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How To Keep Your Coffee Machine in Best Operating Condition

Whether you buy a coffee machine or rent a coffee machine, you will want to keep it both hygienic and running in tip top condition. Make no mistake, the quality of your coffee IS affected by dirt, the build up of fat deposits and coffee oils (that can taint the flavour) and of course our old friend, calcium scale which impacts both taste and temperature! Secondly, you really don’t want to spend money on coffee machine repairs when a lack of preventative maintenance leaves you with a breakdown (so read more on preventative maintenance here)

So understanding what cleaning supplies you need, will help you make better coffee. Cleaning materials for coffee machines are specialised and you will need the folowing cleaning equipment if you are operating a:

The Wega Polaris manual espresso coffee machineTraditional manual espresso machine

You need: A group head detergent powder + descaler.

Mythos Exel 2.0 coffee machineBean-to-cup coffee machine

You need: Detergent tablet + milk system detergent + descaler.

coffee vending machineCoffee vending machines (all types)

You need: Detergent tablet + descaler.

Urnex Cafiza coffee machine cleaning detergentGroup Head Cleaning Detergent Powder


The powder is presened in a 900g plastic jar for bulk usage by a trained barista. Flushing the group heads is critical for reducing oil buildup that can not only taint the coffee over time, but oils attract dust and grit that can also damage the seals and reduce pressure for extraction.

Barista’s can maintain their machine by inserting a blind filter into each portafilter. Then add about 3-5g of the detergent powder into the blind filter. Place the portafilter back into the group and then start a brew cycle. Let the cycle ru for a few seconds and then stop it. Repeat this four or five times to ensure that the backflushig process gets detergent into the system.

Once done, remove the portafilter and start a new brew cycle. Ensure the portafilter is rinsed properly before putting it back into the group. Then repeat the process above, except now you are rinsing as there is no detergent in the portafilter. After 5 cycles where you let the water run for about 15 seconds, you can make an espresso to test that there is no detergent in the system.

Detergent cleaning tablets for automatic coffee machinesDetergent Tablets


You didn’t buy an automatic coffee machine to spnd hours stripping and cleaning it and so simplicity comes to brew unit cleaning in the form of a detergent tablet that you add to your water tank and once dissolved, you initiate the brewer clean cycle. The detergent tablet is formulated to clean away coffee oils and return your brewr unit to a clean state, free of residue that can degrade over time.

The tablets are presented in a blister pack and you simply pop one out and place in the water tank with 500ml of water.

Once you have run your cleaning cycle, please ensure that you rinse the system.

Milk System Cleaner


Urnex Rinza milk frothing system cleanerIf you have a fresh milk coffee machine, which as the name implies, uses fresh milk to make macchiato, flat white, cappuccino and latte drinks, you’ll need to keep the milk pipe that comes from the milk container to the frother unit, and the milk frother itself, clean. We prefer an alkaline cleaner because it works to break down both milk fat and milk protein deposits. An acid cleaner is used mainly for scale build-up that milk solids can cause, but we deal with that during normal descaling (see below).

Usage Instructions: You can use the CaffeNu Alkaline Milk System Cleaner to do this. Just pour 50ml of the solution into 500ml of water and run the milk frother cleaning cycle on your machine. You can also put the frother parts into the solution for about 20 minutes too if they detach from your coffee machine.

You’ll only need to do this every couple of days if you rinse your milk tube after every use to avoid milk accumulating in the pipe.

Urnex Dezcal coffee machine descalerDescaler


This is an esssential part of keeping your coffee machine in good shape. Calcium in water bonds over time to metal surfaces and more so as temperature increases. The white layer on the bottom of your kettle is an example of that calcium and it can greatly reduce your boiler temperature. This is particularly a problem in smaller automatic coffee machines that have a flash boiler (or thermoblock) which is made up if little water channels that increase surface area of the boiler metal that is heated and exposed to water as it passes through the boiler on the way to your cup. If those surfaces get coated with a heat insulator… calcium … the heat is not passed onto the water and you’ll get lukewarm coffee.

We prefer a liquid descaling solution which is added to your water tank and allowed to interact with your boiler/thermoblock. It is a weak acid, so it reacts with calcium and frees your metal boiler walls from the calcium layer.

Descale regularly or use a water filter to avoid a build up that can only be cleaned by using a strong acid after boiler removal from your coffee machine. 

Water Filters


Your water may be high in calcium carbonate which is scale forming and can greatly affect water temperature and coffee making. If so, your coffee machine requires a filter that removes calcium from the water. To find out if your water is scale forming, use our free water quality calculator to check. Then look at our water filter catalogue to find the right filter for your needs. If you find water filters to be expensive, either use pre-filtered (reverse osmosis or ultrafiltration) water in your coffee machine or descale with a tablet once a month (or more in high calcium areas) but remember that a water filter is also used to remove chlorine odour and taste.

You can buy an inexpensive test-kit if you are not sure what the hardness, alkalinity, pH and total dissolved solids of your local water is.

There you have it – use three types of cleaning chemicals and water filters to keep your machine clean, hygienic and operating in the best condition.


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