Cleaning routine for low use espresso machine

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.
jldc

#1: Post by jldc »

I have a La Spaziale Mini Vivaldi that I got (myself) for Christmas. Although I love the machine, it doesn't get much use. Probably 10 drinks per week, about half with milk. Most of this use comes on the weekend.

At this level of use, what is a reasonable cleaning routine? I've read that most machines should be back flushed with a cleanser about monthly. Is this overkill, given my usage?

I always clean the PF and wipe down the head (and steam wand if used) immediately. I keep the drainage tray empty to keep anything from starting to grow, etc.

Stated another way, should my cleaning routine be based on number of coffees brewed or time interval since last cleaning?

Thanks
L

User avatar
JohnB.
Supporter ♡

#2: Post by JohnB. »

Your Mini, like the S1, uses a dual screen set up in the group. Grounds get trapped between the screens which helps keep the 3 way valve cleaner longer but the screens need to be swapped out regularly. I used to swap in the spare screen set every 4-5 days when I had my S1V2, plain water backflushes each night & a detergent cleaning every 3 weeks.

Regular screen swaps are critical on your Mini as you don't want to be pulling shots through old grinds. As far as how often to do a detergent cleaning try it at 2 weeks & see what comes out in the drip tray. If you see brown smooge in the first few flushes it was time & you might want to shorten the interval. If the cleaner comes out white try 3 weeks, ect. These long cleaning intervals only work with the Vivaldi due to the screen set up. With my current machine I run detergent through every 4 days.
LMWDP 267

User avatar
shadowfax

#3: Post by shadowfax »

If you aspire to make great espresso with your machine, you should backflush with detergent each day that you use the machine to make espresso. The idleness of the machine while dirty increases the foulness of what you will taste in shots pulled on a dirty machine.

I think a lot of people don't notice the taste of espresso pulled through a dirty, idle machine. You might not, and in that case, it's best to do whatever you want. But if you ever notice it, be warned—it's something you can't "untaste" and it will ruin a lot of espresso for you.
Nicholas Lundgaard

User avatar
boar_d_laze

#4: Post by boar_d_laze »

It seems you've already read the FAQ and were left befuddled, so I'm not going to tell you to reread it. If you haven't read the machine care FAQ posted here at HB you should.

The backflushing injunctions can be confusing. There's backflushing without detergent, backflushing with detergent, and backflushing an E-61 semi-automatic with detergent. The restriction, "only backflush monthly" means applies to an E-61 semi-auto because they use a moving part which needs lubrication to work properly and the detergent dissolves the lubrication.

You should go through an entire backflush routine every day you use your machine, before turning it off.

Start by brushing your group race and basket, daily, at the end of every session. But don't use the stiff group on the screen. After brushing, back flush four times at 15 second off and on intervals; ending the last one with a wiggle flush. Do a final back-flush and check to see that the water in the basket is clean and clear.

If you let the machine idle for more than a couple of hours after pulling a shot, it's not a bad idea to backflush before pulling the next one. Your tastebuds will thank you. Don't take it on faith, try it.

You should also clean your portafilter and basket daily. Your portico filter too, but only if you get the joke. Clean the serious pf by running hot water through it, and scrubbing the interior with a ScotchBrite green scrubbing cloth (cut them in quarter, reserve them for this task, and you'll get a week out of them). Brush the basket with an ordinary dish brush; hold it to the light after its thoroughly rinsed to make sure none of the holes are clogged. Don't use dish soap or anything else for the pf and basket.

The idea behind frequent cleaning is to clean off old oils before they have a chance to bake on; which is as much a function of time as use.

It won't hurt anything in your La Spaz, so you might as well do the same backflush routine with (espresso machine specific) detergent, weekly -- if you've used the machine even once that week.

Also weekly, soak your portafilter and basket for at least 30 minutes in hot water with detergent before cleaning them as described.

The morning after cleaning with detergent, remember that no matter how well you rinsed your machine, pf and basket they'll need to be re-seasoned. So plan on an extra sink shot. Like everyone else, use the top o'the morning grinder clearing dose.

The most popular espresso detergents are Joe-Glo (low sudsing), Urnex Cafiza and Urnex First Circle (the "green" version of Cafiza). I've used all of three, and all are good.

Good luck,
BDL
Drop a nickel in the pot Joe. Takin' it slow. Waiter, waiter, percolator

User avatar
tekomino

#5: Post by tekomino »

boar_d_laze wrote:The morning after cleaning with detergent, remember that no matter how well you rinsed your machine, pf and basket they'll need to be re-seasoned. So plan on an extra sink shot. Like everyone else, use the top o'the morning grinder clearing dose.
I think this is akin to making your pan dirty before cooking in it again. It does not make sense to me. If everything is nice and clean there is absolutely no reason for so called re-seasoning. I don't even know what that means in this context to be honest :D
Refuse to wing it! http://10000shots.com

User avatar
boar_d_laze

#6: Post by boar_d_laze »

To be honest, it means the second cup of coffee will taste better than the first. To go with your cooking metaphor, it's similar to re-seasoning cast iron and "carbon steel" pans and griddles after they've been cleaned with detergent.

By way of explanation, even a scintilla of residual detergent in the brew-path will affect the taste of the coffee. The best way to completely remove it is not with water, but with coffee -- because of the coffee oils/detergent interaction. The best time to do it is immediately before the serious brewing begins, that way there's no stale and/or baked on grunge; and to do otherwise would largely defeat the purpose of cleaning.

If you can't taste the difference a seasoning shot makes after cleaning with detergent, then the exercise is wasted. However I can, and find it sufficiently worthwhile and beneficial to practice and recommend. :D

Hope this clarifies,
BDL
Drop a nickel in the pot Joe. Takin' it slow. Waiter, waiter, percolator

User avatar
tekomino

#7: Post by tekomino »

I have doubts people can taste difference between first shot and second shot when cleaning is performed completely. Are you sure you are not projecting that? Did you do any blind testing to confirm this? :wink:

I find no difference between first and second shot on my clean machines. My cleaning is very thorough and flushing of detergent is complete. Even plain water out of the group head after cleaning tastes neutral...
Refuse to wing it! http://10000shots.com

genovese

#8: Post by genovese »

boar_d_laze wrote:To be honest, it means the second cup of coffee will taste better than the first. To go with your cooking metaphor, it's similar to re-seasoning cast iron and "carbon steel" pans and griddles after they've been cleaned with detergent.
The iron analogy is a stretch, as clean iron is so much more reactive -and flavorful- than brass. Its other weakness is that pans are abrasively scrubbed after each use, exposing unoxidized metal, while the patina on brass/copper is not disturbed by espresso detergents.
By way of explanation, even a scintilla of residual detergent in the brew-path will affect the taste of the coffee.
Only if it exceeds your taste threshold for alkaline bitterness, of which there is already quite a lot in coffee. Fragrances (e.g. Cascade for dishwashers) are much more easily perceived, and harder to rinse away, but in a proper espresso detergent there will be none.
The best way to completely remove it [detergent] is not with water, but with coffee -- because of the coffee oils/detergent interaction.
My mother was a colloid chemist, but I took a different path, so I can't speak to that interaction, though I'm open to learning more if you can offer a reference to elucidate this. Empirically, though, espresso detergents are so readily water-soluble, and the ratio of a "scintilla" of detergent to flush volume so minute, that "best" in this case may be orders of magnitude beyond "adequate." As an analogy, take the case of washing dishes by hand with liquid detergent. After the oils have been removed, we flush away residual detergent or complexed detergent/oil with a final rinse of clean, hot water, not with water that carries more free oil globules.

In the end, I yield to those with more discriminating palates than mine. Apparently I am among the taste-impaired who cannot discriminate between back-to-back clean-but-unseasoned first and subsequent shots, at least when the brass parts have not been abrasively scrubbed. Without generalization, (my) ignorance is (my) bliss, I guess.

opother

#9: Post by opother »

Never doubt tastebuds that is why some people are known to be great wine tasters, coffee cuppers etc.... taste buds are not equal in all and I have no doubt some people are gifted with very sensitive taste buds that can pick up a lot more than the average person.

As for taste after a backflush I am no colloidist or scientist but I can attest to the fact that every time I backflush my machine and clean my parts with cafiza or similar types of detergents it takes more than a couple of shots to get rid of the foul bitterness left behind No Matter How Well I Rinse Everything Out.

Some say it's the taste of raw bare metal interacting with the coffee. I don't know what it is but I don't like it at all. I find seasoning takes longer than I like and does not last as long as I wish once there.

The coffee oils going rancid is a very gradual but not really too slow process in my experience. After seasoning passes the peak of very good I find the shots tend to be good to ho hum average for a while before things get nasty.

User avatar
JohnB.
Supporter ♡

#10: Post by JohnB. »

opother wrote:As for taste after a backflush I am no colloidist or scientist but I can attest to the fact that every time I backflush my machine and clean my parts with cafiza or similar types of detergents it takes more than a couple of shots to get rid of the foul bitterness left behind No Matter How Well I Rinse Everything Out.
That's unfortunate, luckily I have no such problem. Possibly the E61 grouphead with its multitude of parts is tough to rinse out. My experience is the same as Denis's. I rinse thoroughly after a detergent cleaning & always do them at the end of the day. Next morning I flush some water through the grouphead & it's business as usual. Did a detergent cleaning last night & today's first shot was Equator Coffee's Dominican Republic Juncalito. Sweet tropical fruit with a graham cracker crust finish as advertized. No foul taste, no bitterness & as it turned out the best shot of the day.
LMWDP 267