Group Head Cleaning

Keep Your Espresso Machine in Good Working Order

As the main profit centre within many a business, the espresso machine represents a significant investment and a vital component for the smooth operation of that business. A few basic procedures will not only ensure you service an agreeable product but also reduce the downtime and the cost of servicing. Spending a short amount of time each day making sure the machine is clean and working properly will save you time and money in future service costs.

Before an espresso machine can produce a quality drink, it must have a constant supply of quality water. A consistent clean water supply is more important to the taste of your coffee than the type if beans you choose. A water filtration system that is regularly serviced is highly recommended for your espresso machine. Many filters reduce their water flow as they deteriorate and this can cause damage to your machine or cause your machine not to work through insufficient water pressure. In addition, a water softener/scale inhibitor should be in place, and this must be regeneated on a regular basis to remain effective

One of the most important and most often overlooked areas of an espresso machine is the group head. This area requires special attention because it is where the coffee actually comes in contact with the machine. A simple and essential part of your maintenance routine must include back-flushing. Brewed espresso leaves a substantial residue on all brewing surfaces. This residue gives a bitter, stale flavour to espresso drinks and residue can damage your equipment by clogging dispersion screens, valves, brewing passages and jets.

Regular cleaning with a proprietary cleaner such as Puly Caff is essential to prevent poor tasting coffee.

Group head cleaning by way of back flushing consists of removing one of the filter baskets from the coffee handle, replacing it with a blind filter (one with no holes), placing it onto each group head, and then dispensing water from the group as if pulling a shot. Run the machine in this manner for about 5 seconds, and then stop. The blind filter will cause the water to pressurise, and when you stop extracting it, it will flush back through the group screen and group solenoid (hence the name) and help to clean our any accumulations of coffee grounds and the oils that may have formed. This technique must be done daily with water alone, but at least once a week you should back flush with cleaner such as Puly Caff. To use the cleaner, simply place a tea spoon full on top of the blind filter before back-flushing. Run the group in 10 second intervals several times. After back-flushing with Puly Caff, it is important to remove the coffee handle and run the group again to rinse out all remaining cleaner. At this point it is a good idea to back-flush several more times with water only, to ensure that no detergent remains within the solenoid discharge valve. This process will greatly reduce the amount of coffee oil accumulation within the group head and solenoid and help to ensure great tasting espresso. In addition to back-flushing, the group gaskets should be cleaned every day to help maintain a positive seal between the group head and the portafilter. This is best accomplished using a specially designed group head cleaning brush and hot water to vigorously scrub around the seal surface.

Your daily maintenance should include, purging and cleaning of the steam wands with warm soapy water and a non-abrasive cloth to remove all milk residue. The drip tray should be removed and a jug of hot water should be poured into the drainage cup to help rinse accumulated coffee grounds out of the cup and down through the drain hose.

Even with regular back-flushing, the group head shower screens must be periodically replaced, as coffee oils will eventually build up and clog the screen. You may notice your espresso shots tasting less than perfect as a result. Another sure sign of screen build-up and clog the screen. You may notice your espresso shots tasting less than perfect as a result. Another sure sign of screen build-up is water spraying out in all directions rather than an even and constant flow while running the group with the filter removed. Either of these should prompt you to replace the screens, which can be done quite easily.

Performing regular maintenance will not only ensure a quality that you and your customers can taste, but will help alleviate costly repair bills. Although you should have your equipment periodically inspected by a factory-trained engineer, there are many minor adjustments and simple repairs that any owner/ operator could perform with a small quantity of tools, saving you valuable time and money.

Even if you choose not to perform any repairs yourself, understanding what is required will make it much easier for you to communicate problems to your engineer and in turn, save you money on diagnosis and repair.

You can contact The Espresso Shop if you would like our service department to repair or service your machines or want to buy, or lease a commercial cappuccino espresso coffee machine within the UK.