Last week, we kicked off our New Year's coffee resolution series
by talking about ways to find new coffees
and new ways of brewing your coffee
. This week, we take the next step and talk about ways to keep your coffee making equipment clean. Cleaning your coffee equipment - from grinder to carafe - is an often-cited step in ensuring that your coffee is consistently excellent. It will also prolong the life of the equipment you use to make your daily brew. While most articles about improving your coffee will tell you to keep your coffee maker clean, it's a lot harder to come by information on the how and when. Here's what you should know.
Manual Coffee Brewers
- Remove the filter and rinse the brewer immediately after brewing your coffee. If necessary, use a soft cloth to wipe around any ridges or ribs on the inside of the brewer to remove any coffee oils collected there.
- Rinse the Chemex with hot water immediately after emptying the pot. If it needs more than a rinse -- if, for example, your coffee sat in it for a few hours -- use a dishwashing wand to get around the inside of the pot. They're basically a sponge on a stick that you can find in the housewares aisle of any supermarket for about two bucks.
Automatic Drip Coffeemakers
- Empty and clean the filter basket immediately after each use.
- Gently wipe the underside of the showerhead -- the part where the water dribbles down over the coffee. It's one of those places that most people overlook when cleaning a coffeemaker, but it can collect a lot of rancid coffee oil over time.
- Follow the manufacturer instructions for descaling your machine. Grandma used to run a cup of vinegar through the coffeemaker once a month to do that, but your house will smell like pickles for hours. Instead, look for Urnex and Full Circle products meant especially for descaling automatic drip coffee brewers. They cost a little more than vinegar, but you don't want to pickle your machine. You want to clean it.
- Cleaning your espresso machine is a bit more complicated than cleaning a drip coffee brewer. There are a lot more moving parts to consider, so to speak.
- Empty the portafilter every time you make a shot. While you have the portafilter off, run the pump for a few seconds to rinse away any coffee or grounds from the shower screen. Rinse the portafilter holder. If necessary, push a toothpick through the spouts in the portafilter holder to clear out any blockage. Note: if you have to do that, take it as a hint that you really have to step up your coffee cleanliness game!
- Follow the manufacturer's instructions with regards to cleaning the group head and shower screen. For many machines, this means backflushing with a dedicated cleaning product like Full Circle Coffee Equipment Wash.
- Follow the manufacturer instructions for descaling your machine regularly.
- Wipe down the steam wand to remove any milk residue. A product like Full Circle Milk Wash is designed specifically to remove milk proteins that can bake onto the wand.
- Empty the drip tray and wipe it out regularly.
Siphon Coffee Makers
Wash the carafe and brewer after every use. Don't forget to clean any other parts that come into contact with the coffee.
Permanent Coffee Filters
Rinse under running water after every use. If necessary, use a soft brush to dislodge any coffee grounds or coffee residue.
Clean with Full Circle Milk Wash following manufacturer's instructions.
It only takes a few extra minutes to make sure that your equipment is clean after using it, but investing those few minutes will guarantee that all you taste in your cup is that perfectly brewed cup of coffee.