Keeping your espresso workarea clean

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.
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luca
Team HB

#1: Post by luca »

Kay, I've just returned from Core Espresso in Perth, where we did a bit of fooling around for the upcoming barista comps. As a result, I went out and bought some chux wipes to seek to keep my work area at home much tidier ... usually, I'm so far from the sink that I just let it get messy, but having the right stuff on hand makes it very easy to keep clean.

It is my hope that this thread will emphasise to newbies that home espresso almost always gets messy.

Here's my current setup, with cleaning stuff circled. (Sorry, I've only got MS paint on this computer, so y'all will have to tolerate my lame circles)

Image

A quick run-through of the function of each thing:

Red circle: Cloth used to keep drip tray clean. As this is only for cosmetic purposes and in no way comes in contact with anything that will go in anyone's mouth, this is my all-purpose cloth.

White circle: Teatowel used to clean and dry cups.

Green circle: Cloth used to keep steam wand clean. This is probably the most important one to reserve purely for its own use. Coffee dreck on steam wand = eeeeewwww!

Yellow circle: Cloth for wiping out basket. I have found that I almost always end up with oil at the bottom of my baskets at home when getting decent shots and my basket has a small ridge to show fill level, which gets full of grounds.

Blue circle: This is where my brushes live. I have a paintbrush for the grinder and a coffee tool for cleaning my group. The drawer below the grinder is a knockbox, so I'm quite happy to let grounds get on the foot of the grinder and just brush them in. The drawer to the right holds various doodads like thermometers, baskets, batteries, etc. I don't keep the brushes there because with so much cleaning the last thing that I want to do is to be opening a drawer!

A typical rundown, for me, is something like this:

(a) Fill milk jug.

(b) Run water through PF and into cups to preheat and set off element for temp surfing. Empty cup water into medium jug and wipe clean with teatowel (white)

(c) Grind, dose, tamp, extract. Brush away grinds with paintbrush (blue) and stop pour.

(d) Turn on steam switch, put cup on top of machine, knock out puck, wipe basket (yellow).

(e) Scrub group (blue).

(f) Wipe tray (red).

(g) When temp readout hits appropriate temp, which is usually right at the end of all of the cleaning, purge wand into large jug and steam. Pour some of the purged water onto the steam chux (green) and immediately wipe down wand.

(h) Run pump to refil boiler, go drink, come back and empty large jug into medium, large jug goes back on shelf, the other two and the dirty cup(s) go into the dishwasher).

(i) Every now and then, the cloths must be cleaned. I haven't gone into backflushing and descaling.

... so yeah, cleaning is a major PITA, but I'm starting to find that with heaps of dedicated chux it doesn't actually take up much more time, even though my setup is far removed from the sink. This way is certainly not the only way to do it, but it works for me. When I had a bottomless PF, I used to keep it on hand with a blank in it and backflush instead of brushing. Horses for courses.

Anyone care to share? Bright ideas?

Cheers,

Luca

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mrgnomer

#2: Post by mrgnomer »

Hey luca,

I've got a Silvia as well and my set up as far as hanging cleaning utensils off the counter under the Silvia for quick access as well as the cloths and brushes are the same. I like to keep things clean as well and measuring out beans for the dose keeps things clean as I grind no more than I need and brush out the grinder as well. The only time a mess happens is during the morning daze or by accident. My set up is right beside the sink as well so there's never a mess other than some stray grinds here and there.

One thing I like to do is use a squat coffee cup to catch the dribbles from the steam wand. The cup doubles for steam wand clean up after frothing.

After frothing I blast out some steam to clear the wand and holes, turn off the steam switch, continue to bleed off some pressure and hit the hot water switch. The cup catches the hot water and, tilting it sideways, I fill it until the water level is just over the baked on coffee coating the wand.

At that point I switch off the hot water and quickly wipe down the wand. All the time the water's been bleeding out of the boiler and refilling so the boiler water temp's dropped past the bottom limit for the brewing thermostat so it's now on the rise, allowing me to immediately grind, dose, tamp, lock and load for the next shots. By the time the coffee's ground the boiler temp is at the top and I can start the reverse temp surf.

Bleeding off the extra water does empty the reservoir faster but I don't mind keeping an eye on the level and filling it up when need be.

quar

#3: Post by quar »

mrgnomer wrote:After frothing I blast out some steam to clear the wand and holes, turn off the steam switch, continue to bleed off some pressure and hit the hot water switch. The cup catches the hot water and, tilting it sideways, I fill it until the water level is just over the baked on coffee coating the wand.

At that point I switch off the hot water and quickly wipe down the wand.
You should be careful doing that. If you shut off the hot water before tightly closing the steam valve while the wand is immersed, the wand could suck up some of the water into the boiler. It's more of an issue when people soak the wand overnight, but I could see the possibility. You're better off purging the steam wand and wiping it down with a warm, damp towel.

Good idea to keep flushing the boiler through the wand though. Best way to ensure that your boiler remains completely full.

Mike

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mrgnomer

#4: Post by mrgnomer »

You should be careful doing that. If you shut off the hot water before tightly closing the steam valve while the wand is immersed, the wand could suck up some of the water into the boiler.
Thanks for the advice, Mike :)

I hadn't considered that. I usually keep the hot water valve open after taking the wand out of the water and shutting off the water valve and close it off while wiping down out of habit. I'll change that habit to closing off the valve just before shutting the hot water off.

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kbuzbee

#5: Post by kbuzbee »

Agree completely, cleaning is a major part of the process. One of the joys of a La Pavoni is its portability. I store everything a ways from the sink but part of the morning ritual is moving the machine next to the sink. There I have water/trash/sink and all the paper towels I need. Paper towels clean everything! I seem to go through a roll a day between coffee and cooking (Cast Iron ROCKS!)

Ken
LMWDP #054

CUBANERO

#6: Post by CUBANERO »

I think is better to have this set in the center of the working surface-table rather on the edge. You have a nice setup though. I have two question that doesnt fit the post. First i want to know an online shop that provides this rancilio base and second is why you prefer doserless rocky, are you satisfied with the rocky? I am going to have exactly the same setup with you! For now i have the silvia 2009 and the pullman tamper ;-)