How to clean and maintain your espresso machine


Keeping your espresso machine clean is extremely important. This is because coffee oils remain on metallic surfaces and become foul over time, resulting in stale and bitter tastes. Additionally, coffee residue and limescale accumulation can obstruct water flow, leading to costly repairs.

Regular maintenance aids in preventing unpleasant-tasting espresso and ensures your machine functions efficiently. The easiest cleaning method involves backflushing, which is running coffee machine-specific detergent through the machine using an empty portafilter basket.

Here are some tips on cleaning and maintaining your professional espresso machine.

Note: Before cleaning your machine, we advise that you look at your user manual or contact the manufacturer if anything is unclear.

Why is it important to clean your espresso machine?

Keeping your espresso maker clean is key to extending its lifespan and maintaining the flavour of your coffee. Whether you own a machine with a water tank or one connected to a water supply, chances are you're using hard water. While hard water is suitable for espresso machines, it can lead to mineral deposits known as "limescale."

Limescale accumulates over time and can block the water lines in your espresso machine, causing it to work harder and consume more energy. This build-up can eventually lead to machine malfunctions, resulting in costly repairs.

Not only does limescale affect the functionality of your espresso maker, but it can also alter the taste of your coffee by diminishing its clarity and flavour characteristics. By blocking water flow through the machine's lines, limescale can impact the quality of the espresso shots produced.

Tips for daily maintenance of your espresso machine

Flush the brew unit. Before and after preparing a shot of espresso, rinse the brew unit. Simply run some water through without attaching the portafilter. This will effectively remove any residual coffee grounds stuck to the filter inside the brew unit. Additionally, the hot water will heat the unit and prevent your coffee from becoming excessively acidic during brewing.

Avoid leaving used coffee grounds in the portafilter. After each use, shake the used grounds out and wipe the portafilter with a dry paper towel. The longer the grounds stay behind, the more challenging it becomes to remove them completely. Remember, used grounds are moist and create a favourable environment for bacteria to thrive.

Clean the steam wand. To keep the steam wand in good condition, it’s advised to release some steam into a cloth before frothing milk. This action helps eliminate any milk residue or trapped condensation within the wand. After frothing, wipe the wand with a damp cloth and release some steam again. At the end of the day, submerge the wand in a milk frothing jug filled with water for an overnight soak to prevent milk and other contaminants from staying on the wand.

Clean the drip tray. It’s important to also clean the espresso maker’s drip tray. Start by removing the drip tray and empty it into the sink. If needed, you can wipe it with a soft sponge and some dishwashing liquid to get rid of any residue. When it’s clean, rinse and dry it thoroughly before reassembling it.

Ensure the exterior of your appliance is also clean. Brewing may cause splashes on the machine's body and tray. It’s advised to quickly wipe off these splashes before they dry and become more challenging to clean. While this does not impact the coffee's taste, a well-maintained espresso maker reflects a café or barista’s professionalism.

Use various cloths. We recommend having a couple of different cloths near your espresso machine. Use one for wiping the body, tray and workspace around the appliance and keep the other (which should be a bit damp) for wiping the steam wand. It's important to wash the second cloth immediately after making milk-based drinks for the day. When cleaning the portafilter, use a paper towel or napkin to remove coffee grounds and oils.

To make daily cleaning even easier, all Maxima’s espresso machines feature a handy automatic cleaning program. Follow step-by-step how this works in your user manual.

Tips for weekly/monthly maintenance of your espresso machine

Depending on how often you make and brew espresso, it's advisable to give your machine a thorough deep clean once a week or at least once a month. First, remove the portafilter and use a brush to clean the inner edges of the brew group. If there are more coffee grounds than you expect, you should clean your machine more often.

Place the blind filter supplied with the machine into a filter holder. Add a spoonful of food-safe detergent for coffee machines into the filter holder. Insert the filter holder into the group you want to clean and initiate the cleaning process.

With Maxima’s espresso machines, you can run the cleaning program in multiple groups simultaneously. Once rinsed, we recommend brewing an espresso shot to eliminate any unpleasant flavours after cleaning. This ensures the next brew will be safe and delicious. Our machines also feature a cup-warming area so you can easily keep cups of coffee hot and fresh. You can gently clean these with a damp cloth and a small amount of coffee machine-specific detergent.

Note: Never use aggressive or abrasive cleaning agents. We also don’t recommend solvents or petroleum-based cleaning agents as these may leave a harmful residue or cause damage to the machine.

The limescale problem

Baristas and cafes are going the extra mile to find the perfect method for achieving a smooth coffee texture, but hard water can easily undo their efforts. Hard water can clog the machine, leading to damage and affecting the coffee flavour. To avoid this, you could opt for filtered soft water or use a water softener .

Limescale is a common problem for coffee machines, hence the descaling instructions in many espresso machine manuals. As descaling methods vary among models, carefully follow the specific instructions provided. We also recommend using a descaler specifically for coffee machines.

Without proper descaling, limescale build-up can become a stubborn issue, resistant to even the strongest descalers. Therefore, preventing limescale accumulation in your coffee machine is essential.

FAQS about espresso machines

Can I use vinegar to clean my espresso machine?

You should not use vinegar to descale an espresso machine as it does not interact with scale and bacteria in the same way that a descaling solution does. Descaling solutions target limescale only, without damaging your espresso machine's internal parts. While vinegar can help descale, it may gradually corrode metal components, especially in espresso makers with aluminium tanks.

Any leftover vinegar residue can also significantly impact the taste of your coffee. Opting for a specialised cleaning solution is the best way to preserve both your coffee's flavour and the longevity of your espresso machine.

Can I prevent mineral build-up in my espresso machine?

To prevent mineral deposits in your espresso machine, using filtered water is advised to lower dissolved mineral levels in the appliance. Additionally, regular rinsing and cleaning of removable components can help minimise accumulation.

Tip: Avoid using distilled water in certain machines as it can attract metal ions due to its composition, potentially causing deterioration of the metal parts over time.

How often should I clean my espresso machine?

We recommend cleaning and disinfecting your espresso machine daily. Thoroughly clean the appliance and accessories after every use with a soft cloth and a food-safe detergent. You should also clean the surface of your machine at least once a week. Simply wipe down the exterior with a cloth to keep it clean and dust-free.

Maintaining your espresso machine is crucial for the optimal taste of your coffee and the longevity of your appliance. A clean machine also promotes hygiene and ensures your customers can safely consume your beverages. While cleaning your espresso machine requires some time and effort, it's worth it to keep it in top condition. By keeping these tips and steps for maintenance in mind, your espresso machine will be clean and ready for your next delicious cup of coffee!

Maxima’s espresso machines are durable, user-friendly and easy to clean. Explore them now on!