We Aussies love a good drop of beer, wine, coffee; according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 46% of us are coffee drinkers. Canstar reports that we each spend an average of $287 on home coffee machines, and almost two thirds of us use them every day.
But ask yourself: when was the last time you deep cleaned your coffee machine? Be honest. If you’re like many Australians, you might put off cleaning your coffee machine for months at a time, or even avoid it altogether. This can be a recipe for some seriously bad coffee, and even potential health risks.
If you’re going on holiday and aren’t going to be using your coffee machine for a while, or if you’re buying a used or antique machine, the most important ingredient in making sure it stays in top brewing condition is to clean it thoroughly.
To take us through the process, Greg from 7 Grams Coffee has prepared this handy guide.
Why clean your coffee machine?
Before we start our discussion on how to deep clean your coffee maker, let’s talk about the importance of keeping your coffee maker clean and hygienic. You may be wondering, is it really necessary to clean my coffee maker? Isn’t this a lot of unnecessary work?
Cleaning your coffee maker not only prevents you from having to sip stale or sour-tasting coffee, but it can also prevent you from getting seriously ill. Believe it or not, if left uncleaned, coffee machines can harbour large amounts of bacteria, yeast, and mould. In fact, one study found that coffee machines can contain more bacteria than bathroom surfaces!
Some of the reasons to clean your coffee maker:
- Eliminates the buildup of bacteria, yeast and mould
- Removes coffee ground residue
- Makes better-tasting coffee
- It’s easy!
It’s recommended you clean your machine once a month, so it may be a good idea to mark this on your calendar. Sticking to the same day each month will help you to remember and stay on schedule.
Now that we know why coffee machines need deep cleaning, let’s look at how to clean them.
Step 1: Preparing Your Materials
To deep clean your coffee machine, you’ll need the following materials:
- Solution of half white vinegar and half water
- Pure water
- Warm soapy water
- Sponge or cloth.
As you can see, very few materials are needed. You probably already have most of these on hand, or can get them for a few dollars at any supermarket.
Pro Tip: Most modern coffee machines have cleaning instructions in the manufacturer’s manual. If you still have the manual, this could be a good general method to follow. However, they usually recommend pricey brand-name materials – but if you’d rather spend your dollars on better beans than overpriced chemicals, follow this guide.
Step 2: Cleaning with Vinegar
- First, fill the reservoir of your coffee maker with the half vinegar/half water solution.
- Place a large container (e.g. Tupperware tub) beneath the portafilter and steam wand.
- Turn the machine on and run it until half of the solution has passed through the portafilter.
- Run the steam wand for 30 seconds – 1 minute.
- If there’s any solution left in the reservoir, run the rest of it through the portafilter.
Be careful: For some models, using vinegar for deep cleaning isn’t recommended. If you’re unsure whether to use vinegar or not, consult the manual. Most manuals are available online, in case you’ve misplaced yours.
Step 3: Cleaning with Water
Repeating the above procedure with water will ensure that your coffee is free of any vinegar taste.
- Fill the reservoir with pure water.
- Turn the coffee maker on and run it until half the solution has passed through the portafilter.
- Run the steam wand for 1-2 minutes.
Step 4: Cleaning Removable Parts
It’s also a good idea to wash any removable parts. The easiest way to do this is by simply washing all removable parts in a dishwasher. However, you can also use a towel and soapy water to wash the parts by hand.
To complete your cleaning, you will want to use a damp cloth to wipe down the outsides of the machine.
You may also want to invest in a few brushes to clean the group head (the slot your portafilter* screws into), and to clean the filter basket, place it over a gas flame for a few minutes, tapping occasionally (this dries out the stuck coffee fibres and helps dislodge them from the tiny filter holes).
*The portafilter is just the detachable part of your machine that extracts the coffee bean essence and adds this to the hot water as it passes through. If you have a pod coffee maker, the portafilter is the piece that holds the pod.
If you’re of a pod coffee maker person, you can follow the same basic procedure as described above. Just make sure there’s no pod in the machine when you begin, then brew one cup of vinegar solution, followed by two cups of water (separately).
There are of course other ways to clean a coffee maker; however, this is the most common procedure. Hopefully this tutorial served to show you the importance and the ease of cleaning your coffee machine. While you should rinse the parts of the coffee machine each time you use it, remember to perform this deep cleaning, decalcifying procedure once a month.
Now that the cleaning is taken care of, you may be interested in learning more about how to store your appliances with our Appliances Storage Guide.
Greg is a Marketing Manager at 7 Grams Coffee, an office coffee and machine supplier for 300+ offices around Australia. He enjoys hiking, reading and spreading the word about high-quality coffee.