Nothing beats the taste and smell of freshly-brewed coffee first thing in the morning, and if you want to learn how to make barista-quality coffee in your own kitchen, these videos showing how to make great coffee at home will change your brewing game forever.
Sometimes, however, there are times when only the classics will do, and all we crave is a steaming pot of simple, drip-brewed coffee to share over breakfast. There’s something reassuring about a gleaming coffee machine on a kitchen counter, and with our simple guide to cleaning and descaling, the insides of your machine will be gleaming too.
How to clean and descale a coffee maker: tools and steps
What you need:
Distilled white vinegar
Step 1. Empty the coffee maker
Discard any old grounds from the basket, along with any used filters if your machine uses disposables. Rinse the basket to get rid of the bulk of the residue. Tip away any coffee left in the carafe, and rinse that too.
Step 2. Mix vinegar and water
Mix equal amounts of vinegar and water in the carafe and pour into the reservoir so it is full to its capacity. If you haven’t cleaned your coffee machine for a while, or you’ve noticed a particularly bad build up of limescale, you can mix in a little extra vinegar.
Step 3. Reassemble the machine
Replace the carafe and basket, and position a filter in the basket.
Step 4. Run half a brew cycle
Start a brew cycle, stopping the machine halfway through so you have vinegar solution in both the reservoir and the carafe. Leave to soak for 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the amount of build-up in the machine.
Step 5 Finish the cycle
When the soaking time has elapsed, turn the machine back on and allow the cycle to finish. Pour out the vinegar solution, discard the filter, if using disposables, and rinse out the carafe.
Step 6 Run a water cycle
Fill the reservoir with water, replacing the filter if necessary, and run a cycle with just water. Repeat twice more to make sure any lingering vinegar taste is washed away.
How often to clean and descale a coffee maker
Although you may not be able to see dirt building up in your coffee machine, it is important to clean it regularly for several reasons. Just like a kettle, your coffee machine can suffer from limescale, which is caused when the minerals in your water get left behind, causing a scaly build-up which can narrow the water channel and make the machine slower and less efficient. Coffee grounds can cause build-up too, as they contain natural oils that collect inside your machine, clogging up the parts with a thick oily sludge and making your coffee taste increasingly bitter.
Most importantly, however, the warm, damp conditions inside a coffee machine are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, yeast and mould. One study by NSF International found the water reservoir of a coffee machine to be the fifth germ-infested place in the home, so regular cleaning of your coffee machine is important to get rid of any lurking nasties that could make you sick.
You should empty the basket and carafe and rinse them through with warm water and mild detergent after every use, but for the rest of the machine it can be more difficult to tell when cleaning is required. Some machines have a light that comes on to indicate when they need descaling, otherwise, most manufacturers recommend cleaning every 40-80 brew cycles, or at least once a month. If you live in a hard water area where the water contains more minerals, you may need to clean your machine more often, and if you notice a white residue, or your coffee starts tasting bitter, it’s definitely time for a clean.
Now you’ve done the hard work of cleaning out your machine, it’s time to relax with some coffee trivia. Did you know there are over 80 different styles of coffee from around the world? Find out more with this fun infographic that takes you around the world in 80 coffees.