If you’re a barista or an avid espresso drinker, one of the most important things is to keep your espresso machine clean. A critical part of maintaining your machine is backwashing, which is the process of flushing out the build-up of coffee oils and residue from the brewing group and portafilter. Neglecting to do this can result in clogged screens, poor water flow, and a decline in the quality of your espresso shots. In this post, we’ll walk you through the process of backwashing your espresso machine.

Step 1: Prepare the Cleaning Solution

You’ll need a backflush detergent that is specifically designed for espresso machines. Make sure you follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer. Usually, you’ll need to mix the detergent with warm water in a container.

Step 2: Remove the Portafilter Basket

Remove the basket from the portafilter and rinse it under hot water to remove any loose coffee grounds. Place the basket in the detergent solution to soak.

Step 3: Insert the Blind Filter

Insert the blind filter into the portafilter, which is a filter without any holes. This will allow the detergent solution to circulate through the group head and clean it.

Step 4: Backwash the Machine

Insert the portafilter into the group head and start the backwash cycle. Depending on your machine, the backwash cycle may vary in length. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Step 5: Rinse the Group Head

Once the cycle is complete, remove the portafilter and blind filter. Rinse the group head thoroughly with hot water to remove any remaining detergent residue.

Step 6: Clean the Portafilter and Basket

Remove the portafilter basket from the detergent solution and rinse it under hot water. Scrub the portafilter with a brush to remove any remaining coffee oils and residue.

Step 7: Reassemble and Test

Reassemble the portafilter and basket and run a few shots of water through the group head to ensure that all the detergent residue has been removed.

By following these simple steps, you’ll be able to backwash your espresso machine and keep it running at its best. Regular backwashing will not only help to maintain the quality of your espresso shots, but it will also extend the life of your machine. Remember to always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and use the appropriate backflush detergent for your machine. Happy brewing!

For more expert advice on everything coffee, book a Barista School course in Cape Town or Johannesburg today.