So, you have that brand new espresso machine, all chrome and shiny, sitting so nicely on your counter. You can’t wait to grind the beans, warm your mug, and have coffee house espresso right at your own kitchen table. Delicious, right?
Let’s fast forward about 6 months. That delicious espresso isn’t quite the same anymore. It’s tasting a little off, not quite right, more bitter than it should. Chances are, you haven’t cleaned your espresso machine even once since you got it! Here’s a few fun facts about what might be going on in your machine:
- Coffee beans have essential oils that make your espresso so wonderfully flavorful. But these oils also build up, causing a rancid flavor over time
- These same essential oils leave a film on the filter basket. If you let them go too long, the porta filter can become clogged
- Mold and bacteria can build up inside your machine. An espresso machine is warm and damp inside, and that just begs bacteria to take hold and grow. Best case, it tastes bad. Worst case, you end up sick.
- Your machine needs decalcifying. Even though you may have a water filter, minerals such as calcium and lime will build up on the internal working and will affect the delicious espresso flavor profile you’re used to enjoying each day.
What do you do?
The best way to avoid bad coffee is to clean your espresso machine on a regular basis! We recommend checking the directions that came from the manufacturer to decide how often you need to clean it, but most likely every six months will do the trick. If you don’t have the instructions anymore, they can often be found online – just search the make and model.
Ways to clean your espresso machine
Vinegar: This is the most recommended way to clean on most DIY websites. While you can use vinegar, it’s not usually recommended because it leaves an aftertaste behind that’s VERY hard to get rid of. You’ll find it takes several cycles of rinsing, and the smell and taste of vinegar may not ever go away.
Dish Soap: We have seen this from time to time as well. Just a note, it’s not recommended that you use dish soap to clean your espresso machine, ever! Using dish soap to bring back that yummy espresso flavor will have you running to the nearest Starbucks not to mention all the bubbles it will create! Dish soap is made of glycerin and oils (often mixed with fragrance oils) that cause a chemical reaction when blended with lye. It’s chemically designed specifically to break down oils, and this applies to the essential oils contained in coffee beans as well, replacing them with soapy—fragrance oils. It will leave a residue that will leave your espresso tasting less than perfect.
Espresso Cleaning Tabs: These are the most desirable way to clean your beloved espresso machine and they won’t add the taste of vinegar to your brew! They are easy to use and are specifically manufactured for this purpose. For regular daily use of your machine, just one tablet every three months should do the trick or once every other month for heavy machine use. As there are varying makes and models of espresso machines, check your instructions for detailed directions on how to use them.