Keeping Gaggia and other E61 coffee machines in top shape
The Italian 5 M's guide to perfect espresso include maintenance with good reason. The best blend, ground in the best grinder, brewed in the best machine by skillful barista will not help if maintenance is neglected.
Why is servicing group heads important?
Maintaining your coffee machine in top shape is one of the most important steps in getting consistent quality espresso shots. Group heads that are not regularly maintained and cleaned result in poor cup quality. This happens for different reasons. Lack of regular cleaning causes stale coffee to build up in the group head as well as in the portafilter walls. Worn out gaskets and showers cause precious pump pressure to be lost and not available to the extraction process. This causes a weak cup that lacks flavor and aroma.
How often should I service the espresso group?
Keeping group heads in top shape involves two different tasks: Cleaning and backflushing and replacing worn out parts.
Cleaning and backflushing
Cleaning and backflushing is a task that should be performed daily if you use your machine regularly, or once a week for occasional use. This is very important as it will help keep your coffee free from bad odors resulting from stale coffee build up. The group head and porta filter are cleaned thoroughly during the process.
Replacing worn out parts
The following parts are regularly replaced as part of the routine maintenance on E61 coffee machines like Gaggia, Rancilio, Expobar Office, and others:
- Filter holder or portafilter gaskets
- Filter holder gasket spacers if needed
- Shower screens
The E61 is such a popular group head that the replacement costs are usually low. Shower screens tend to live longer than filter holder gaskets but the costs are low enough for you to change both and make sure the machine is in top shape. How often you replace them depends on how often you use your espresso machine. For the average home user replacing gaskets and shower screens every 6 months will be more than enough. Keep in mind that E61 group heads, even when they are used in home espresso machines, have commercial grade parts in them.
How do I backflush and clean my espresso machine?
If you use machine regularly, you should backflush daily as well. This is important but fortunately it is easy.
Things you will need
- Backflush and cleaning powder. The most popular cleaning powder by far is the Urnex Cafiza cleaner. If you happen to get one of our group service kits you will have a packet of Cafiza included. A 20oz (566g) bottle is also available at the shop.
- A blind filter. This can a be a rubber blind filter or a stainless steel one. Rubber blind filters fit more brands. One is included in the group service kits you can get at the shop. at the shop.
Once you have what you need the process is simple. Backflushing (each group head)
- Insert blind filter in portafilter and add up to 1/2 teaspoon (3 g) of Cafiza® Powder. Insert portafilter into group head.
- Activate brew cycle for 10 seconds. Stop 10 seconds. Repeat 5 times.
- Remove portafilter. Activate brew cycle and rinse portafilter in stream of water from group head. Stop cycle.
- Insert portafilter into group head. Repeat step (2) without Cafiza® Powder 5 times.
- Make and discard a cup of espresso to ensure no residue remains.
- Soak filters and metal of portafilter for 30 minutes in 1 teaspoon (6 g) of Cafiza® Powder per 32 oz (1 L) of hot water.
- Rinse with clean hot water.