Caring For Your Espresso Machine Investment

More often than not one of your biggest investments as a coffeeshop or cafe owner is your espresso machine and grinder. At the end of a long day behind the bar, the last thing you or your team will want to do is a deep clean. We’ve all done it - given our espresso machines a quick wipe over, a bit of a rinse through and a vow to take care of it in the morning. But skipping daily care and regular servicing is one way to reduce the lifespan of what is likely your biggest investment.

As a coffee business owner, you are incredibly reliant on your equipment. It is key that you dedicate time to maintaining, cleaning, and repairing your equipment to ensure it can provide value to your business for years to come. A little time spent will save you many headaches in the future - and, helps reduce the revenue loss that comes with equipment downtime. To ensure your staff takes care of your machine the way you would, it’s important to build standard operating procedures for everything: from how to clean the espresso machine to daily re-stocking and FIFO for your dairy. Read on for tips on what you should include - note that different machines often have different cleaning and servicing requirements, so simply use the below as a starting point to build out an SOP guideline that works for your shop.

SOPs are Key

SOPs (standard operating procedures) are key to a functional and efficient business. Even the simplest of tasks should have written, well-thought-out SOP processes. This will allow staff to quickly and efficiently check off required steps. Never assume that something is too simple for a best practice checklist - everyone cleans up differently and prioritizes things in different ways.

Daily Care (During Service)

  1. Clean steam wands: Throughout the day, clean/wipe steam wand with a “steam wand only” designated damp rag after every drink.
  2. Backflush groups with water only (no chemicals) at least once per shift: Pop the basket out of the portafilter, replace the basket with your backflush disk. Place the portafilter into the group head and allow water to run for 8 to 10 seconds. Repeat this process several times to help loosen any old coffee grounds and oils.
  3. Rinse and wipe clean portafilters and baskets at least once per shift to remove old oils and buildup.

Daily Care (End of Shift)

  1. Backflush all groupheads: Remove the portafilter and turn on the water flow. Use a brush to scrub off all coffee grounds. Put a spoon of espresso machine detergent in your backflushing disk and then insert it into your group. Run it for ten seconds on, ten seconds off, repeat four times. Leave the filter in the group for about five minutes. This is a key step that allows the detergent to breakdown the oil and residue. Remove the portafilter, and clear water flush your group (ten on, ten off) until the water runs clear. Repeat steps until the water runs clean.
  2. Clean portafilters: Soak portafilters and the removed baskets in warm water and an espresso machine cleaner for 10-15 minutes. When finished, rinse and wipe dry.
  3. Clean steam wands: Fill a large milk pitcher 1/2 way with hot water. Add your preferred steamwand cleaner in the amount listed on the package. Insert steam wand and froth as if frothing milk. Allow wand to soak in solution for 5 minutes. Empty steaming pitcher and repeat with water to rinse.
  4. Remove and clean the espresso machine drip tray.
  5. Wipe down exterior of machine
  6. Clean group shower screens. In the group head, unscrew the screw that is holding the shower screen. Soak the screen, screw and metal plate in hot water and espresso machine cleaning powder for 10-15 minutes, then brush. They will be easy to clean if you do this every day.