espresso Machine
Irrespective of whether you are using filtered water or tap water in your espresso machine, calcium scale can build up inside the machine, negatively affecting the machine’s pressure and causing inconsistencies in your coffee.
The long-term build-up of calcium scale can result in blockages in your machine’s pipes that will become costly to repair.
Using a descaling agent designed for use in a home espresso machine, ensure that you pull a few shots afterward using fresh, clean water to ensure that there is no more of the descaling solution remaining.
How frequently this needs to be done depends on the machine itself, but it should ideally be performed every few months.
While the maintenance of your espresso machine is by far the least glamorous part of espresso-making (and drinking), it is an absolutely essential component of owning an espresso machine that will ensure you will always be able to make the best possible espresso at a moment’s notice.
By maintaining your machine and taking the best possible care of it, you will ensure the longevity of one of your most prized assets.