How to Correctly Care For Your Espresso Machine (Tips)

Last Updated on June 27, 2023 by Barry Gray

My espresso machine is something I feel I could never live without. So, it makes sense to ensure I care for it correctly to extend its operational lifespan without too many issues.

But here’s a question for you. 

Do you know how to correctly care for your espresso machine?

Caring for your espresso machine means several things, from having it professionally serviced annually to even daily tasks focused on cleaning, descaling, and checking to see if any parts need either repaired or replaced.

What you need to remember is that even a budget espresso machine is something that is finely tuned. Not caring for it correctly will eventually mean the machine is unable to pull that espresso at the correct pressure resulting in a poor drink in the end.

So, if you have perhaps just bought an espresso machine, or if you have no real idea as to how to care for it correctly, then the next few minutes will change that.

What I will do is take you through how I care for my own espresso machine to ensure it keeps on churning out that gorgeous coffee on a daily basis and without running into any real problems.

I promise it will be significantly easier to do than some people are perhaps aware.

cleaning espresso machine

What Happens If You Don’t Maintain Your Espresso Machine?

Before I dive into how to care for your espresso machine, let me describe what can happen if you fail to carry out this maintenance regularly.

Now, at this point, I’m not talking about a fully professional service, even though that should be done at different times. Instead, I’m talking more about what you can do on a daily or weekly basis and what happens to your espresso machine if you do not carry out these tasks.

A Build-Up of Coffee

The first issue is a build-up of coffee, and that’s never a good thing.

Old coffee will burn, go stale, and can taint your espresso and just slightly change the overall flavor.

That’s not a good thing, and this change in taste applies no matter the beans you have used to get your coffee. 

Coffee grains can get everywhere, and it’s amazing how easily it can do this, so you need to do even a basic clean and rinse through of your machine regularly to stop those coffee grains from building up and ruining everything.

But that’s not the only issue you may end up facing if you do not maintain your espresso machine.


If you live in a part of the world where there’s a need to descale, then not doing this will eventually lead to one thing: the calcification of the pipes.

Basically, that means the pipes will gradually become blocked, resulting in a loss of pressure, and who wants that sort of stuff in the water of their espresso?

That is why I will talk about the need to descale later. If you fail to do it, then don’t be surprised if you get to a point where you feel as if your espresso machine is only capable of working at a limited capacity.

Oil Residue

I love dark roast coffee beans, but they do come with their own particular problem: oil.

I know people don’t think too much about oil in coffee beans, but that’s the wrong approach when it comes to your espresso machine. There’s actually more oil in beans than people realize, and not cleaning your machine will lead to a build-up of oil residue, and that’s another problem you don’t want to have to contend with.

This old oil will lead to some of the residue being transferred into your new coffee, and as with the old grains, it will lead to some tainting of the flavor.

But also, it’s old oil. That’s just not going to be a nice experience, and it has the potential to ruin those amazing Brazilian coffee beans you just picked up.

There are other points I could discuss here. Still, I feel you will have a good enough idea of what could potentially go on with your espresso machine if you fail to care for it correctly.

So, how do you care for it? Well, it doesn’t always have to be a tricky or difficult task, as I’m about to show.

How I Care For My Espresso Machine After Every Use

espresso machine

I know the idea of having to do some type of maintenance after every single use sounds like a lot of work, but I know it helps keep my espresso machine in as good working order as possible.

First, I remove the tamped coffee. Surprisingly, this is not something that everyone does after every use, but that’s a bad thing. 

You do not want to leave that old coffee sitting anywhere, as it doesn’t take much for it to start changing those flavors. I’ve had coffee where this has happened, and it wouldn’t appear on my top 1000 list.

After knocking out the coffee, my next step is to deal with the portafilter.

Rinse the Portafilter

I mentioned earlier how oil is a bad thing for your espresso machine if it’s allowed to build over time. Rinsing your portafilter after every single use can reduce the chances of that happening, and it takes a matter of minutes to complete the task.

I’m not talking about an in-depth clean here with the portafilter. Instead, it’s just a rinse under some water.

Doing this regularly will make a massive difference to your machine and will keep your espresso tasting amazing.

Wiping the Filter Screen

Another thing I do is to give the filter screen a quick wipe after every use. Again, it just keeps oil and grains down to a minimum, and you can always go back and give things a better clean with less regular maintenance.

The Steam Wand

If I have used my steam wand, then it’s important I clean it every single time. It gets milk all over the steam wand, and you don’t want to allow that to harden. 

Let’s face it, that’s hardly the most hygienic of things. Also, it’s easy to keep on top of maintaining the steam wand.

I find simply wiping it clean to be the easiest method. If you do it immediately after using it, you can keep that steam wand clean without too many problems.

Of course, you can do a deeper clean, but I’m still only talking about what I do after each use, and there’s no need to do anything else at this point.

But here’s an essential point I need to make.

Please only use a soft cloth on your steam wand. Do not use anything that is abrasive, or you will damage the protective coating on the wand.

As long as you wipe it after each use, there’s no need to put in too much effort to get things clean.

How I Care For My Espresso Machine Each Month

cleaning coffee machine

I use my espresso machine daily, so I always feel safer carrying out certain maintenance tasks monthly to keep it in pristine condition.

A Blank Flush

This can also be known as a backflush. Still, it involves you effectively flushing out the machine by using it as you would to produce an espresso, but only using water.

This is a fantastic thing to do, as it allows you to use the machine to really clean itself and to flush out those oils and coffee grains.

So, how do you do it?

The first thing is to remove the portafilter from the machine. In its place, you need to put a blind filter.

This will allow you to basically ‘pull’ a shot of espresso, but as I said, you will only be using water.

After doing this, I then use an espresso cleaning agent, and I pull a few shots to allow the cleaner to really work its way through the entire machine.

Also, you then need to continue to pull a few blank shots to ensure the machine is thoroughly rinsed and there’s no cleaning agent left anywhere in the mechanisms of the espresso machine.

A Deep Clean

I then give my espresso machine a deep clean once a month, and the best way to do that is to use an espresso machine brush.

I scrub the portafilter and every component of the machine I can get my hands on. I also pay attention to the showerhead and check there are no grains of coffee left in there.

If I don’t deal with the showerhead, it often means small coffee grains are left behind, and that’s when you get that tainted coffee.


If you live in a part of the world where you need to descale, then I would do this every month.

Scale build-up will result in a drop in pressure and effectiveness with your espresso machine, and that’s not good. Over time, the calcification can lead to repairs being required or even parts being replaced.

Use a descaling agent specifically designed for an espresso machine. Run the machine several times to get the descaling agent to move through the machine, followed by rinsing it to clear everything away.

How I Care For My Espresso Machine Yearly

large espresso machine

Finally, as I use my espresso machine daily, I do take genuine care of it, and that involves getting a yearly service. Now, if you only use your machine sporadically, there’s no need to do it yearly.

I deal directly with the manufacturer and their recommendations for a yearly service. It means the machine is checked over, and the parts are examined to ensure everything is in perfect working order.

My Recap on How to Care for Your Espresso Machine

I’ve covered a number of important points on how to correctly care for your espresso machine, so here’s my recap on the key points you should focus on. 

  • You should rinse your espresso machine after every use
  • Rinse the portafilter
  • Remove the old coffee 
  • Wipe the steam wand if used to prevent the milk from hardening
  • Do a blank flush once a month
  • Rinse a cleaning agent through the machine once a month
  • Descale once a month, if required
  • Scrub all the parts you can once a month
  • If used regularly, have your espresso machine serviced once a year

If you do all of this, there’s no reason why your espresso machine will not last for years without running into too many problems.

My Conclusion

Caring for your espresso machine is essential, and as long as you follow the tips and points I’ve mentioned above, I don’t think you will run into too many issues.

This is not something you can simply gloss over from time to time. It’s essential you care for things correctly, or your espresso machine will start to go downhill, and who wants that to happen?

But look after it, and it will continue to produce that stunning espresso over and over again.