Bathing a naked portafilter

September 02, 2011

In a previous post I spared you all the gory details of my experience cleaning the naked portafilter that came with my used Gaggia Carezza. I’d like to pick up where I left off and fill in the blanks a bit here.

Background: as described elsewhere, my naked portafilter's handle is missing the half-moon insert that closes it off, and one night the light in my kitchen hit this open end just right, allowing me a glimpse of a rusty hex bolt and some muck inside. Yuck. The portafilter looked easy enough to disassemble with the right tools, and sure enough it was.


-- socket wrench

-- socket wrench extender [needed because the bolt is several inches deep inside the handle; I picked one up for $4 at a local hardware store]

-- 10mm socket

-- 10mm replacement bolt [optional; mandatory in my case, though, as you can see below]

A little muscle, and violà. Just look at all the rust on the end of the metal portafilter body and on the bolt! I can only assume that the previous owner soaked the portafilter often and/or put the whole thing in the dishwasher and then habitually failed to dry it properly.

/files/u5804/disassembled-portafilter.jpg" height="374" width="500" />

To get everything clean, here’s what I did:

1. Ran the plastic handle alone through the dishwasher (with heated dry set to "off"). That caused no issues whatsoever and got rid of most of the gunk inside. Afterward, there was still some rust bonded to the plastic around where the old bolt was attached. For that I used a little mixture of salt and lime juice applied directly to the affected areas. I then gave the handle a quick 5-minute soak in a JoeGlo solution (alternative to Cafiza) before rinsing and drying it.

2. Soaked the metal portafilter body in a JoeGlo solution for 20 minutes and then scrubbed using an old toothbrush. At one point I thought I was done, but then I discovered that some of the golden parts didn't look that way simply because the chrome had worn away and exposed the brass underneath but rather because they were covered in residue of some sort. A soft metal pick plus more soaking took care of those.

Here’s the clean metal portafilter body prior to reassembly:

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And here’s the final product upside down in its full naked glory:

/files/u5804/photo1-15.jpg" height="374" width="500" />

I imagine any Gaggia portafilter should come apart in about the same way I’ve described above. Regardless, whether you have a Gaggia or some other machine, you might want to take a look inside the portafilter handle from time to time after it’s reached a certain age as a precaution. An added benefit of this simple procedure is that during reassembly you’ll be able to tighten everything up. My handle used to have a little wiggle before; now it’s solid as a rock.

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