Super Automatic Espresso Machine Maintenance
Anyone who owns a car knows that you have to do specific maintenance on a regular basis to ensure the car lasts for several years. I keep the sticker in the windshield to remind me when my 3,000 miles are up, and it is time to change the oil again. Like a car, your super automatic espresso machine requires normal maintenance to perform its best. Here is a break down of simple ways to maintain a super automatic espresso machine:
Use Filtered Water:
Most of the espresso machines on the market today have a water filter. The water filter will help eliminate minerals like calcium and magnesium carbonate. Large amounts of these elements, often found in unfiltered tap and well water, can be damaging to the inside of an espresso machine. If your machine does not offer a water filter, you should filter the water prior to placing it inside your water reservoir.
Run a Rinse Cycle:
There are several ways to run a rinse cycle in your espresso machine:
Automatic Rinse Cycle:
Check the programming menu and see if you can set the machine to automatically run water through the brew group each time the machine is turned on. Doing a rinse cycle upon start up will flush the internal brew group with clean water and remove any left over coffee residue from inside. The rinsing will also clean out any left over coffee in the spout. Over time, coffee build up can cause weak water flow and restricted or slow shot time, resulting in a poor tasting beverage.
Manual Rinse Cycle:
If your machine does not have a programmable rinse cycle, you can do this manually; use the by pass-doser or ground coffee feature, press the brew button but do not insert coffee. This manual rinse results in a “blank” shot or plain water flowing through the system to clean out your machine.
Remove Brew Group & Rinse:
With my Gaggia machine, I’m able to access the brew group from inside the machine. If your machine does not have a removable brew group, a regular rinse cycle can help prolong the life of the machine. Each time the machine prompts me to clean out the spent coffee grounds, I remove the brew group. I bring the unit over to the sink and rinse it with plain water.
It is important to avoid soap or cleaner, as residue can remain on the unit and contaminate your coffee. Do not wipe this unit dry; it has grease in the gears which is needed to operate inside the machine. When rinsing you can rotate the unit back and forth to make sure all coffee is removed from internal screens. Once completed, allow the brew group to rest on a towel and dry prior to placing back in the machine.
Clean the Frothing Sleeve:
Each time you froth milk, make sure to run water through the steam wand when you’re done. Residual milk can get inside and once it hardens you will not have good steam output or taste. The frothing sleeve can be removed and rinsed in the sink also. Make sure you are careful to keep all the tiny gaskets to place the unit back together.
Descale your machine:
Your Espresso machine needs to be decalcified every 2 to 3 months. This is a very easy process. Check the menu of your machine and follow the prompts to go through cleaning cycle. You can also find specific instructions for your machine in the owner’s manual. It is very important to note that you need to use a food based cleaner. I use the Urnex cleancaf for my machine. The cleancaf is sold in a box of 3 applications and provides a six month supply.
Following these simple tasks will result in a long and healthy life of your espresso machine. It is common for well maintained machines to last a decade or more. With a little care and maintenance, you’ll be able to protect your investment and look forward to great coffee and espresso for years to come.