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Cleaning Espresso Machine Essentials - Dilworth Coffee

Cleaning Espresso Machine Essentials

When you think about cleaning espresso machine parts, pieces, and accessories—the ones that keep your shop going—do you have a routine schedule?

As we were sorting through Dilworth’s metaphorical mailbag recently, we stumbled on an important question:

“I hear maintenance is critical to maintaining my coffee equipment and drink quality. What needs to be done, and how should I do it?”

As the owner or manager of a coffee shop that’s always brimming with business, your commercial espresso machine is probably working overtime so you can serve up top-tier drinks with the perfect sweet sensation or heavy body. One of the most important steps? Regular espresso machine maintenance.

To ensure that your espresso-based drinks are consistently captivating to your customers, you need a regular cleaning and maintenance schedule. We’re here to help keep your commercial coffee machine at its brewing best with the need-to-know tips for when and what to clean.

Why Cleaning Espresso Machine Parts Is So Important

Cleaning espresso machine parts

Cleaning your shop’s commercial coffee machine may take a few minutes or more each day, but the payoff is substantial. Not only will your most discerning customers savor satisfying sips, but it can even extend the lifespan of your essential equipment.

There are three main reasons why espresso machine maintenance is so important:

  1. Removing debris like splatters, oils, and resins ensures your espresso machine is sparkling clean. This puts your customers at ease; knowing your shop values cleanliness. A commercial espresso machine and coffee grinder that look shiny and new sets the tone for the rest of your shop.

  2. If resins and oils from coffee beans and grounds build up on different parts and components of your machine, they can interfere with the flavor of your espresso-based drinks and even lower their overall quality. If these resins are left to build up on your machine’s filter baskets or shower screens within the group heads, it can cause subsequent drinks made with even the best beans to taste bitter. And too much build-up can even obstruct future extractions. In just a matter of days, the quality of your drinks will go noticeably downhill if your equipment isn’t kept clean.

  3. Even if your shop uses a water softener, you need to descale the internal components of your commercial espresso machine to prevent mineral scale buildup. This kind of scaling can greatly impact the pressure of your machine’s pump and the quality of the drinks created with it, but can also wreak havoc on your espresso machine. Mineral scale and buildup are the top causes of espresso machine breakdowns, which can force you to slow down your shop until parts can be repaired or replaced.

Helpful Espresso Machine Cleaning Tools and Products

Here are some products and tools currently on the market that can help ensure your machines are clean and running smoothly:

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Daily Espresso Machine Cleaning Checklist

At the end of each day, you should plan to:

  • Clean water backflush your espresso machine, then follow up by brushing and wiping down the machine’s dispersion screen and gasket.

  • Rinse out the portafilter and portafilter basket, then scrub and wipe them down.

  • Submerge your steam wand in hot water and coffee detergent, then let it soak for 15-20 minutes to clean, dislodge any debris, and break down oils. You may also need to use a tool to remove debris from the steam tip holes. Then, wipe down, rinse, and purge the steam tip after letting it soak.

Don’t forget that you should purge your steam tip after each use. This clears the tip of any remaining milk and prevents the milk from being sucked back into your espresso machine’s boiler.

Bonus Tip: By some accounts, coffee oils can go rancid after only 45 minutes. So while there are definitely daily cleaning tasks, you should also plan to rinse grinds away from your dispersion screen and perform a quick backflush with clean water, then scrub the portafilter and basket each hour, and complete a brief cleaning of the shower screen and gasket with a brush.


Weekly Espresso Machine Cleaning Checklist

At the end of each week, there are some additional steps you can take to give your hardworking espresso machine the TLC it deserves—like a little trip to the espresso spa, if you will. Every week, you should plan to:

  • Backflush your machine using some kind of coffee detergent to break down coffee oils and remove other residue to start the next week with a clean machine. Be sure to follow the directions, no matter what kind of coffee detergent you opt to use.

  • Do a deep soak of your portafilters and baskets, letting them sit for at least thirty minutes in a solution of coffee detergent and hot water, then follow up with a thorough scrubbing.

  • If your espresso machine has a group head with a screw that holds its shower screen in place, remove these pieces and the brass dispersion plate, and soak and scrub them in a solution composed of coffee detergent and hot water.

Monthly Espresso Machine Cleaning Checklist

Does your commercial espresso machine have an inline water filtration system? If you use an inline water filtration system that uses cartridges, be sure these still work by checking them every month.

Here’s why: Some cartridges may not be able to keep up with the kind of high-volume output your coffee shop demands. And if your cartridges aren’t keeping up, they might be adding impurities to your water supply rather than filtering them out. The result will be an espresso that tastes of chemicals. What’s more, spent or malfunctioning filters can cause calcium deposits and mineral scales to build up in your machine and create all kinds of problems.

Bonus Tip: You should also plan to descale your espresso machine at least once per year—yes, even if you have a great water filtration system. The reason? Calcium can still build up in your boiler tank. A tiny amount of calcium may not immediately impact your espresso’s flavor, but over time, small traces of calcium can grow, leading to a bitter taste and damaging your espresso machine.

Everything You Need for Unbeatable Coffee and a Thriving Shop

Cleaning Esspresso Machine Essentials for the Best Tasting Shot

If you take the time and care to clean your espresso machine, it will keep your coffee shop brewing and bustling for years to come—but it helps to have a little guidance along the way.

At Dilworth Coffee, we believe that we’re all part of the same community. That idea of feeling like you belong at your local coffee shop? That’s what we want to create for our café partners.


That’s why we offer the support, equipment, materials, and expertise you need for a thriving coffee shop, including:

Your shop matters to us. Want to learn more about how we can support your shop? Contact us today!

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