Home espresso machine cleaning tips 101 : The steam wand.
I’d say if you are like us and ‘need’ your morning coffee fix – and you’ve invested in a home espresso machine, then you’ll want to make sure you maintain your machine, so it performs for you just like the commercial ones do for Baristas. – i.e. delivers your coffee for you and steams your milk well – when you want it – without fail!
The No.1 thing you can do to keep your machine working consistently – and prevent costly maintenance is to clean it.
If you want to make coffee like a Barista – then clean like a Barista! Here’s my blog on looking after your steaming wand. I’ll just say it.
You use it – You clean it!
- Steam wand cleaning. I repeat. Just do it.
- Wipe that steam wand straight after use—every time. Do not let the milk dry out on it. Ergh. Yuck and a health hazard. Plus the next person who uses the steam wand doesn’t deserve to face that.
- Allocate a clean cloth wipe/ sponge for using purely on the steam wand. You don’t want to transfer other germs (e.g. from wiping the benchtop or doing the dishes) onto your steam wand.
- So you’ve poured your coffee, or have the drinking chocolate or chai ready in the cup. You’ve steamed and heated the milk up to the temperature you like (likely 55-65 degrees Celcius range) in your stainless steel jug. Now Wipe! With your allocated clean, damp sponge/ cloth wipe before you even pour the steamed milk into your cup.
- Do it while the steamed milk is still warm, and it comes off easily.
- Just rinse out the cloth afterwards, and Done.
- You will then be pleased with yourself that a/you don’t have to return later and scrub harder to get off the dried milk crud off. Scrubbing or scouring the steam wand can take the chrome/ or stainless steel layer off too. Not good. Makes matters worse. On commercial cafe machines, the steam wand has a copper pipe inside, beneath the stainless steel layer. And milk just loves to stick to that even more. So it gets harder and harder to clean …
- The second reason you can be pleased with yourself is that because you won’t get in trouble from others in the household crying out “who left milk on the steam wand again!” It’s just less work and less hassle to do it straight away before it gets stuck on.
- Then pour your latte/ hot chocolate/ chai latte and enjoy with the glow that you have done your job and left a sparkling clean steam wand ready for next time. Clean, ‘food safe’ and ready. And it was easy.
- That makes me think of the ‘younger ones’ such as teenagers in your household. I reckon if they are old enough/ keen enough/ allowed to make say, a hot chocolate – then they are old enough / responsible enough to wipe the steam wand too! They should be able to work out how to do so safely, and not go ‘ouch because that steam wand is hot.
- There endeth the lesson on wiping your steam wand every time.
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Get pouring just a pro-Barista.