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How to clean your coffee machine

A clean machine not only looks better, it'll give you better tasting coffee.

Espresso machine making an espresso coffee at home
Last updated: 03 December 2018

If you're an espresso purist you'll want to clean your coffee machine regularly, as built-up oils and other deposits in the machine will taint the flavour of your brew. 

Coffee oils and residues are harder to shift if they're allowed to dry and harden. 

Read on to find out how to look after your coffee machine.

Every use

  • Empty the portafilter and hold it under the group head as you run the pump to rinse off the grounds (not necessary for pod-style machines), then wipe out the filter basket with a clean cloth.
  • Wipe down and, most importantly, purge the milk frothing wand immediately after use.
  • Wipe exposed surfaces with a soft damp cloth.
  • Wipe down the bench and surrounding areas to remove spilt water and coffee grounds.
  • Empty the drip tray.


  • Refill the water tank
  • For pod-style machines, empty the used pod receptacle.
  • Empty your knockbox.


  • Run a cleaning cycle (if your model has one), or back-flush (for three-way-valve systems) using a commercial coffee machine cleaner. A good rule of thumb is to do this once for every four kilograms of coffee you put through the machine.
  • Remove the filter basket from the portafilter, and soak both in cleaning solution.
  • Use a toothbrush to clean grounds from the shower screen


  • Descale your coffee machine following the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Disassemble the group head and soak the shower screen and other parts in cleaning solution, then reassemble it.
  • Polish stainless steel with metal polish (if applicable).
  • Empty and clean on-board hopper (if equipped) with a soft cloth and/or hot soapy water.
  • Brush grounds from around burrs in on-board grinder (if equipped).


Portafilter: Holds the coffee grounds in a filter basket and has a plastic or wooden handle attached. It locks into the group head.

Group head: The permanent metal attachment at the front of the machine that brings hot water out of the machine and into the portafilter's filter basket.

Shower screen: Diffuses the water flowing from the group head so it spreads evenly over the coffee grounds in the filter basket.

Knockbox: Plastic or metal container with a rubber bar across the middle that collects used grounds from the portafilter. (Once you've made your espresso, you "knock" the portafilter against the bar on the "box" to empty it.)

On-board hopper: Container that holds coffee beans until you're ready to grind them.

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Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.