The Essential Guide to Equipment Maintenance
Part of having great coffee every day is making sure your tools, coffee machines and other equipment are properly maintained. After all, lots of effort and money were put into these investments. So whether you’re new to having an espresso machine or just need a refresher, you’ve come to the right place.
To guide you, here are the things you must know about equipment maintenance.
The importance of proper maintenance
You have put time into figuring out which espresso machine is the right one for you. You have invested a big chunk of money to get quality coffee machines for your restaurant or cafe. Once you get it, you also need to know how to take care of it. This way, you can help it help you in your business for a longer period of time.
Equipment maintenance should not be considered a chore. Instead, you can look at it as a protection for your money, and a way to extend the life of your investment machine. At the end of the day, you want a piece of well-maintained equipment that serves great coffee. So why slack in doing so?
Prevent common issues
The average lifespan of espresso machines is 8-10 years. In some cases, it exceeds this time period especially if it’s a good brand and you keep its maintenance as a priority.
Some of the common issues when in case of failure to maintain the machine include:
- Coffee flows either too slow or too fast
- The steam wand does not steam (or inconsistent)
- Blockages in filters and pipes
- Weird taste in your coffee
When one or two of these happen, it’s unfortunately a huge hurdle for a busy business day. Fret not though, as these things can surely be avoided when you properly take care of your machine.
Checking your machine should be done regularly to avoid corrective maintenance. This also prevents downtime or a closed cafe during business hours.
To avoid any troubles or inconveniences, here is the suggested maintenance schedule and what to do:
- You should never leave your used coffee grounds. You never want these to cause blockage in filters.
- Rinse your machine’s filter screen and portafilter gently for 3 seconds. Wipe with a clean rag or cloth after. It will only take a few seconds of your time.
- Clean your steam wand immediately using a clean cloth! You don’t want milk solidifying in your wand.
- Clean draining hose, portafilters, filter basket, and drip tray.
Monthly (or every few months)
- Change shower screens and portafilter baskets. You don’t want leaks in your portafilters and group heads!
- Schedule a regular machine decalcification especially if you use mineral-heavy water. Contact your distributor or manufacturer to learn more about this.
- Drain steam tank semi-annually.
- To prevent corrective maintenance, the replacement of small parts can be a great way to save much more time and money in the future. These small parts may include steam, hot water valve, brew bearing, shoulder bolt shims, waste pipe, expansion valve, anti-suction valve, and portafilter baskets. These will surely help you in your future use especially when you serve coffee in bulks per day!
Cleaning your favorite pump
Let’s face it, quality syrup pumps are not that cheap either. So maintaining equipment also includes syrup, pumps, and bottles.
You get your favorite flavors using pumps so you don’t want sugar crystallization to happen, which leads to clogging, therefore making it difficult for you to pump syrups and sauces.
How to clean syrup/sauce pumps:
- Disassemble your syrup and sauce pumps gently. Get a nice dish soap and warm water. Soak the pumps for at least fifteen minutes. Make sure any crystallization has loosened or diluted!
- Scrub the pumps gently after soaking. You can pump soapy water through, making sure even the insides are clean!
- Rinse the pumps well with running water. Make sure you do it individually to avoid any soap residue. You don’t want a soapy syrup because that would be a waste of time and resources.
- Pat dry. Make sure they’re fully dry before using again.
- Wiping off excess sauces and syrups on the bottles will go a long way also! That way, you can avoid molding residues and fruit flies coming to the drips in your bottles. It’s nice to have a delightful service when there are no hassles. Make sure to do this every use!
Recommended cleaning products
Before buying any cleaning product you see on the Internet, make sure to check with your machine manufacturer or distributor first. They will surely recommend the best one for your machine. Some products are not compatible with some machines. So it’s best to check first to avoid unnecessary damage and inconveniences.
Whether you use a suggested cleaning product or vinegar and water, make sure to rinse thoroughly. Any residue will cause a spoiled drink. Be sure you clean and rinse really well!
Are 2nd hand machines recommended?
It’s not a no-no, but there is always merit in buying a brand new, high-quality machine. And that includes peace of mind and zero repairs.
But if you have very limited choices, check the age of the machine first. It may visually look fresh and clean, but machines go through a natural wear-and-tear. It may cause difficulties for you in the future, especially if you need to look for replacement parts and repair services for the old machine. So make sure to buy from reputable suppliers. You’re not only saving yourself from hassles in the future, but you’re also investing in the durability of the espresso machine.
Maintenance as a routine
If you own a cafe, have a maintenance routine be a part of your barista’s schedule. Your staff can take turns in checking for possible issues and cleaning the machine’s parts. Your team can make a calendar for daily, monthly, and annual checking!
Don’t let days pass before checking… small things count! Do the essential cleaning immediately after use and you’re saving your cafe from possible downtime due to machine repairs. It will pay off in the future. Guaranteed, you get to serve great coffee every day for your customers.