Your ultimate guide to how to clean an espresso machine

It’s easy to watch hours of videos of latte art and to pull shots perfectly, but if you’re looking to serve a great-tasting cup of coffee, making sure your commercial espresso machine is clean is where you need to start.

Without proper attention, you can end up with a bitter cup of coffee or, even worse, an espresso machine that won’t work at all. Cleaning an espresso machine isn’t difficult, but it requires knowledge of the appropriate cleaning products and techniques.

In this article, we’ll show you how to clean your espresso machine and keep it in top condition.

Why is it important to regularly clean an espresso machine?

When you pour a shot of espresso, hot water is pushed from the boiler through the group head and then passes through the portafilter and coffee grounds, finally ending up in the cup. When the espresso shot is finished, the solenoid valve releases any remaining pressure, forming a vacuum that sucks the coffee, grinds, and oils back into the group head and the valve. If you are frequently making espresso shots with your machine, these parts can become very dirty, so it is essential to ensure your coffee machine is properly cleaned on a regular basis.

If coffee oils are not regularly cleaned from your machine, they will accumulate and spoil. A poorly maintained coffee machine will make poor-tasting coffee. Metallic and bitter tastes are often attributed to the barista or coffee beans, but, more often than not, it is due to unclean equipment.


How to properly clean an espresso machine

Before you begin, ensure you have the necessary items close by. You will need a commercial coffee machines cleaning solution or cleaning tablet such as Puly Caff Powder and, ideally, a soft rag and a brush for cleaning the filter screen. You will also usually need a screwdriver to access the filter screen. Which type you will need depends on your espresso machine.

Once you have gathered your equipment, cleaning a coffee machine is a simple process in just three steps.


1 – Clean and empty the drip tray

Remove and empty the drip tray of all coffee grounds, then wipe clean with a soft, wet cloth.

2 – Backflush your machine

It is standard to backflush the brew group of your commercial espresso machine each day that it is used.

To backflush, insert a blind filter basket with half a teaspoon of cleaner added, lock the portafilter into the group head, activate the brew cycle for 10 seconds, and repeat 5-8 times.

Remove the portafilter and activate the brew cycle to rinse, then re-insert the portafilter with a clean blind filter basket, and rinse again.

3 – Clean the portafilters

Cleaning your portafilters and filter baskets is just as important as backflushing since loose grounds and coffee oils can build up and eventually affect the taste of your coffee.

To clean your portafilters and filter baskets, place them in a metal bowl or sink, add one tablespoon of espresso machine cleaning powder, and fill the bowl or sink with hot water to submerge the metal parts. Avoid submerging the plastic handles as they may wear away at them over time.

Let them sit for ten to fifteen minutes, remove them, rinse them with hot water, and brush off any remaining coffee grounds. When finished, place the filter baskets back in the portafilters and leave them on the group head overnight. If needed, you can leave the portafilters to soak overnight to give them a more thorough clean.

4 – Clean the group head screens

Group head shower screens evenly distribute the brewing warm water to the coffee puck. As they are in contact with the coffee puck all day, they get dirty quickly and must be cleaned regularly.

To clean them, unscrew the screw holding the group head shower screen and separate the three parts; the shower screen, the metal plate and the screw. Simmer these parts in hot water with a teaspoon of espresso machine cleaning powder for ten to fifteen minutes, then brush off any residing grounds.

Cleaning group head shower screens is easy when you keep on top of it and repeat this process every day. If neglected, cleaning can become more difficult, so make sure you clean your espresso machine group head shower screens every day.

5 – Cleaning a steam wand

Cleaning the steam wand is essential not just for the lifespan of your espresso machine, but also from a safety perspective.

The steam wand produces pressurised, temperature-controlled steam, which pushes air into the milk to create the perfect microfoam for your lattes, flat whites and other milky coffees. While doing so, milk residue may end up getting stuck to the outside of the wand. This can build up and even cause bacteria to grow. As such, it is essential to purge and clean your steam wand regularly.

Purging and cleaning your steam wand is simple. When cleaning without detergent, you will need to release steam to purge any milk inside the wand and then wipe the wand with a hot, clean cloth. For a more thorough clean, fill a jug with hot water and half a teaspoon of cleaning solution, then steam the solution with a wand for a few seconds. You will then need to repeat the process just with warm water to purge any cleaning solution left in the wand.

6 – Clean the external casing of your espresso machine

Clean the external casing of your espresso machine with a soft, wet cloth, then buff it dry with a separate cloth or paper towel. Be sure to use a gentle fabric as any abrasive material may cause scratches


How often should I clean my espresso machine?

All espresso machine commercial should be cleaned daily. Certain parts of it should be cleaned more than once a day; the steam wand, for instance, should be purged and wiped with a hot, wet cloth after every use, even if you do not use detergent.

Cleaning and maintaining a commercial espresso machine is essential for a successful coffee shop. It is important to clean the machine regularly, using the right tools, techniques, and products. Doing so will ensure that your espresso tastes great, your machine runs properly and lasts for many years. Investing in the right cleaning supplies and taking the time to properly clean your commercial coffee machine will pay off in the long run. Keep your coffee shop on the rise and your customers happy with a clean and well-maintained espresso machine.

For an extensive range of coffee machines and refurbished coffee machines, from traditional espresso machines to innovative coffee machines with smart descaling programs, check out our range at Logic Vending. We offer great buying, renting and leasing packages, including complete installation and training to ensure you get the most out of your coffee machine and coffee beans.