I'm a very new Barista, only since March.
The woman who trained me (minimally) claimed that we should never, ever clean the portafilters?
Is she wrong? Won't all this old discharge from hundreds of shots effect the espresso?
I find the company I'm working for worries too much about quantity and out put vs. true quality as far as espresso goes. (This among other problems)
Just looking for some guidance!

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Yup... she's certifiably insane.

Grab a green scrubbie pad and scour the hell out of them at night.

Or... if you're lazy like me and don't feel like scouring them, put them in a Cafiza/Puro Caff solution over night and rinse them off in the morning.

She did tell you to clean the machine throughout the day right?

She is, in fact, very very wrong. You should wash the portafilters always when it's possible. Cleaner is better. I wipe the spouts each and every time before brewing. I flush hot water trough the portafilters after every 5th shot or so. I remove the filters and clean the portafilters and the filter baskets with a brush at least once every hour.

There's a school believing that a small amount of residual grease from coffee inside the filter is a good thing and helps to prevent channeling is a good thing. I personally think it's loads of bollocks since grease is a hydrophobic substance. Besides, I'd rather have things clean and delicious and prevent the channeling by other means.
2 Andre Guimond: "claimed that we should never, ever clean the portafilters"

She is wrong. Everything should be as clean as possible. That is partly a reason why we ditched the spouts and went for bottomless portafilters—less things between the coffee and the cup—less flawor alteration. http://marmelada.eu/wp-content/2009/10/bezednapaka_DSC1592.jpg Also, clean the head gasket whenever possible, flush, clean the space around the gasket (loose coffee grounds get stuck there).
Hi Andre,

Like these guys have said already... you gotta clean!....lol Cleanliness is next to Godliness or something eh?..lol
But seriously, as already mentioned, its worth cleaning the portafilters regularly, you don't have to go mad with it, but its always good practice to be clean.

Kim xx
Agreed 100% with previous posters.

Coffee oils go rancid and impart a nasty flavor to fresh beans that contact them.

All surfaces that the coffee contacts, ever, in its life after roasting should be clean. By clean, I mean you should see clean bare metal, glass, or plastic. Zero brown buildup allowed. Clean, bare metal only in portafilters, inside the spouts, screens (inside and out), dispersion plates, jetbreakers, baskets, grinder throat, grinder burrs, grind chamber, grinder chute, etc. You will taste any brown buildup.

A light coating of fresh coffee oil is all that is required to "season" screens and portafilters. No more than is generated by a single shot. Any more will be detrimental to espresso flavor.

The same applies to milk pitchers. Milk pitchers should have zero white film. Totally clean and shiny - like new.

The same applies to steamwands. No white or brown buildup allowed anywhere on the wand or tip.

Removing the black or brown coating from heavily soiled surfaces will be difficult. However, once they are clean you can easily maintain this cleanliness with a little regular effort.

As a service tech, I see lots of filthy surfaces and they are all cleanable. Don't let anyone tell you that a surface can't be cleaned. Our bar uses a 10 year old espresso machine, 5-10 year old grinders, and 3 year old steam pitchers. Every single surface meets the criteria I described at this moment right now.
Did we mention that this lady's nuts? 'cause she is. Clean your equipment! :)
Thanks every body!
I jsut joined the site litterally last night, don't even know if I can be considered "Barista" I'm such a newb however, I've very impressed by the feed back. I was up all last night watching vids on machines and I think some one has to take a serious look at our machines because they're not maintained to the standards ya'll are describing.
My question next question is...where do I go next? Tonight I'm going to go in and "scour the hell out of them" - Bryan Wray
i wouldn't be a nazi about the regiment of cleaning.. but definitely soak them up to the neck of the plastic /Bake-lite handles.
* Draw some hot water from the spigot in to a 1 liter S.Steel. pitcher...enough room for 2 portofilters
* put 4 tea spoons of "Pully Caf/ Urnex powder and let the cleaning solution work.
i like to sit it on the stove and simmer to keep the mixture warm for 20 odd minutes.

YOU should also once a week take the shower screens off the machine and soak at the same time
(if you have E 61 type groups its not easily removed unless you wan to change the group gaskets)
Yeah buddy! She's a little crazy! She might be thinking that the portafilters are like cast iron skillets that need to be seasoned? Who knows....but Brady is correct-o.

Just for the fun of it...pull a few shots, taste them. Them, scrape off some coffee oil goo from the filterbasket and give it a taste. You'll find that your espresso has the same taste. And it's gross. Then go clean everything up real good and taste it all again. Little bit better? Hope so.

Bryan already sort of mentioned this, but if she recommended never cleaning the portafilters, did she also not mention the incredibly important act of backflushing your groupheads regularly? Please let us know if not.

Good grief.
I once got yelled at by the owner for soaking a portafilter for a week that had been left in the back office for a year and had stained black where the chrome wore away. Yes, the chrome wears away, why do they still put it on the inside of portafilters? It just ends up in the drinks...

Nathanael May said:
Bryan already sort of mentioned this, but if she recommended never cleaning the portafilters, did she also not mention the incredibly important act of backflushing your groupheads regularly? Please let us know if not.

Good grief.

Yea, No one ever mentioned this. i picked it up on my own. The owners feel that the machines are a huge investment and that if anyone else touches them it will end up broken. So actual good cleaning of the groupheads and such rarely happens. The other people who I work with think cleaning the machine is windexing the chromey parts. Sure it looks nice and clean but the coffee its putting out is sub par at best because of the poor cleaning of the group heads and portafilters. Is there anything else you guys think I should know about cleaning the parts? Its hard to clean the group heads when I'm one of 5 people using the maching and I;m the only one back flushing the groupheads, coffee gets caked on the insides of them and its near impossible to clean. Suggestions?

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