If you haven't backflushed in a while, you're doing yourself a huge disservice. Wait! Perhaps I should stop and explain! "Backflushing" is the process used to clean the brew group and three-way valve of an espresso machine. Ideally, machines that experience heavy use (10 or more drinks a day) should be backflushed on a weekly basis. If you use your machine less than 10 times a day, we usually recommend that you backflush every week and a half or so. Deviate from the schedule too much and you could experience bitter, rancid-tasting coffee and a clogged shower screen.
Backflush Like A Pro!
To begin the backflusing process, remove the filter basket from your portafilter and insert a backflush disc (usually included with your machine). Then, put approximately ½ a teaspoon of backflush cleaner into the basket, reattach your portafilter to the brew group, and turn on the pump. After 20 seconds, the pump will become very quiet as pressure builds up, at this time you should turn the pump off. You'll then hear a whooshing sound as the cleaner gets injected into the brew group, through the three-way valve, and empties into the drip tray.
Repeat this process until the foam coming out into the drip tray is clean; remove and rinse the portafilter once the backflushing has been completed. Now, you'll want to put the handle back into the machine again and flush your machine a few more times, using only water.
Any prosumer or commercial machines such as the ECM, WEGA or Pasquini should be backflushed on a regular basis. If your espresso machine is being used in a commercial setting, it should be backflushed at the end of every day. Home users who are especially particular about their espresso, could backflush their machines every day for best results.
Special Note: There are a few home machines that have three-way valves, but the manufacturer recommends that you do not backflush them. These include the Gaggia machines and the Rancilio Silvia. If you're unsure of whether your espresso machine can be backflushed, please consult your user manual.
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