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Maintaining Semi Automatic Espresso Machines

Maintaining Semi Automatic Espresso Machines
Category: Maintenance and Care
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Synopsis: Cleaning your espresso machine is important in order maintain its performance.

Please read the instruction manual that came with the espresso machine before using these instructions.

The instructions given below are just general guide lines for most pump driven espresso machines. We will not accept any responsibilities for damage done to your machine by following these instructions.


How to Clean the Group Head

   
Coffee is a fruit and contains natural oils. If not cleaned regularly, old coffee oils and deposits can cause your coffee to taste bitter and rancid.

Daily Cleaning:

 
Ensure that there are no coffee grinds left on the rim of the portafilter to protect the gasket from wear. Just slide the palm of your hand over the rim before inserting the portafilter into the group head.

When finished brewing, remove the portafilter immediately. Rinse out the filter basket. Turn on the pump briefly to rinse out the shower head.

Clean the upper shower screen and gasket with a wet towel or soft group head cleaning brush.

Weekly Cleaning:

 
For best results, soak the group head upper shower screen, gasket seal, porta filter and filter basket on a weekly base in a container using one of the following special cleaners:

  Urnex Cafiza® Espresso Machine Cleaner Powder
  Urnex Cleancaf® Brand Cleaner and Descaler

The cleaner will remove the old coffee oils and deposits. It will also prevent coffee from building up on the shower screen that eventually plugs it up. Hold the shower screen and filter basket up against a bright light. You should be able to see thru the tiny holes otherwise you know it is plugged and is restricting the water flow.
Shower Screen
Filter Basket
Rancilio Miss Silvia Group Head Gasket
Group Head Basket
 
Savinelli Portafilter SUITABLE FOR: CIMBALI
Portafilter
   


Backflushing Espresso Machines

Only machines with a three-way valve can be backflushed.

Typically, backflushing is performed on commercial machines on a daily base. Manufacturers of home machines such as Rancilio and Gaggia do not recommend backflushing.

   

How do I know if my machine has a 3-Way Valve

After brewing, if your machine releases water pressure into the drip tray after you turn off the pump, the machine features a 3-way valve.

Why should I backflush my espresso machine

If the daily cleaning and descaling procedures  are followed, there is really no need to backflush. If the 3-way valve fails, backflushing might help to clean out coffee residues from the valve. The following symptoms might indicate that the 3-way valve is not functioning:

  • Water is leaking thru the 3-way valve into the drip tray while brewing
  • Slow brewing (low pressure) suddenly even though you haven't changed any of the brewing parameters

How to Backflush an Espresso Machine

Use the following cleaner to backflush your espresso maker:

  Urnex Cafiza® Espresso Machine Cleaner Powder

You'll also need a blind filter basket or disk (see right).

Blind Filter Basket
Blind Filter Basket (disk)

  • When the espresso machine is in ready mode (hot), insert the blind filter into the porta filter (remove the original filter basket first).
  • Add about half a tea spoon of cleaner into the porta filter and put it into the group head.
  • Turn on the pump for about 15 seconds or until the pump turns quiet (pressure built up) and turn off pump.
  • The pressure will be release into the drip tray, flushing back the cleaning solution into the group head.
  • Repeat this process about every 30 seconds until you see clean foam discharging into the drip tray.
  • Clean out the portafilter and repeat just with water to clean out any residues.
  • Remove the portafilter all together and flush water thru the group head to remove any residues.


How to Descale (Delime, Decalcify)


During the normal course of operation, and even when the machine is not used, mineral deposits commonly referred to as limescale will accumulate inside your machine. To remove these deposits and to keep your machine operating properly you will need to descale the machine about every 3 to 4 months.

During the normal course of operation, and even when the machine is not used, mineral deposits commonly referred to as limescale will accumulate inside your machine. To remove these deposits and to keep your machine operating properly you will need to descale the machine about every 3 to 4 months.

To descale the machine, use only a descaler (also known as decalcifier) for espresso machines:

  descaling solution

These descaling solutions are intended to be mixed in the proper proportions with a full tank of water. Do not use vinegar!

Add the descaling solution to a full tank of water and place the tank in the machine. Turn on the power switch and then prime the machine. Allow the machine to heat to operating temperature and then run one quarter of the tank through the machine. Of the quarter tank you run through, allow solution to alternately flow through both the steam wand and the brew head .

Do not run descaling solution through the filter holder. Wait 10 to 15 minutes and then run another quarter tank through the machine in the same manner. Let stand for 10 to 15 minutes again. Repeat process until the water tank is almost empty. Do not run the machine when water tank is completely empty.

To flush the machine, rinse the water tank thoroughly and fill it with fresh, cold water. Run the full tank of fresh water through the machine alternating between the steam wand and the brew head until the tank is almost empty.



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