Espresso machines, like most things related to coffee, are not a low maintenance thing. Even those who own super automatics have to do a good and thorough cleaning from time to time. Traditional espresso machines need a lot of tender loving care to keep pouring out the good stuff, and I never cease to be amazed at how much of an improvement a little bit of elbow grease can give you. Far too many people neglect cleaning their machines, but if you want the absolute best espresso you can get, you need to take care of that machine!
In this Tips and Tricks article, we’ll be looking at a maintenance routine that is crucial to any machine with a pressure release system, often called a 3 way solenoid valve. Most machines over $400 feature this kind of instant pressure relief in the group head when you end your espresso shot – the purpose is to make it fast and safe when removing the portafilter after brewing. This special release valve, which directs all the built up pressure into a waste area (usually the drip tray) has one unfortunate side effect, making the machines more labor intensive. This side effect is a rapid increase of what can only be described as “coffee gunk” in and around the group head and dispersion screen.
After a few weeks, it can get pretty nasty, even if you back flush regularly. So you need to clean and maintain the group head and dispersion screen. Here’s how you do it.
(Note, those without pressure release systems in their espresso machines can also do this maintenance to help improve their espresso quality).
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