How to Politely Clean the Espresso Machine After Pulling a Shot




About: JoeJoe is a PCB designer, artist, and make-hack-tinkerer who lives in San Francisco, CA. He is currently an Artist-in-Residence at the Autodesk Pier 9 Workshop, and also co-founded LumiGeek (

Mmm, mmm, mmm. The afternoon doldrums have hit, and now it's time for a tasty espresso!

Oh, but what is this? Yuck! Somebody (I'm sure unintentionally) left the portafilter full of grounds!

Here's how to properly clean the espresso machine and leave it ready for the next person after you pull your shot. Note that we aren't talking about the routine cleaning and backflushing required to keep the machine healthy and functional for decades, just the cleaning that should be done every time you pull a shot to keep your co-workers and fellow espresso-heads happy and content.

Step 1: Knocking Out the Grounds Into the Knock Box

If the grinder is set correctly (which it should usually be around here) when you remove the group handle you should be looking at a solid mostly dry puck of spent grounds in the portafilter. If it's a soupy mess then either your dosing or grind is wrong, but thats a story for a different instructable.

So then. Step one. Tamp the grounds out into the knock box. Thoroughly. The more you can get out here, the less of a mess it will make in Step Two.

Step 2: Run Some Water Over the Portafilter to Clean It

By hitting the "single" or "double" button highlighted in the photo one time, our good friend Mr. Marzocco will faithfully start dispensing water from the grouphead. Move the portafilter under this shower of water to clean off the remaining espresso grounds. Our machine is plumbed, so don't worry about where all that dirty water is going to go.

Make sure you let some water flow through it to clean out the spout/spouts.

Step 3: Clean the Shower Screen

Grab a bit of paper towel and wipe the gunk off of the shower screen. There are brushes that are made to do this, but a quick wipe with a cloth or paper towel is fine. There's a good reason for this: look at the second picture to see what comes off after just one shot. The amount of gunk also varies wildly with how much espresso your co-workers pack into the portafilter- occasionally the whole puck may end up stuck to the screen.

A clean shower screen helps distribute water equally and evenly across the top of the packed grounds which is one part of getting an even extraction.

Step 4: Dry the Portafilter

Now grab the drip-dried portafilter and dry it off with a bit of paper towel. Before dispensing grounds into the portafilter to start your shot, you should always make sure it is hot and dry. Wet spots will cause clumping and uneven extraction.

Step 5: Place the Group Handle Back in a Warm Location

Woohoo! Now you get a choice!

Place the group handle back either on top of the machine (ours stays toasty warm) or back into the group head. There's an endless debate about which location this should optimally live in, but either will do as long as it keeps the group handle and portafilter warm.

Step 6: Wipe Down the Machine

This is the easy part. Routine tidiness. Just like in the shop, everyone loves walking up to a clean machine.

Thanks! You have now left the espresso machine clean and ready for the next user! Enjoy your shot!



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    9 Discussions

    My next Instructable is going to be on writing passive aggressive Instructables for group behavorial modification. :)

    The intro explains that I'm not talking about the routine maintenence for the machine, just the "after every shot" procedure. Backflushing/descaling/scrubbing/soaking/etc are all more weekly/monthly tasks for me. Though I have read that some people backflush every time... I'm not sure where our blind portafilter basket even lives at work and I think that would be a hard sell to get everyone on board for each time.

    Your post gave me a good laugh this morning. It constantly amazes me how people in the office forget those common courtesies they would never forgo at home. Must be something in the air.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    In my office, we have a similar set of instructions over our coffee maker, for this very reason lol. Might have to share this with the office