It’s impossible to make a good coffee if you don’t wash your equipment. Don’t believe anyone who says otherwise!
But how do they wash?
Here is a guide to find out how and when to clean and maintain your espresso coffee machine, coffee grinder and water softener!
If you area customer read to the end and find out if your trusted barista takes all these steps to serve you a good and above all healthy product!
Clean the espresso machine
Clean the steam wands
I start by cleaning the steam wands because I can’t stand seeing them dirty anymore!
Have you ever walked into a club to ask for a macchiato coffee or a cappuccino and see the steam spear completely encrusted with milk, left there for so long that it has now turned brown.
This incrustation is a colony of bacteria formed by curdled and burnt milk.
Maybe you even happened to drink a cappuccino and then immediately have to run to the bathroom… no you’re not becoming intolerant to milk (if you consume it regularly at home), your stomach simply couldn’t digest all those bacteria…
Cleaning the steam wand is very simple:
- Before frothing the milk, let a little steam come out of the wand, so as to avoid any internal condensation;
- Froth the milk as always;
- Bleed again and wipe the outside with a microfiber cloth.
These steps must be done every time you use the tool.
And don’t believe when they tell you: “I don’t have time to do it every time, I work a lot!”
Not true at all! It doesn’t even take a second!
In fact there should always be a cloth fixed exactly under the steam wand, reserved only for this action: with one hand you remove the milk jug with the hot milk and with the other you immediately wipe the cloth.
For a good bartender this is an automatic step that he performs without even thinking about it.
While once a day at the end of the service a more thorough cleaning is required:
- Immerse the lance in a basin of water at room temperature with the appropriate liquid detergent;
- Open and close the steamer about ten times;
- Repeat the operation but only with clean water.
The steam wand must be opened and closed several times, because when the steam supply is switched off, a little liquid is sucked into the cannula, thus cleaning the inside well too.
2. Clean the filters and filter holders
The filters are those perforated cups in which we insert the ground coffee to make the extraction.
The filter holders, on the other hand, are the arms that we see attached to the machine, which carry the filter and allow the coffee to flow out.
Clean the filters after each coffee:
- Empty the filter from the used coffee;
- Help remove any residues with a small brush;
- Dry the filter with a microfiber cloth.
This serves not to spoil the taste of an excellent coffee.
If the residues of all the coffees previously extracted in the filter remain for an entire day, the ground after being extracted and heated, what do you think it will bring to the cup? Hints of burnt and a strong bitterness!
Their cleanliness is therefore essential if you are working with quality coffee!
And if they still tell you “But I don’t have all this time!” Well, don’t believe him… I’ve worked in establishments that make up to 15 kilograms of coffee in one day, following every single step in the correct way and never delaying the service!
If the bartender can’t do it, there are two reasons:
- The place is not well organized and structured;
- You are not adequately prepared to know how to work and perform steps quickly and accurately.
In the evening, however, the cleaning must be more thorough:
- Remove the filters from the filter holder;
- Immerse both in a basin with hot water and two teaspoons of special powder product, making sure it is well dissolved;
- After about 15 minutes, rinse with warm water.
NB. Don’t clean them with a sponge, just warm water. In fact, using the sponge will ruin all the chrome and the metallic material, which you would then find in the cup, as well as making the machine black and ruined.
Look at the photo to understand what I’m talking about when I say “dirty” and “black”. Nobody wants tools like this right?! So let’s clean it right!
If they are not washed, an incrustation is formed so thick that the drink does not really come out during extraction, as the passage is completely blocked.
In fact, it happened to me that someone called me to say: “There’s a problem, I can’t make coffee anymore”, thinking it was a grind problem, when in reality it was so dirty that the coffee literally couldn’t get through!
3. Clean the brew group
The brew group is that part of the machine to which the filter holders are attached.
Like the other parts, this too needs to be cleaned after each coffee:
click on the purge button to release a few seconds of water and eliminate any residues of used coffee stuck to the surface of the shower.
So check that the barista performs this step before preparing your coffee!
In the evening however:
- With a special brush, clean the gasket thoroughly from any ground coffee, while running a little water;
- Then remove the classic filter and insert the blind filter, i.e. without holes, and start the automatic washing, now present in every machine;
- This operation must be repeated for each group;
- Once a week, on the other hand, a couple of teaspoons of a special product are also inserted into the blind filter to wash it even more thoroughly;
- If your machine allows it, also disassemble the hand shower and leave it to soak together with the filters and filter holders.
And that too is done!
4. Clean the rest of the car
Now the external and visible parts are missing to clean, such as:
- The support grid of the cups during dispensing;
- The same also applies to the tub under this grate;
- Then you have to check if the upper part, the cup holder is still very clean or is now full of dust, in the second case it must be washed immediately;
- Finally we polish all the chrome parts by drying them well with a soft cloth.
Clean the grinder
Just as it is important to clean the machine, the same also applies to the coffee grinder, both On Demand and Volumetric (with doser), both electric and manual.
It is important to clean it because coffee contains oils that can leak out over time and, in contact with oxygen, become rancid, making our coffee acrid and with hints of rottenness.
Dark Roasted coffees are even more subject to leakage of the substance. In fact, if you enter a bar and see the black and shiny beans, even attached to the walls of the bell, do yourself a favor: get out immediately!
Therefore, every evening you must:
- Remove all the coffee present, both in beans and ground;
- Clean the hopper, i.e. the part that contains the beans, with a paper cloth and a specific product, usually based on food alcohol, so as to be sure that it dries quickly;
NB. Never put the bell in the cup washer, as it would become opaque and porous!
NB. Make sure it is completely dry before pouring the beans, otherwise they will absorb all the moisture.
- Now pour special granules to clean the millstones and operate the mill. These tablets absorb excess oils and keep the millstones dry, without ever letting them “knead”;
- If your grinder also has a measuring cup, clean it the same way you cleaned the hopper;
- Finally, reassemble everything and grind a few beans, so as to eliminate any residue from the tablets.
Maintain the softener
Another important tool is the water softener, i.e. the machine that purifies the water from limestone, making it more “soft”, i.e. less “hard”.
Limescale would spoil the taste of the coffee, making it acrid, bitter, metallic and less creamy. But it also ruins equipment by attaching itself to pipes, resistors, solenoid valves and faucets.
This affects both the machine’s ability to perform at its best, but also the energy bill.
Solenoid valves that have to keep the water constant at high temperatures consume a tot of energy, but if they are completely encrusted, they consume much more to work and therefore higher bills!
Fortunately, by now the softeners on the market are automatic and we don’t have to do anything except add salt every time the machine requires it!
Between one coffee and another, these are the steps that the barista must take:
- Unhook the filter holder from the machine;
- Simultaneously start the purge to clean the showers;
- Empty the filter holder;
- Clean it with the brush and dry it with a cloth;
- Fill it with the new ground coffee;
- Attach the filter holder to the machine and start dispensing.
If you also need to froth milk:
- Before purging the steam lance;
- The matte mounts;
- The wand is cleaned with a cloth and the purge is made again, only to go on to prepare the espresso after that.
At the end of the service:
- Soak the filters and filter holders, and if possible, also join the shower heads;
- In the meantime, clean the gaskets;
- Start the automatic washing of each group;
- Wash the rest of the car and reassemble all the pieces;
- Wash the hopper and the dispenser, if present;
- Clean the millstones;
- Reassemble everything;
- Check the salt in the water softener.