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How to Clean an Espresso Machine

Learn how to clean an espresso machine from the experts at Third Rail Coffee in this Howcast video.


My name is Mike Jones, and I'm a barista at Third Rail Coffee right by Washington Square Park in New York City. I'm going to teach you some basic coffee-making skills.

I'm going to show you how to clean an espresso machine. Now, the basic thing that you do is a process called "backflushing". Now what this is, is instead of using this basket here in the portafilter which has holes in the bottom for the espresso to go through, you use a blank one right here which is solid on the base. You can pop it out and see. And so what you do is you put it in the machine, same as if you were extracting espresso, but pull shots at 5 seconds intervals. And I'll show you that a little bit more. First thing you want to do is scrub the screen. This is a pretty standard espresso brush. And as you're running some water, you can just scrub the base. Now if you're doing this at the end of the night at a busy cafe, you would actually take the screen of. But to give it a good clean, this is sufficient. Put the portafilter in. Ran it for 5 seconds and then stopped. And then dump out the dirty water. And then you're going to repeat that between 5 and 10 times. So assuming we've done that, the final step is to run the water and then wiggle the portafilter around. This cleans out around the edges up in the grouphead. So at the end of the night, you're going to want to do that same backflushing process but this time with chemicals. The common ones are from Urnex. And they're either called Cafiza, Full Circle, and there's a whole range of them but pretty much every coffee shop is using the chemical from that company. So you just use a small amount about the size of a dime, and place it right in that basket there. And then you just go through that process of running 5 seconds intervals and then at the end wiggling it around. You might want to give this one a more thorough wipe with the rag at the end so there's no excess chemicals. And that's the basics of cleaning the espresso machine.

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