Super-Automatic Machine Maintenance
When taking care of your super-automatic machine, there’s three primary areas of concern:
- Cleaning the brew group, or brew unit
- Cleaning the milk circuit or steam wand
The Brew Group
For machines with removable brew groups, your most immediate concern will be taking it out and rinsing it under cold or room temperature water once every week or so. This keeps old grounds out of the way, and let’s the moving parts move freely to brew your drink. Once a month, you should inspect your brew unit’s o-rings for damage or wear and replace as needed. Lubricate your brew unit as needed to keep the moving parts moving smoothly. Some machines do not feature a removable brew unit, and instead rely on cleaning tablets to do the work for you. In this case, simply follow the instructions in your machine manual to keep your machine clean.
The Milk Circuit
For your milk system, most machines offer a rinsing cycle in the machine menu to automatically clean the milk circuit in your machine, whether it’s a steam wand or a carafe. For steam wands, always purge the wand prior to using it, and wipe down the wand after frothing milk. If a pannarello wand is attached, or any kind of auto frothing device, you should disassemble what you can and clean any residues to keep your milk froth fresh and excellent. For carafes, take advantage of your machine’s rinsing cycles to purge residues, and use a milk cleaning solution to clean the components.
Descaling the machine should be done at least every three months using the product recommended by the manufacturer. Descaling is required even if reverse osmosis, distilled, or zero water is being used. Different machines follow different processes, but most descaling cycles are automated, and can be selected through your machine’s menu. To guide you further, your menu or your machine manual will provide specific instruction.
Semi-Automatic & Prosumer
For your semi-automatic or prosumer machine, you’ll need to pay attention to:
- Grouphead Cleaning
- Steam Wand Cleaning
- Backflushing (Prosumer)
The grouphead should be taken apart on a monthly basis to remove scale buildup, remove coffee residues, and improve shot flavor. The group gasket will typically need to be replaced about every six months to a year. It is not necessary to replace the gasket until leaking at the grouphead occurs, but it is good to have a gasket on hand since the machine cannot be used with a broken gasket.
The Steam Wand
For your steam wand, always purge the wand prior to using it, and wipe down the wand after frothing milk. If a pannarello wand is attached, or any kind of auto frothing device, you should disassemble what you can and clean any residues to keep your milk froth fresh and excellent.
Descaling the machine should be done at least every three months using the product recommended by the manufacturer. Descaling is required even if reverse osmosis, distilled, or zero water is being used. The general process involves pouring your selected descaling solution into your water reservoir and running a cup of water through the grouphead and steam wand. Then, let the machine soak for about 20 minutes. When ready, alternate running water through the grouphead and steam wand, one cup at a time, until the reservoir is empty. Clean your reservoir thoroughly, fill it, and run a full tank in the same way as before. We recommend following the instructions set out by your machine manual for specifics.
For Prosumer equipment, you should backflush your machine weekly. This removes oils and coffee grounds buildup from the machine internals to keep your coffee tasting fresh like it should. To backflush your machine, put a blindfilter basket or backflush disc in your portafilter. Add backflushing detergent to the portafilter and lock it into the grouphead. Pull a shot for about 10 seconds. Repeat this 5 times or until the foam coming out into the drip tray is clean. Then repeat this process without backflushing solution to rinse out the system. Rinse at least 5 times. Lastly, run water through the group head without the portafilter locked in for about 10 seconds or until clear.
Grinder Cleaning & Calibrating
To keep your grinder calibrated, clean, and grinding finely, we’ll need to get to the burrs. To do this, first remove the bean hopper and excess beans. Then, remove stop screw (or other screws on adjustment collar in necessary). Turn the adjustment collar toward the coarser setting to remove. Remove the top plate and springs beneath. Now, you should be able to get to the burrs freely. Use a stiff brush to dislodge debris from the burrs and clean out what you can. When you’re finished, replace your components. When replacing the adjustment collar, turn clockwise and press downward until the threads align. Then turn the collar toward the finer setting until you can’t turn it anymore. When you can no longer turn the collar, turn it back about a half turn. Plug your grinder in and turn it on. While in operation, turn the adjustment collar toward the finer setting until you can hear the burrs starting to touch. When you hear this, turn the collar back a little bit until you cannot hear this sound. This is your zero setting, and your grinder’s finest possible grind.