There are a lot of different factors entering into the end result of your coffee.
The individuals or businesses who come up with the best results in their coffee brewing all share these traits in common: a strict adherence to the fine details of the brewing process, an openness to new ideas, and a willingness to experiment.
In our hurry to immediately master the perfect cup of coffee, we often overlook the fact that it can be precisely the openness to learning and improving as you go that produces the very best coffee.
So today we will focus on just one important aspect of the coffee brewing world: coffee machine cleaning.
For starters, any parts of the machine involved in making espresso should be clean as frequently as possible since oils and grinds can build up quickly and then find their way into your new coffee, compromising its freshness.
Below you will find a list of tips for making sure your machines lack of cleanliness is not affecting the flavour and freshness of your coffee.
Clean the machine’s filter basket
Take out and clean the machine’s filter basket, wiping inside the portafilter many times each day. Exactly how often is up to you, but the more you can the better.
Rinsing out the portafilter
Rinsing out the portafilter between each espresso shot may seem to be a good idea considering the point above, but this may actually bring about a messy workspace as a result of all the rinsing and dripping. Instead try wiping the basket clean and dry between shots, while rinsing periodically throughout the day when there is enough time for cleanup.
An idea to consider is use a cloth to wipe the shower screen before purging water through the grouphead after each shot. This makes for more consistent behaviour on the part of the water displacement which the shower screen is intended for.
Purge after every shot
That being said, make sure you always purge after every shot to get rid of any extra powder in the grouphead.
You can set up a volumetric button to do this so you can purge hands-free.
Clean your shower screens once a day
Also make sure you clean your shower screens once a day: remove (if you can), wipe, rinse, re-attach them and finally backflush with chemicals.
I will warn you, if this is your first time doing this you might be shocked at the mess that all this will create.
However it’s worth doing this unpleasant task every day since if will not take long for old coffee particles to build up and eventually make their way into your new coffee.
Or to make things easier some cafes keep extra shower screens around and swap them even in the middle of the day.
When you remove the shower screen to clean it, be careful not to lose the shower screen screw, and when you screw it back on don’t do it any harder than finger-tight (double-threading the screw is the last thing you want to do!).
Backflush with a chemical
You should also backflush with a chemical like Cafetto Commercial Espresso Clean at the end of each workday.
Or, if you have your own home machine with a three-way valve, use the backflush cleaner for your espresso machine once a week at the very least. If the chemicals getting into your coffee worries you, you can always use less of the chemical, but don’t forego the cleaning altogether.
Also please ensure that you reattach the shower screen before you backflush in order to keep from pushing any loose coffee particles back inside your grouphead’s water jets.
You also need to periodically purge your grinder.
Anytime you are switching to another type of coffee or finishing up a shift, it’s best to find some method of removing any coffee from inside the grinder’s chamber.
Our favorite method is a commercial vacuum, but you can find a more standard plunger-type device (something like the toilet- or drain-unclogging variety).
It’s best to remove any build up of coffee particles in the drip tray manually, by wiping them up rather than washing them down your drain. This method will decrease the chances of your drain clogging up in the midst of an epic coffee rush. It also helps to pour a jug of water down your drain each day to help clear out any build up of coffee particles.
You should also purge your groupheads completely once per day (use around a litre and a half of water for each one), in order to keep stale water away from your new coffee and make sure that only fresh stuff is being pumped through your espresso.
Proper cleaning is, of course, only part of the coffee brewing picture, but a clean environment is by all means a necessary if not sufficient factor for making great tasting coffee.
The more of the above principles you can adopt within your brewing process, the less your end result will be affected by the the variable of cleanliness and freshness.