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Our Newsletter


Posted on 22nd Aug 2011 @ 4:51 AM

An espresso machine in your home can give you years of enjoyment. Regular maintenance of your machine is vital. Why spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on an espresso machine and not invest a little money and time to keep it in perfect condition?

All espresso machines share the same basic approach to making coffee. They percolate hot water under pressure through tightly packed roasted ground coffee beans to extract the flavor some and fragrant brew known as ‘espresso coffee’.

This process leaves behind a ‘cake’ of used grounds that is easily disposed of. But some of these grounds will remain in the machine along with sticky coffee oils which will eventually block the filters and become rancid. The result will be bitter coffee lacking flavour and a steady reduction in the effectiveness and reliability of the machine. The solution is simple - regularly clean the machine.

Cleaning procedures for espresso machines will fall in to one of four categories. Compare your machine’s brewing unit and milk frothing systems to these listed here. This will tell you how to maintain your machine in perfect condition.

Removable brewing unit

The brewing unit is designed to be removed from the machine for cleaning. Remove the brewing unit and place in a sink of warm water. Clean the unit of coffee oils and grounds, particularly the filters. Never place the coffee machine in the sink - only the removable brewing unit - and never clean the brewing unit in a dishwasher. Use sink dishwashing detergent and always rinse the unit thoroughly.

Fixed brewing unit with no cleaning cycle

The brewing unit cannot be removed and cannot be easily cleaned. Cafetto® Espresso clean at home is designed to thoroughly clean the coffee oils from the machine. Add one measuring capful to the water tank and flush through the machine’s coffee and milk systems. Then rinse the water tank, refill and completely flush through the machine to rinse before use.

Fixed brewing unit with a cleaning cycle

This type of machine has a brewing unit that cannot be removed but the machine has a programmed cleaning cycle. Cafetto® Espresso Machine Cleaning Tablets are designed for these machines. To clean, activate the cleaning cycle and follow the display instructions. Always use the Cafetto® Espresso Machine Cleaning Tablet designed for your machine. Never use dishwasher cleaning tablets! The use of incorrect cleaning tablets can corrode the machine, damage the brewing unit and leave chemical residue in the machine.

3-way valve machines

This is the system used in the professional machines you will see in a café. Use a scoop of Cafetto® Espresso Clean® or Evo® placing in a ‘blindfilter’ (a removable filter without holes) within the group handle. The cleaning process in this type of machine allows for thorough cleaning and rinsing of the brewing unit.

Cleaning the milk system

Just as there are different cleaning approaches for the four types of coffee brewing units, there are different cleaning approaches to the four types of milk frothing systems. Milk is a food very susceptible to bacterial spoilage and so great care should be taken to keep the milk system of the espresso machine in spotless condition, or you may get poor froth, bad tasting coffee or cause illness.

Steam or milk frothing wand

This is a pipe coming from the machine used to manually froth milk by forcing steam through the milk. These are best cleaned externally by wiping thoroughly with a clean damp cloth directly after use. If the wand has not been cleaned and therefore has caked on milk deposits, soak the wand in a jug with clean, hot water until the deposits are soft and wipe clean. Never soak the wand with chemicals - they can be drawn back up into the machine. A tip - never over-froth the milk by exhausting the machine’s steam capacity since this can lead to milk being drawn back up into the machine.

Steam wand and froth enhancer

Froth enhancers are devices attached to the steam wand to help make richer froth when manually steaming milk. To clean the froth enhancer, remove and thoroughly clean in hot water ensuring all milk deposits are removed before replacing on the cleaned steam wand.

Internal milk frothing units

These are automatic frothing devices designed to draw milk up a tube and dispense froth. Internal milk frothing units cannot readily be removed from the espresso machine for cleaning. After you have finished making coffees, flush the milk frothing unit with Cafetto® Milk Frother Cleaner or Milk Frother Sanitising Cleaner and then rinse with fresh water.

External milk frothing units

These are devices that can be removed from the espresso machine for cleaning. Take theunit apart, clean thoroughly in fresh water, dry and re-assemble. This should be done every time you have finished using the machine. Do not put these units in the dishwasher. Alternatively, clean by flushing the unit with Cafetto® Milk Frother Cleaner or Milk Frother Sanitising Cleaner and then rinse with fresh water.


Descaling the machine

In addition to roasted ground coffee and milk, espresso has one other ingredient - water. But water is not just water. The white crust you see in your kettle is hard water scale which is caused by the heating of water that contains calcium and magnesium ions. All tap water and mineral water contain these ions and they cannot be removed by filtration. They are perfectly safe to drink,however the problem is they cause scale to build up in both the coffee brewing unit and the milk frothing system - the areas of the machine where the water is heated.

This scale reduces the efficiency of the machine by blocking the pipes, tubes and filters. It is important to recognise that coffee machine cleaners will not remove hard water scale.

The solution is to descale (or de-calcify) your machine regularly. Descaling your espresso machine will remove hard water scale from both the coffee brewing unit and milk frothing system keeping it working properly.

The level of hard water scale in your machine depends on the hardness of the water you use and frequency you use your machine. Use Cafetto® Water Hardness test strips to determine how often you should descale your machine. As a rule of thumb do it every 4 to 6 months.

Use Cafetto® Restore Espresso Machine Descaler or Descaling Tablets specially designed to safely remove hard water scale without corrosion of the machine. Follow the machine and product instructions for use.