Cleaning and maintenance is a hot topic in this neck o’ the woods, but some folks aren’t clear on which specific maintenance routines apply to the type of machine they own. This comes up specifically in regard to backflushing — do you or don’t you?
You do backflush if you own a machine with a valve system referred to as a three-way solenoid, brew pressure release, three-way valve, solenoid valve or any other combination of these phrases. Not sure if your machine has this? If your machine has an E61 brew group (such as those on Rockets, Quick Mills, Izzos or Grimacs), it has this valve system. Other models that feature this without the E61 are those made by La Spaziale, Pasquini, the Rancilio Silvia and Ascaso’s Uno Pro and Duo series. This valve system relieves pressure post-brew, which results in a drier puck, but it sucks a little bit of coffee and water into the system each time which can build up in there and adversely impact the machine’s performance. Backflushing forces detergent and water through the valve system, thoroughly cleaning it and maintaining the system. It also has the added benefit of cleaning up behind the brew head’s screen without taking it apart.
You don’t backflush if your machine doesn’t have this system — because you don’t have the valves to clean! Some machines that don’t need backflushing include the Saeco Aroma, Via Venezia, Sirena, models made by Breville, those from Francis Francis!/illy and Delonghi and Capresso semi-automatics. But since you’re not forcing detergent through the brew head, you will need to take it apart semi-regularly to clean up behind the brew screen.
The best way to determine if you need to backflush your machine is to read the manufacturer’s manual and the machine’s technical specifications to see if it has the valve system. If it doesn’t, you’re good to go; if it does, you should backflush once every 1 – 2 weeks, depending on how often you use the machine.
Keeping your espresso equipment clean is essential to producing consistently excellent shots. Backflushing on the Rancilio Silvia and machines with the patented E61 brew group will definitely address the brew group and screen, but it’s still a good idea to take them apart every so often and give them a good scrub down. You’ll also need to know how to do this when replacing the brew head gasket, also an important part of regular care and maintenance.
Watch Gail take apart the brew head on the Rancilio Silvia:
Now watch her take apart an E61 brew head:
Rocket Espresso’s new Evoluzione machines are the next step in functionality. Sure, they’ve got many of the lovable features that other Rockets do (the E61 brew head, insulated steam and hot water wands, polished stainless steel casing) and share the dual pressure gauge functionality previously released on the Professional version, but these babies also have one major difference: They have a convertible water source, so you can easily switch between an internal reservoir or plumbing it in!
If you’re anything like us, you probably used your gear’s user manual for one of three things:
- To ineffectively swat at flies, yet one day you accidentally killed one and couldn’t bear to keep the gut-stained book around.
- To prop up the uneven handmade bookshelf lovingly made by a friend/parent/spouse/sibling/child that never sits right on the wood floor.
- To start a fire in the fireplace to enjoy while sipping on a delicious glass of chai spiced wine. (Guilty!)
Or, maybe you just recycled it by accident. Whatever the case, the fact of the matter is that now you have no wisdom to guide you. We created our manufacturer manual repository over at Brown Bean to connect you with the source code. We have manuals for a lot of models both current and historical, so if you’re looking for tips on how to perform maintenance or need to find out what that error code means, check ‘em out.
Don’t see your model there? Leave a comment here and we’ll see if we can’t track it down and add it to the repository.
Seattle Coffee Gear’s monthly newsletter, The Grind, landed in an email box near you today — and if it wasn’t near enough for you to actually read it, you can do so here on the site or make sure you get up close and personal next month by signing up for future editions.
This month, we talk about the different functional types of espresso machines, include a recipe for Indochine Lemon, point you to our manufacturer manual resource on Brown Bean and introduce you to a few new products we have in the store. What you won’t see, however, is The Grind Special, which is for subscriber-eyes-only. Sign up to get that little bit o’ goodness every month.
DIY lovers are all into the idea of using lemon juice or vinegar to descale their machines, but while the latter will leave a nasty residue and we don’t recommend it for that reason, the former just isn’t concentrated enough to do as an effective job in as an efficient manner as a concentrated citric acid solution like Dezcal. This is what we find out from Gail, plus she makes freaky faces and it’s worth watching just for that.
Since we’re fairly vocal proponents of Rocket Espresso, we often have older models produced by the previous manufacturer, ECM, coming into our repair center for tune-ups, parts replacements and general repairs.
A couple of weeks ago, we had an older ECM Giotto come in for a seemingly simple repair, but it spiraled into the mire once we realized that this wasn’t just any Giotto we were dealing with: It was an ECM Manufacture Giotto. Apparently, the German company was a distributor of the Giotto and the Cellini products, eventually deciding to bring the production of these machines in house. Despite facing legal action from the Italian ECM company, the German company built and distributed their version of the machine for some time — the external design very reminiscent of the original machine, and with the ECM Giotto or Cellini name badges on the machine. A few years ago, they spun off the machines under their own names — like Technika, Barista or Mechanika — so now it’s easy to tell the difference between these machines. You can also look at the ECM logo itself to determine if you have a German or Italian produced model: The ECM Manufacture machines reference Heidelberg instead of Milan.
If you have an older version of an ECM Giotto or Cellini that you purchased in Germany, keep in mind that the internals and parts for the German-produced versions of the machines are not the same as the original Italian versions. Before having the machine repaired, make sure who you’re working with has access to the ECM Manufacture-specific parts. We poked around to see if we could find anyone who sells or has parts for these and, as of this writing, we weren’t able to find anyone who imports these models into the US.