I do not want to alarm anyone, but you should clean your coffee gear more often than you are.
“I rinse it out every day, I put the carafe in the dishwasher,” you say, “my coffee maker is clean!”
READ ON TO SEE IF THIS IS TRUE.
Continuing with our look at some of the most frequently asked coffee-related questions and our search for a consistently delicious cup of joe, we add to our growing list “the cleaning of our coffee equipment.” If your devices aren’t routinely maintained, your coffee isn’t as good as it should be. Even more concerning, it may be bad for your health.
Several studies cite your coffee maker in the top 5 germiest places in the house. The procedures to follow are intended for automatic drip makers, pour overs, Keurig’s, Nespresso machines, French Presses, Aero Presses, Mocha Pots, and Espresso Makers. Each may have some slight variations. I encourage you to seek out YouTube Videos specific to what type of coffee device you want to clean.
The Break Down
Which part of your machine needs to be examined? Certainly, the carafe or place where your finished coffee is held. The build-up of oils and minor particulate, as well as burnt-on residue can all detract from your daily cup.
The water reservoir is that dark moist spot where spores and mold love to hang out and this is going to need major attention. It is the place most people miss.
All of the tubes through which the coffee flows need to be cleaned as they accumulate a host of deposits over time and can become sludgy.
The exterior surfaces where human hands touch can hold bacteria for days at a time.
On more complex espresso machines, any removable part needs to be cleaned.
The spray head where the coffee comes from the machine into the filter basket will need to be brushed gently with a mild solution.
Daily – follow proper rinsing procedures.
Weekly – do a soft clean.
Monthly – do a complete descaling.
Daily, after everyone is fed and the coffee is consumed, unplug the coffee maker and use a soft cloth with mild dish soap and warm water to wipe the outside of the maker. Then, completely wipe again with just a soft cloth and warm water. This is for external surfaces only. If you say to yourself, “Who has time to do that?”, then try to do it at least a couple of times a week.
For the coffee carafe, rinse with very hot water and set upside down on your dish rack to dry. You can also put the carafe in the dishwasher, but wipe and rinse it thoroughly before you do. This whole procedure (wipe down, hot rinse) should take under two minutes.
Weekly, let’s say every Sunday, unplug the machine and begin to look beyond the carafe. Take a soft brush (or a toothbrush) and clean the area around the spray head. There are several commercial products available (Urnex, Joe Glo, Miele) that will help to remove gunk without leaving residue behind.
Boiling water and a nice brush will do most of the work. For any tubes that are removable, take the time to scrub them. You can get brushes specifically designed to clean inside the tube. Rinse everything well and let dry. This should take about 10 minutes.
Monthly, I am going to rid my machine of mineral deposits and coffee residue. Start with 1 cup of white vinegar and 3 cups of distilled water then swirl it around in your carafe. Pour it into the reservoir and fill it to the top with hot water. Feel free to gently brush the interior of the reservoir. Let it sit for 20 minutes and while waiting, dip your brush in the vinegar solution and gently scrub the spray head and above the baskets. Now, start a brew. Put a filter in the basket (no coffee!), when the carafe is full of the vinegar-water solution turn off the machine and let it sit in the carafe for 20 minutes.
Now, empty and rinse your carafe several times and fill it with fresh water. (Distilled is best, but good clean soft water is fine) Also, rinse your reservoir several times. Add water to the reservoir and brew again. Some people like to do 2-4 water-only brews, but it is up to you. I find that I usually can’t detect any vinegar smell after a thorough rinse and 2 water-only brews. Let your nose guide you. This will take 90 minutes on and off. Your pot should be good as new.
Your coffee on the next day should taste really good.
If you hate the vinegar smell, there are several recipes for baking soda, hot water, and a little lemon juice that can be used instead of vinegar.
Substitute ¼ cup of baking soda, the juice of one lemon, and fill the carafe with hot water. Follow the procedures as above. Pour in the reservoir and turn on the machine. Re-collect in the carafe. Many also suggest running that solution through the machine 3 times before a water rinse. It’s going to be up to your own individual preferences.
For the French Press, Mokka Pot or Pour Over devices, just soak them in a dishpan for 30 minutes and rinse thoroughly.
You can use commercial cleaners, or 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water, or the baking soda method as described above.
Just be sure to never mix your baking soda and vinegar. That’s how we made project volcanoes in school.
Your gear should now be squeaky clean.
A Final Note
As an aside, never use household bleach or harsh chemical cleaners on your gear as it can harden O-rings, dissolve plastics and cause other complications in the machinery as well as leave chemical residue you do not want to consume.
If you decide to try this, I am interested to know how your coffee tasted on the following day. Please leave a comment.
Clean coffee gear produces a cleaner cup of coffee. Enjoy!
Also Read: Kona Coffee Tips & Advice
About the Author
Matt Carter is a retired teacher (1989-2018), a part-time musician, farmer, and currently manages Greenwell Farms Tour and Retail Store Operations.