What You Need to Know About Cleaning a Fully Automatic Coffee Machine

You know that when it comes to getting the best tasting coffee, the equipment you’re using matters. You’ve invested in a high-quality, fully automatic coffee machine, sourced superior coffee beans, and spent countless hours perfecting your machine’s settings. 

However, if you aren’t regularly cleaning your machine, you’re still not getting your best cup of coffee. 

Everything that goes through your coffee machine leaves its mark. Coffee beans produce copious amounts of coffee bean oils, milk can leave a potentially hazardous residue, and even the water you use causes limescale buildup. 

All of these factors could be causing your brew to leave a bad taste in your mouth and reduce the life expectancy of your pricey, fully automatic coffee machine. 

For more information on what could be hiding inside your coffee machine, read: Three Things That Can Build Up and Damage Your Espresso Machine.

So, what parts of your fully automatic coffee machine need attention, and how often do you need to clean them?  

Aside from wiping down the exterior of your machine, these three areas need regular attention:  

  • The brew unit 
  • All components that come into contact with milk 
  • The internal boiler, pump, and valves 

Every few days, all the accessible exterior components of your fully automatic coffee machine should get a quick wipe down or rinse under warm water. This includes the actual machine, the drip tray, and the dreg drawer. The dreg drawer, in particular, is essential not to miss. Due to the moisture, spent coffee grounds can quickly develop unhealthy mold growth. 

You’ll also want to routinely clean all parts of your coffee machine used to stream or froth milk. Milk residue can quickly develop a rancid odour – a sign of bacterial growth – and clog your steam tip. 

If you have a pannarello wand, it can be easily removed and washed after each use. For machines with a traditional metal steam wand, simply wipe it down with warm water and purge a little steam. If milk has become encrusted around the inside of your steam wand, you can remove the part, soak in a cleaning solution (or a simple mix of a few drops of vinegar and some hot water) and repeat the steps above. 

Once a week, you’ll want to dive a litter deeper into your machine, attacking the brew unit. This is the heart of your fully automatic coffee machine, pumping out that perfect cup. Cleaning the brew unit will depend on the make and model of your machine. Some, like the Jura, have non-removable components, while others like Gaggia and DeLonghi can be taken out and cleaned. 

For machine-specific cleaning instructions, you’ll have to refer to your user’s manual. But in general, to clean your removable brew unit, simply remove the unit, rinse under warm water, remove any excess grounds from the underside. There’s no need to use soap or any special cleanser. Allow all the parts to air dry before putting the brew unit back into your machine. 

At least a month, you will need to descale your fully automatic coffee machine. Descaling removes limescale buildup from the interior of your machine, preventing damage and keeping your coffee tasting great. 

Most fully automatic coffee machines will have a descaling feature programmed in to walk you through the steps. All you need to do is choose the type of descaler – powder, liquid, or tablet – that you want to use. 

Regularly cleaning your fully automatic coffee machine will dramatically improve the taste of your coffee and help prolong the machine’s life expectancy. A little work now will keep delicious espresso pouring for many years to come. If your machine needs more than an at-home clean, take it to your local dealer for professional servicing.