Keeping your equipment sparkling clean is just as important as the freshness of your coffee and dialing in your grind & tamp — in fact, without the former, the latter will be an exercise in futility. If we have to tell you that rancid coffee oils will adversely impact the quality of your shot, we’re sorry. But if we have to be the first, then we might as well do it right, right? So we asked Louie Poore, who specializes in educating professional baristas on proper equipment care for Urnex, to give us the rundown.
First, he introduces us to Urnex’s new Full Circle, sustainably-produced cleaning products — including a toe-to-toe comparison of Cafiza and Full Circle’s coffee equipment wash.
Finally, Gail shows us the newly arrived 1, 2, Brew Kit for Espresso Machines, which features the goodies you need to keep your machine in tip-top shape (plus a bag of Velton’s Coffee of your choice!).
This popular superautomatic is simple and straight forward to use, but we often get questions around how to care for it. In addition to regularly removing the brew group and spraying it down, cleaning the dregs box and the drip tray, you’ll need to descale the Vienna every 1 – 3 months (depending on the mineral hardness of the water you’re using).
Remember: Descaling isn’t based on usage, but on timing. If you’re not using the machine, water is still sitting in the waterworks and scale can build up. If you use your machine very rarely, it may prompt you to descale less regularly then you might need to, so using the general 3 month rule of thumb is always a good idea.
Watch Gail take us through the process.
With so many different model variations and filter options, we often hear from confused customers who don’t know which filter to purchase for their specific Jura machine. These can be a bit pricey, so purchasing the wrong filter can definitely make an unhappy dent in your wallet. Watch Gail go through the filters for each type of machine and check out the table below for a handy guide to choosing your filter in the future.
Update for Refurbished Models: Jura recently let us know that if they are required to replace a defective or damaged water tank during the refurbishment process, they will be replacing them with the Clearyl Blue versions of the tank (described below as having a light blue lid and white dial). In the event that they do this, they are including a note with a reference to the specific water filter model number you should purchase for your Jura. Please check your machine’s water tank color prior to purchasing, as that is the most accurate way to determine whether the White or Blue filters will fit your machine.
We’ve heard concerns from customers on whether or not they should worry about trace amounts of lead or metal poisoning within their machines’ boilers and parts. So we’re going to break down the makeup of particular metals that are housed within your unit to ease your mind — and your fears of caffeine withdrawal.
Water corrosion is where it all begins and understanding your machine and what conditions cause corrosion — oxygen, water, metal and a catalyst — will help you manage and maintain your espresso machine.
Used for some espresso machine boilers and stovetop espresso makers as it heats up the fastest, ‘aluminum is protected from corrosion by increasing the amount of naturally occurring aluminum oxide (Aluminum + Oxygen) on its surface.’
As a mixture of metals, also referred to as an alloy, and under ideal circumstances, Sergio Louissant of LatteMaestro.com explains that this combination protects the aluminum but also has a quicker turn around time in breaking down the aluminum oxide causing the aluminum to corrode.
Chloride in tap water wears down the catalyst that breaks the shield that is the oxide layer between the metal and boiler water, as stated in a piece in the JL Hufford Coffee Tea Supporter Forum. This causes damage to aluminum parts over time so it is best to use filtered water or to regularly clean and descale your machine to slow down the deterioration process.
However, even though machines with aluminum parts are less expensive, that doesn’t mean they’re frowned upon. With its ability to maintain good resistance against corrosion, it just may take more of a closer eye and knowledge to understand the chemistry of it’s maintenance and when its time to switch out parts to prevent the quick deterioration of this material. Because the connection between aluminum and degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s is still unclear, many folks try to avoid aluminum as a precaution.
Very resistant to corrosion, stainless steel can be found in Saeco, Nespresso and Capresso machines. But its downfall is being the life of the party when it comes to hosting bacteria for a longer period of time on its surface compared to any other metal.
However, bacteria aside, since you won’t be cutting, dicing or chopping any raw meat on or with stainless steel espresso machine boilers and parts, as long as you keep the stainless steel within your machine clean, this material is ideal for espresso machines as it provides excellent heat retention and assures rapid steam function.
Unlike stainless steel and aluminum, espresso machines that use copper/brass boilers and parts, such as Rocket, Rancilio, Quick Mill, Pasquini, LaPavoni and Francis Francis, not only act like a repellent to those grimy germs and retain heat longer, but they also are the most resistant to corrosion than any other metal.
However, even with it’s popularity in higher end machines, some users are still left worried about the lead content in brass boilers.
While lead is added to some brasses, most manufacturers plate brass with nickel, such as Rocket Espresso, preventing any lead from leaching into water, reducing corrosion and acting as a barrier between brass and water.
But taking extra care when it comes to lead in products, it was in October of 1999 that the California State Attorney General sued 13 key manufacturers and distributors over lead content, leading to the reduction of lead content to 1.5 percent from it’s original 2 to 3 percent in products sold within that state. Following this action manufacturers were asked to reduce lead or to follow the requirement to warn consumers about lead content even if it didn’t have the ability to leach into materials such as water.
Hopefully this trend will catch up to the rest of the 49 states in the U.S. but for now, whether you choose a machine with aluminum, stainless steel or brass, taking precaution is key but knowing how your machine works and what it reacts well with will also keep you happy, healthy and caffeinated.
Roughly 80% of the machines that come into our repair center are having issues due to lack of regular maintenance, but keeping your machine tip-top also means your coffee will taste better as well. We know this and we hope you know this, but who really knows this (from a biased, albeit rather caring perspective) is coffee gear cleaning company Urnex, who manufacturers some of the best loved cleaning solutions on the market.
To promote their love of sparkly clean machines — and also make it easy for you to know exactly what to do to keep your machine in excellent shape — they have introduced the 1, 2, Brew Kit for Drip Coffee Makers that features the following accoutrement:
- Dezcal Espresso Machine Descaler
- Cleancaf Cleaning Detergent
- One Sample Pack of Grindz Burr Grinder Cleaner
- 1lb bag of Velton’s Coffee Beans — your choice of Treehouse, Twilight or Decaf blends
- Coffee Scoop with bag clip
We’re including this kit with our drip coffee makers now as a free item, but it’s also available for individual sale — great for yourself or a gift for someone else. And while this is specifically designed for drip coffee makers, we are working with them to develop one for espresso machines that will be released early next year…so stay tuned.
We have a wide array of cleaning products available — from descaler to milk frothing cleaner to backflushing detergent — and, admittedly, we sometimes get a little stuck in our ways. Machines with a three-way brew pressure release/solenoid valve (such as the Rancilio Silvia, La Spaziale machines, many of the Ascaso machines and any of the machines with an E61 brew head), require regular backflushing in order to keep that system in tip top shape.
Heretofore we have always recommended powdered backflush detergent — Cafiza or Joe Glo — but when we were meeting with Urnex a couple of weeks ago, they mentioned using the Cafiza tablets for backflushing. And it blew our minds.
Yeah, it doesn’t take much, does it?
If you want to be precise about the quantity of detergent you’re using in your backflushing and cleaning your gear, these tablets are the exact amount you need. Place one tablet in your backflush basket and follow your process as normal; one tablet in a couple cups of hot water is perfect for soaking baskets, portafilters and any other gear you may have that comes into contact with coffee oils and needs a good scrub down.
So what we previously attributed solely to superautomatic brew group cleanliness is cross functional and a great way to easily backflush your equipment without concern of using too much/too little detergent.
We are squealing like a gaggle of teenage girls outside a Guns n Roses concert a la 1989 (yes, we realize we’re aging ourselves here) because — at long last — Seattle Coffee Gear’s Guide to Rocket Espresso DVD is complete!
Shot over the summer, sliced, diced and then lovingly molded into something akin to a visual user’s manual, this comprehensive DVD is incredibly informative, covering a variety of topics related to setup, care, maintenance and repair — including:
- How to plumb in the Evoluzione or Professional models
- Dialing in your grinder and how to steam milk to produce microfoam
- Routine maintenance such as backflushing or replacing the brew head gasket
- Troubleshooting tips that will resolve any of the minor issues we see with these machines
Plus a whole lot more!
This custom DVD will be included with all Rocket Espresso machines purchased from Seattle Coffee Gear beginning December 2010, but if you purchased your Rocket from us before that and would like to receive a copy, we’d love to send one to you! Just send us an email with your original SCG order number and your current mailing address and will drop one in the mail for you.
We recently received an espresso machine in our repair center that was sent to us for a simple leak in the dregs box. Unfortunately, the machine was stored for awhile in a location that was also frequented by mice and one of them took up a cozy residence in the machine’s dregs box!
Watch Josh show us the damage that this can cause — turning a simple repair into quite an extensive (and more costly) one.