Espresso Machine Cleaning Digest

Need help with equipment usage or want to share your latest discovery?
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tmaynard

#1: Post by tmaynard »

Okay, we've all read Espresso Machine Cleaning - Why, How, and When and the Article Comment forum pages -- I just reread them both, and searched for "cleaning" and read all relevant hits. Dan has already said (elsewhere), "Ask 5 home baristas about their cleaning schedule and you'll get 10 different answers." (I have paraphrased his actual comment. :) )

At the risk of dead-horse-beating, I'd like to pin this down definitively. Nota Bene: my machine (Gaggia Coffee) does not have a 3-way valve. At the risk of incensing everyone else here, I have omitted references to backflushing (with or without chemicals). If you backflush, feel free to post a revised regimen with BF included! My feelings will not be hurt, I promise.

Here's my distillation of the cleaning page ("PF+B" = Portafilter and Basket):

Between shots
* Dump puck, wipe PF+B
* Flush group (with PF+B inserted? Or once without, once with?? There are good arguments for both sides.)
* PF Wiggle (note to self: buy a blind basket, 58mm -- or possibly a dedicated wiggling PF+BB [blind basket])
* Scrub PF+B (Scotch Brite seems the preferred tool) and dry

Hourly (could also be Between Shots, depending on your OCD level)
* Brush shower screen and gasket

Daily (would include the preceding, after your last shot of the day, adjusting as required)
* Brush/wipe shower screen, gasket
* Rinse, scrub, wipe PF+B
* Purge steam wand (whether used or not?)

Weekly
* Soak PF+B in chemical solution
* Disassemble group, soak in same

Monthly (does not apply to me, I use store-bought water)
* Check your water filters

Yearly
* Descale (depends on your water, I presume)

Alrighty then, this describes a regimen that you could follow whether you pull 1 or 10 shots a day. How have I misinterpreted the available data? And how widely does your own regimen diverge from this "standard?"

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Psyd

#2: Post by Psyd »

HMMmmmm. Some of that seems a bit much...

I pull my shot and then rinse the PF before I pull another, using a different basket. If I'm going to pull more than a pair of doubles, I'll use both groups, if no, I'll use the one I didn't use the previous occasion.

Post last pull of the session:
Knock the puck out.
Wipe and clear the steam wand (if used).
Rinse the PF and basket.
Flush the group.
Rinse the group with a PF wiggle.
Wash the PF, basket, and frothing cup without soap.
Wipe the baskets down and place on the cup heater.
Wipe the PF down and place in the group.
Wipe the steam pitcher and put it in the freezer.

Once a week I backflush each group thoroughly, more often if I have heavy use.
Once a quarter I completely clean the machine, backflushing with chemicals and soaking the PF's and all the baskets, scrubbing and soaking the grouphead.

Once a year I remove the shower screens and disassemble the group and clean and soak everything.
Of course, anytime it looks like it needs it, I may jump the schedule.
Most won't believe it, but the PF'a nd baskets look clean when I soak them in Cafiza, but I do it anyways. The grouphead doesn't seem to be too much cleaner when I use the Cafiza either, as it seems to stay fairly shiny.

The Grinders get disassembled whenever they seem to smell a bit off. As long as they smell like fresh ground coffee, I leave 'em alone.
Espresso Sniper
One Shot, One Kill

LMWDP #175

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espressme

#3: Post by espressme »

Hello Folks,
What about the cleaning of non-HX machines such as levers and pumps ( with and without 3way valves ?) What are the differences in technique? Cleaner? De-scaler? Some of the manufacturers' directions are bit flakey.
Sincerely
Richard / espressme

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iginfect

#4: Post by iginfect »

And what do we do with lever machines where the shower screen doesn't come off (like an Olympia Cremina)? Am I supposed to disassemble the whole group head to clean it periodically? And when it doesn't go back together again? Blind pf baskets for a 67 Cremina?

Marvin

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Kristi

#5: Post by Kristi »

When I use the Solis, all of the above, but

ref "backflushing": put a little cafiza in pf blank. do pf jiggle until water starts coming out. Lock pf and shut pump off simultaneously. Shut heat off. Let sit for an hour. Remove pf blank and clean and flush everything.

This would apply to any non-3-way machine, afaiac.
Kris

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mogogear

#6: Post by mogogear »

Most of my experience has been with non HX machines- levers. I have owned a Silvia, TEA and a Livietta( HX intro) and still have a couple of Astra Gourmets. They all are a little different.

Most of the high points on HX have been touched on. If you are more anal by nature, you will not relax till all the bases are covered. Thats OK - it is your machine. Others will do it another way.

Levers- Since backflushing is not an option I:
pull a shot, knock and then re-insert PF, and pull another water only shot.
Remove PF using a folded Papertowel or equal wipe the PF gasket and wipe the dispersion screen.
Done

Every week or so- I actually use a group-head brush and brush the PF gasket.

Once a quarter- I'll flip off the dispersion screen and ( with the machine not on and hot) raise the lever or / lower depends on which machine, and do a simple wipe out of the cylinder with some Cafiza and hot water. Scrub the screen. Yes , I know that flipping off my Cremina's screen with out taking the grouphead off was warned about by Steve R. and proper care should be excerised if yours is stubborn- My screen pops off easily, always has. It just seems silly to do a big operation to check the cylinder.

Once a year ( maybe pull the PRV off on the bigger machines) and look inside to check out if any de-scaling is required. If so a tbsp of Citric acid ( bought bulk at a beer / wine making store) to a 1/2 gallon of water or mixed to your specs. Fill up the boiler, bring to temp, run some shots, steam, draw water and let it sit for about an hour. Drain flush - drain flush. Refill , bring to temp and pull shots and run all water , stream venues till all clear

I live in a "good water " area. I use a brita pitcher, keep the filter changed. After a year I have no detectable scale in any thing I own. Good for me - some of you will have crystals forming in a month... sorry.

When I took the astras apart ( they were from St Paul MN) they were scaled!! But the citric acid works charms on everything. Faucet sets, group heads, boilers( 5 L) lines etc. Cafiza and boiling water or just warm water soaked any old PF's etc back to sparkling clean.

I use 0000 steel wool for cleaning PF and chrome and polished stainless steel. It seems to leave ZERO swirls and not degrade the chrome on PF after repeated cleanings. I find that the green scotchbrite pads are too abrasive for most of the bright-work.

I also have never gotten real upset about some boilers not being plated and other having nice nickel plating inside. Most of the water lines in the world have been made of copper( versus old galvanized . teracotta and others) and most good quality alcohol stills are made of copper( they run at the same temperatures and run for a long time with no altering of flavors- I speak from experience onthis point- I ahve been distilling quite a while). I have noted that many here find that they start to find plating in their PF baskets and get very concerned. While visually alarming I don't think it is as big a issue as it seems. I do know that frequent use of descaler will remove plating from the inside of boilers very quickly.......... Won't it Richard :wink: :wink:
What you should do about it when it happens to you is another good topic to discuss.




It is late , I have wandered and digressed. Shutting up But that was a nice Fiesta Bowl Game........................!!
greg moore

Leverwright
LMWDP #067

Dogshot

#7: Post by Dogshot »

The article on machine cleaning is a gem. I have found that a great way to check on your own cleaning regime is to pop the screen off to check for build-up on the screen and inner parts of the grouphead shortly before planned maintenance. If the back of the screen is very dirty, backup the cleaning schedule until it is at a level of build-up that you are comfortable with. Screens with the centre screw are easy to remove, and E61 screens pop off safely and easily in seconds when you use Cannonfodder's suggestion of a paint-can opener.

It can be surprising how quickly the grouphead gets dirty, even when regularly rinsing and flushing the group.

Mark

roadman

#8: Post by roadman »

mogogear wrote:Once a year ( maybe pull the PRV off on the bigger machines) and look inside to check out if any de-scaling is required. If so a tbsp of Citric acid (bought bulk at a beer / wine making store) to a 1/2 gallon of water or mixed to your specs. Fill up the boiler, bring to temp, run some shots, steam, draw water and let it sit for about an hour. Drain flush - drain flush. Refill , bring to temp and pull shots and run all water , stream venues till all clear
Our water here is hard so last month I descaled my Cremina with citric acid. I ran into a couple of problems.

I used about 1 1/2 tablespoons citric acid to 1 liter of water. It took around 20 cycles of heating and rinsing the water out through the group before the water was no longer green and tasted okay again. I was pretty surprised (and rather frustrated) by the number of flushes it took to have it run clear again.

Is this typical? Did I overdo it on the citric acid to water ratio? Should the water be run through the group or dumped out through the top?

After all that flushing the lever action got stiff. It clearly needs lubrication. Is this typical after descaling? Is there an easy way to relubricate the piston or do I need to disassemble the group?

Jon

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jesawdy

#9: Post by jesawdy »

roadman wrote:Is this typical? Did I overdo it on the citric acid to water ratio? Should the water be run through the group or dumped out through the top?
Your citric acid solution formula sounds right. On my HX, when I went to fully flush the brew path, I flushed quite a lot more than I would've guessed until the green and eventually the "lemon" water taste was gone. On the boiler side, I drained the boiler completely and flushed about three times the boiler volume or more via the hot water tap and/or boiler drain plug. I should add this was an agressive descale, not knowing how long ago it had been done on a used commercial machine.

It certainly would be easier to turn the Cremina over and dump the descale water out the top, and then flush through the group. You probably want to send some citric through the group to descale, but maybe not too much. Some lever folks could help here.
Jeff Sawdy

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cannonfodder
Team HB

#10: Post by cannonfodder »

I have not used citric acid to descale so I can not comment on that. As to the sticky lever, yes that is normal. After a few shots it will smooth out as the coffee oils re-lubricate the works.
Dave Stephens