A Clean Machine - The Secret to Coffee Excellence

by Amy Gross @ Urnex Brands, Inc.

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The essence of the coffee that we enjoy comes from natural oils that are largely responsible for coffee's aroma and flavor. Just as we enjoy the elegant sophistication of this natural oil, if it is left to accumulate on coffee or espresso equipment, coffee oil will have a negative impact on the taste of coffee.

The bad news: Even if you begin your coffee preparation by buying the freshest beans and brew your coffee according to every technique and standard of quality, the entire coffee experience will be ruined if your machine isn't properly cleaned. This negative experience is caused by old deposited coffee oils that accumulate on the inside of your machine that quickly oxidize and turn rancid. This rancid oil build-up is the root of bitter tasting coffee. Furthermore, if your machine isn't properly cared for, the soils inside of your machine will eventually clog its filters and tubes and cause it to malfunction.

The good news: Cleaning is a quick, easy, and inexpensive way to ensure that you keep serving the best tasting coffee possible! Routine and diligent cleaning will significantly elevate your coffee program.

Below you will find a detailed summary of how to properly clean espresso, coffee, and home equipment.

You can also see the Cafiza, Grindz, and Rinza products in action on the BPS® "Cleaning with Urnex" Youtube Playlist.

Espresso Machine Cleaning:

Backflushing (Daily):

For traditional espresso machines, backflushing is the technique used to clean the group heads, inner valves, and lines of espresso equipment. It is extremely important to backflush your machine daily in order to remove the coffee oil deposits that accumulate when brewing water comes into contact with coffee during extraction. To backflush, you must do the following:

  1. Remove the filter basket from your portafilter and replace it with a blind filter.
  2. Use a 1/2 teaspoon of detergent such as Cafiza® Espresso Machine Cleaner Powder and activate the brew cycle multiple times (stopping for 10 seconds in between each brew cycle).
  3. Rinse your machine several times (without detergent) after cleaning to get rid of any remaining residue before serving a beverage.

*Making and discarding one shot of espresso after cleaning is recommended to season your machine.

Key Benefits: Daily machine cleaning will ensure that the appearance (crema) and taste of espresso meets your highest quality standards. Regular cleaning will also extend the life of your machine.

Cleaning Tip: Clean group head gaskets with a cleaning brush such as Scoopz™ Espresso Brush.

Super Automatic Espresso Machine Cleaning (Daily):

For fully automatic espresso machines, it's important to run a cleaning cycle using Cafiza® Espresso Machine Cleaning Tablets and follow your machine manufacturer's maintenance and cleaning instructions.

Auto Frother and Steam Wand Cleaning (Daily):

In addition to backflushing, it is necessary to clean the milk residue on auto frothers and steam wands. If left unattended, milk protein build-up can clog equipment and drastically affect the taste of your beverage, since espresso and milk are the two key ingredients in coffee beverages.

To effectively remove the milk proteins that form on auto frothers and steam wands you must do the following:

Auto Frothers

  1. Mix solution of 20ml of Rinza® Milk Frother Cleaner per 500 ml of potable water. Run entire solution through frother. Always be sure to thoroughly RINSE all components and use in accordance with your machine instructions.

Steam Wands

  1. Soak your steam wand for 15-30 minutes in a solution of Rinza® and hot water. Rinse all components.

Key Benefits: Using Rinza® will prevent clogging and eliminate bacteria that form on the steam wand of your machine.

Cleaning Tip: Throughout the day, it's useful to purge excess milk and wipe down steam wand after use with a cloth or Café Wipz™ Coffee Equipment Cleaning Wipes.

Porta-Filters (Weekly):

Remove coffee baskets and soak porta-filters in a solution of 1 teaspoon (6 g) of Cafiza® Powder per 32 oz. (1 L) of hot water without submerging the plastic portion of the handle. After soaking, be sure to rinse with clean hot water.

Coffee Cleaning:

• Daily: Clean drip brewers and servers, wipe under spray heads

Drip Coffee Brewing Equipment - Servers, Urns, Glass Bowls, Airpots, etc.:

Like espresso equipment, the accumulation of coffee oils on your drip coffee equipment can lead to bitter tasting coffee and machine malfunction. Choosing the cleaning solution for your coffee equipment is largely based on personal preference, as cleaners for coffee equipment are available in tablet, powder, and liquid forms. Urnex Brands, Inc. recommends using Tabz™ Coffee Equipment Cleaning Tablets - specifically designed for use on all forms of brewing equipment. To clean your coffee equipment all you have to do is the following:

  1. Place a Tabz™ in the center of your brew basket.
  2. Press brew.
  3. Rinse.

Key Benefits: This brew-in place method allows you to clean the brew basket and server at once. In addition, the tablets allow for easy dosing.

Cleaning Tip: Use a concentrated solution to clean multiple vessels!

Grinder Cleaning:

Espresso Grinders and Shop Grinders:

Grinders are another critical component to perfecting coffee and espresso preparation. If grinders aren't cleaned properly, they will eventually clog and jam. In addition, stale coffee that clings to the internal burrs of the grinder will play a role in negatively impacting your final cup of coffee.

Disassembly is the traditional method used for cleaning grinders. While it is effective, it can be an extremely tedious and lengthy process because of all the grinder parts. The Urnex® way of cleaning using Grindz™ Grinder Cleaner allows users to clean their grinder without taking it apart. Requiring no grinder disassembly, Grindz™ users simply run the product through the machine just like coffee.

Key benefits: Grindz™ quickly and effectively removes stale coffee residue and flavored coffee odors from the internal burrs and casings of coffee grinders. The product is also completely all-natural and food-safe!

Cleaning Tip: Be sure to also wipe down grinder hoppers.

Descaling (Periodic):

Water that has extremely high mineral content can affect the taste of your coffee as well as cause scale build up (white deposits of calcium and lime) in the heating elements of your coffee and espresso machines. Using a descaler such as Dezcal™ Activated Scale Remover effectively breaks down scale and improves the quality of your coffee and longevity of your machine.

Key Benefits: The importance of descaling relates to water temperature control, function, water distribution, and machine life. Descaling your machine will help to maintain brewing consistency.

Cleaning Tip: Urnex recommends using a technician for commercial descaling (unless you know how to take apart a machine). Commercial equipment should be descaled bi-annually (seasonally if you live in an area with hard water).

Cleaning at Home:

For coffee enthusiasts, cleaning and maintaining home equipment is the key to enjoying great tasting beverages at home. Urnex has an entire retail portfolio of cleaning and descaling products that will ensure that every cup of coffee you serve is as good as the last.

Note: It is not recommended to use vinegar or dishwashing detergent to clean your machine. Both these alternatives are inferior in effectiveness and negatively impact the taste of your coffee. In addition, multiple rinses are required to get rid of remaining residue. All Urnex® Brand products are odorless, have sud regulation, and are designed specifically for use on coffee and espresso equipment.

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