Espresso machines are worth big bucks so it stands to reason that we need to take good care of our investments. I realize that many machines have built in cleaning functions and cleaning schedules and settings to keep you up to date but the truth of the matter is that there is more you could be doing to get the most out of you machine and prolong the life of any espresso machines that you may be using.
So what can you do? To start out you must realize that coffee oils and the little bits of coffee grounds left in a machine go rancid within an hour or so, so it is in your interest and the interest of anyone drinking your coffee to keep your machine as clean as possible all of the time. From time to time run some extra water through your machine to clean out any oil and run any clean functions on a regular basis.
You can also scrub the filter and preform a back flush, so machines will allow you to do this on others you may need to do it manually. Scrubbing with a mildly abrasive sponge is suggested as well as a small amount of dish soap.
The steam wand should be cleaned on at least a daily basis. It has the potential to suck milk into the system and of course this is not favorable, especially if the wand is not cleaned on a regular basis. You can clean the wand by steaming water the same way you would steam milk or by submerging the wand in water and dish soap for a few minutes.
On a daily basis you should also back flush with a coffee detergent to break down any excess oil and residue. Soak any removal parts in a solution of hot water and coffee detergent to remove any other excess coffee oil.
On a monthly basis you need to do a major overhaul. Of course you need to follow any manufacture instructions, but you should also check to make sure that any water filters are still up to date and functioning properly. Accumulation of chemicals or other foreign material in a water filter can taint the water.
One an annual or biannual basis you should also do a major overhaul. This means getting all of the calcium out. This can mean taking an espresso machine apart and scraping off any excess white calcium build up the decalcification tablets don’t reach.
Keeping your machine clean is the most important thing you can do to prolong the life of your investment. And, I talk about it as an investment because many high quality espresso machines are used to make a lot of money for their owners.