Look after your coffee machine, clean it regularly, ensure its serviced on schedule and it will thank you with many years of faithful service.
It’s that cleaning part we’re going to discuss today.
You probably put a lot of thought into cleaning your office and ensuring your surroundings are hygienically clean and safe to work in.
Do you do the same for your coffee machine?
As the one amenity that keeps staff satisfied, it’s essential to keep it clean and running smoothly.
Fortunately, most modern coffee machines come with self-cleaning features that remove much of the manual work of the old days.
Even though the machine largely takes care of itself, there are still things you need to know about keeping it clean.
Why cleaning is vital for every coffee machine
There are some obvious reasons why a coffee machine should be kept clean and some not-so obvious reasons.
Reliability and operating life
Clean your coffee machine regularly and you reduce the chances of breakdown due to blocked pipes and clogged foamers.
This is especially true for bean to cup machines using fresh milk. It is important to keep the brewer clean with a coffee cleaning cycle and a separate milk cleaning procedure for the milk system.
Keeping your coffee machine clean also reduces wear on moving parts. The grinder mechanism is one key area, but there are others.
Any dirt or debris left between moving parts will increase wear and will reduce operating life.
Coffee taste and texture
Another key reason why you should keep your coffee machine clean is to preserve the taste of drinks.
Any old milk, coffee grounds, syrup or flavouring within the machine can impact the flavour of the drinks that follow.
When you’re spending good money on a quality coffee machine and quality roasted beans, that’s not ideal.
Speed and efficiency
Forcing milk or steam through a clogged or calcified nozzle will be slower and less efficient. It may also redirect the steam spray in undesired directions.
While this is a minor downside of a dirty coffee machine, if your staff regularly use a foamer or steam nozzle, you want them to be safe.
How to clean your coffee machine
Different coffee machines will have different cleaning cycles and mechanisms to clean so we will provide a general overview here.
The manufacturer of the coffee machine, or the supplier should always be on hand with advice on cleaning and maintaining your machine. They would normally train staff on the cleaning process on installation. It’s always a good idea to have a few people present at training so that they can cover each other.
Otherwise, follow some or all of these steps.
Use the daily clean cycle
Most newer coffee machines will have a built-in cleaning cycle that will perform the vast majority of tasks necessary to keep it clean.
There will be a daily cleaning cycle that will flush through the pipes and clean the coffee side of the machine. If your machine also dispenses fresh milk, there is likely to be a second, separate cycle for the milk side.
Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and schedule for cleaning.
While most machines will take care of the clean automatically, we recommend monitoring and checking the cycle completes properly.
A quick check to ensure everything is clean is usually enough. Otherwise, you may find drinks tainted by old milk or old coffee.
Some coffee machines come with telemetry that logs every cleaning cycle. You, or your supplier can check these logs to ensure the daily cleaning cycle is being performed as required.
Use the manufacturer's cleaning schedule
Some coffee machines will also have a longer or more detailed weekly or monthly cleaning cycle.
Depending on the manufacturer, this might be automatic and run similarly to your daily cycle or it could be more manual.
The supplier should let you know exactly what’s involved and when it’s required. A good supplier will also train staff in how to clean and care for your coffee machine.
Always use the manufacturers recommended products. If you don’t do this you may find your drinks don’t taste as great as they should. The wrong product in a machine can leave a taint in the taste of the coffee.
Backflush your machine if required
A backflush needs to be performed most often on traditional espresso machines.
It involves running clean water through the system at pressure to flush out the pipes in order to keep everything running efficiently and avoiding tainted coffee.
An automatic bean-to-cup machine keeps things in order by regularly rinsing either after a certain number of drinks are made or after a certain period of non use.
Check areas of your coffee machine regularly
There are some key areas of a coffee machine you may, or may not, have to clean
manually or check are being cleaned by the cycle.
Your supplier may perform these checks as part of the package, but it helps to be aware of potential problem areas.
Those areas include:
Steam nozzles – If your machine has a steam nozzle, this will need to be checked and cleaned regularly. Check for scale buildup and ensure the nozzle is being properly cleaned during the cycle.
Coffee bean hopper and grinder – The coffee bean hopper and grinder should be kept clean with a dry brush or damp cloth to keep them clean. Make sure they are fully dry before reloading with beans though.
Milk frother and dispense unit - These parts are usually removable for thorough cleaning,
Mixing bowl - If your machine uses instant products you will need to regularly clean the mixing bowl.
For traditional machines the cleaning routines will include;
Coffee basket – Coffee is ground into baskets before being made and those will need cleaning. The basket also needs to be checked regularly for damage and to remove debris.
Group heads – these should be cleaned and checked regularly.
Keeping your coffee machine clean
The vast majority of the cleaning of an automatic bean-to-cup coffee machine is taken care of automatically via internal cleaning cycles.
Care still needs to be taken to ensure those cycles happen on schedule and deliver the high standard of cleanliness your machine, and your staff need to continue functioning efficiently.
If you’re ever in doubt, consult your user manual or discuss cleaning with your supplier.
Contact Roast & Ground today for expert advice on choosing the perfect office coffee machine.