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Maintaining & Cleaning Your Equipment: A Step-by-Step Guide for Your Staff

Maintaining & Cleaning Your Equipment: A Step-by-Step Guide for Your Staff

It is very important to keep the commercial espresso machine and commercial coffee grinder in your coffee shop or espresso bar neat and clean. You should do a routine cleaning of your commercial espresso machine and your commercial coffee grinder every day after closing. In this article, we take you through the simple steps you need to do to clean this equipment.

Cleaning your commercial espresso machine and coffee grinder should take you less than 10 minutes from start to finish, and will pay off handsomely in customer satisfaction, and in the lifetime of your equipment. There are three very important reasons to keep this equipment clean.

First, if you allow grime, splatters, and resins from the oils in the coffee to accumulate on the equipment, your customers will see your shop as a dirty place. They will not feel comfortable patronizing your coffee shop or espresso bar, and will take their daily business to another shop. Just as you would not leave litter on your floor, or stains on your tables, you should make sure that your commercial espresso machine and coffee grinders always look new, clean, and shiny.

Second, as resins from the oils in your coffee accumulate on some of the components of your commercial espresso machine, they will alter the flavor, hence quality, of your espresso drinks. As resins accumulate on your filter basket and in your shower screens (within the groupheads), those resins will impart bitterness to subsequent extractions.

They will also partially obstruct those extractions so that they do not extract properly. Over the course of a week, the quality of your drinks will decrease if you do not keep your equipment clean.

And third, if you don't regularly de-scale the internals of your commercial espresso machine with a cleaner made for this (like Cafiza), even when using the water softening unit (as is strongly recommended - and frequently required for warranty validity), over time, mineral scales will accumulate within your espresso machine.

This scaling will not only alter the pressure exerted by the pump (and hence, the quality of your drinks), but it will eventually damage your commercial espresso machine. Scaling due to poor maintenance is the #1 cause of commercial espresso machine breakdowns. Don't let something as easily avoidable as scaling shut down your coffee shop for repairs.

For these three reasons, you should clean your commercial espresso machine and commercial coffee grinder every night after closing your coffee shop by following the steps below.

Cleaning Your Commercial Coffee Grinder

First, close the gate of the hopper, and lift the hopper off of your commercial coffee grinder. Pour the remaining coffee beans into an airtight container for overnight storage. Then wash the hopper with warm soapy water, and put it on towels or in a drainer to dry overnight. Do not put the damp hopper back on the commercial coffee grinder. If you do, drops of water will trickle down into the commercial coffee grinder and rust the grinding wheels.

Second, empty the chamber by pulling the dosing lever repeatedly until all of the ground coffee has been removed. Put the ground coffee in an airtight container for storage. You will not use this ground coffee for your espresso drinks. But you can use it for regular coffee and iced coffee.

Third, use your grinder brush to brush the grinder out so that the grinding wheels and chamber internals are clean and dry.

Fourth, use window-cleaner and some paper towels to buff up the grinder body so that it is spotless, shiny, and good-as-new. Your customers will know that you take cleanliness seriously.

Cleaning Your Commercial Espresso Machine

First, take a clean cloth run under hot water, and wipe off your steam wands. Remove any milk that has been scorched onto the wand. (Do not scrape the wand with anything sharp. It is stainless steel, and it will scratch.) If the tip of the wand is threaded on and will unscrew, take it off and clean it. Make sure that the end of the wand is free and clear. If needed, use the end of an opened paper clip to scrape out the inside of the tip. Put the tips back onto the steam wands.

Second, fill a small plastic bucket to a depth of about 3 inches with hot water. Pour in a little commercial espresso machine cleaner to make a solution in which to soak parts overnight.

Third, remove the group handle. Use a screwdriver to dislodge the filter basket. Clean off the filter basket under running warm water using a scouring pad and some soap (if needed). Then put the filter basket in the bucket of solution to soak overnight.

Fourth, put a blind-filter into the group handle. Put teaspoon of commercial espresso machine cleaner (like Cafiza) into the blind-filter. Lock the group handle into the grouphead, and then use the manual override to flush water into the grouphead. The blind-filter will cause the cleaner to backwash into the machine, and de-scale it. Do not merely turn the water on. You will burn out the solenoid that operates the valve. Instead, press and hold the manual override for a full count of three seconds. Turn it off, and repeat 8-10 times.

Fifth, turn off the espresso machine (if this is what you do), and open the steam wands to purge the steam and to de-pressurize your commercial espresso machine. Leave them open overnight. (Some shops leave the commercial espresso machine on overnight so that there is no warm-up period in the morning.)

Sixth, take the group handle out, remove (and rinse) the blind-filter, and put it away. Use your scouring pad to clean out the basket-end of the group handle under warm running water. Stick the basket-end of the group handle into the soaking bucket to soak overnight. IMPORTANT: Do not allow any portion of the plastic handle to remain immersed. Prolonged soaking of the plastic handle will eventually cause it to dry out and crack.

Seventh, clean the shower heads. The shower heads are up inside the grouphead. Look up inside the grouphead. There will be a screw that holds in a shower screen and a brass plate. Take the screw out, and put it into a cup that you will leave on top of the commercial espresso machine so that you will know where it is in the morning. Remover the screen and brass plate. Scrub them both with your scouring pad, and put them in the soaking bucket.

Eighth, pull the gratings off of the drip tray. Pull the drip tray out and drain it. Clean the drip tray and gratings, and leave them out to dry overnight. Don't put them back into the commercial espresso machine until morning, when they have completely dried.

Ninth, take some window cleaner and some paper towels and buff up your commercial espresso machine. Go out onto the coffee shop floor - where the customers stand - and look at the back of your commercial espresso machine. Buff it up with cleaner and make it shine.

Before Opening in the Morning

In the morning, you will put together all of the parts that you took apart and cleaned. These are the steps that you should follow.

First, put the drip tray and gratings, now dry, back into your commercial espresso machine. Then tun your commercial espresso machine on. Remember that the steam wands are open. Leave them open and continue to the following steps. When your commercial espresso machine heats up and starts to regain pressure, the steam wands will start to hiss. When you hear them hissing, stop what you are doing temporarily, and shut them off. You will know when your commercial espresso machine is ready to operate by looking at the pressure gauges.

Second, take all of the components out of the soaking bucket, rinse them off under running water, and leave them to drain on clean towels, or in a drainer. Pour out the soaking solution, rinse out the bucket, and put it away.

Third, take the screen, brass plate, and screw (that you left in the cup on top of the commercial espresso machine) and reassemble the shower head within the grouphead. Put your filter baskets with your group handles.

Fourth, put the (now dry) hopper back on top of your commercial coffee grinder. Pour the coffee beans (that you had stored in an airtight container) back into the hopper.

Fifth, calibrate your grinder, as explained in our article "How to Calibrate Your Coffee Grinder to Make Perfect Espresso."

You are now ready to open for business.

...written by your friends at The Coffee Brewers