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Why a daily cleaning schedule is just as important as serving fresh coffee

Australian Barista Champion Matthew Lewin explains why a daily cleaning schedule is just as important as serving fresh coffee.

When customers visit an Australian café, they have high expectations that the service will be friendly, the environment inviting, and the coffee exceptional. But they should also expect the venue to engage in a daily cleaning routine. Not only does an unclean machine impact the functionality and longevity of equipment, it can severely impact the taste profile of your coffee. 

Matthew Lewin, reigning Australian Barista Champion and Ona Coffee State Wholesale Manager has experienced the benefits of “clean” coffee, on and off the competition stage. He says the first thing baristas need to realise is that cleaning is not a “lengthy process”. 

“Cleaning should be considered as important as the coffee you serve your customers. Just like a Formula One car that pits for fuel and changes its tyres within seconds, a barista’s cleaning action should be swift and precise so that you’re not wasting time and can get back on the racetrack doing what you do best,” he says. 

Matthew shares the following cleaning criteria to help staff achieve the best result from each cup. Make it part of induction training for new staff, and a daily priority for managers to adhere to. That way, no matter who is working on the machine, customers can be guaranteed every coffee will be delivered to the highest – and cleanest – standard. 

Get prepared
You need the right equipment. The most basic requirements are a dark cleaning cloth, cleaning brush, and your Cafetto product. This could include Cafetto Tevo Tablets, Espresso Clean or EVO, which you can use for traditional espresso machines, one of Cafetto’s MFC milk cleaner products, a descaler, and Grinder Clean for your trusty grinder. Cafetto even has an extensive organic cleaning range. Make sure you visit its website for a full breakdown of products to suit your equipment: www.cafetto.com

Every morning
Go to your water filter and purge one litre of cold water out of the system. We want to remove any sediment from the filter left from the day before. Use a container to collect the excreted water and use it to hydrate any nearby plants. 

Then put the same container under your group heads with the group handles locked into position. Extract 500 millimetres of hot water from each group head. This activates the whole system and flushes out any stale coffee particles from the day before. 

Use this hot water for your dishes tub for rinsing/washing cups prior to putting them in the dishwasher. 

Pull one shot from the group head and discard it. We do this to season the machine and ensure no traces of chemicals remain from the day before. Now you’re ready to dial in.

During the day
Aim to clean your equipment every two hours. Set a timer that’s not your phone so you don’t get interrupted and forget. It doesn’t need to be an extensive clean. When the timer goes off, here’s what you’re going to do:

Prepare each group handle with a basket ready to make coffee, and one additional portafilter per handle with a blind filter. The idea is that when you get a break during service, quickly swap the well-oiled portafilters that have been busy making coffee with ones that have blind filters in them, ready to go. Clean all group heads with hot water at the one time (no chemical product needed). You don’t need to move from the vicinity of the espresso machine. Just use the water from the group heads of the machine.  

Complete three rounds of back flushing at 10 seconds each. We leave the handles/blind baskets in the machine to push out any residual coffee mater from the shower screens and group heads back through the system. After the third round of back flushing, use a group head cleaning brush in a circular motion to clean around the group head. 

Use your dedicated cleaning cloth to wipe out the baskets and handles of your portafilter. Don’t run them under hot water, it takes heat out of the system. Simply use your cloth so that there’s no drop in temperature. 

Then, every hour, taste your coffee to ensure it’s “clean” and “sweet” in the cup. 

End of day
Once service is complete, take your group handles from the machine out and run hot water over them from the group head. Swap them out with portafilters with blind filters. Add a Cafetto tablet or power and put the handles directly under the group head to add a bit of hot water. This helps the product dissolve easily within two minutes. It’s important the tablet or powder breaks down first before putting it in the group head to back flush, otherwise tiny clumps of the chemical powder risk getting stuck in the restrictors or flow metres. Once dissolved, simply put the portafilter into the group head and begin the cleaning cycle on your machine or backflush using the instructions on your Cafetto packet.

Use Cafetto Restore, an effective powder descaler for removing hard water lime scale and calcium build up from espresso machine boilers, tanks and coffee brewers. Simply dilute a 25-gram sachet per one litre of water and follow packet instructions. To go one further, use Cafetto Spectra, an eco-friendly powder descaler, which visually indicates whether a descaling cycle has been successful using pH-sensitive dye compounds. 

Soak your steam wand in Cafetto’s MFC range of products to clean and sanitise the steam wand. Follow Cafetto instructions and purge correctly to flush out any residual chemical solution. 

Soak your milk jug and milk jug rinsers in Cafetto Inverso for 30 minutes with warm water for a thorough clean (one scoop per 10 litres of hot water). A good tip is to put a coin over the hole in your milk jug rinser to help drain the solution through gradually. Rinse with fresh water once complete and dry.

Grinder care
Grinders are just as busy throughout your daily service therefore need as much attention as your espresso machine. Clean your grinder daily at the end of a shift. It should only take seven to 10 minutes to clean comprehensively. To do so safely, turn the power off and take the hopper off. Spoon out as many coffee beans as possible to minimise waste. Use a tool pick to remove anything stuck in the groves. This will ensure the blades spin easily.

 Then, reattach the hopper and turn the power back on and add one capful of Cafetto Grinder Clean into the hopper to get rid of any residue or oils. Follow Cafetto instructions for correct usage. 

Empty the grinder dosing chamber and brush out any dust with a grinder brush. Think of your grinder like an orange juicer. You need to get all the stubborn little coffee particles out, and you need to do it every day. If you let it build up, more problems are likely to arise.  Cleaning is all about efficiency, minimal water usage and looking professional. If you’re confident with your actions and always use Cafetto cleaning products, your coffee equipment will thank you for it, and so will your customers. 

For more information, visit www.cafetto.com