In even the most lethargic of cafes you will usually find the staff have been well drilled into a routine of ‘back flushing’ the espresso machine. Whilst very commendable, I am yet to see the wide-spread removal of Porta-filters and baskets for cleaning. I find this baffling and I believe it to be a result of poor quality information being passed down the chain. The act of back flushing is intended to keep some internal parts of the espresso machine from clogging with coffee oils. Back flushing doesn’t have anywhere near as much effect on the beverage as the stuff that’s lurking underneath your basket!

 dirty coffee basket

Nasty!

In the professional environment I would recommend that you clean your porta-filters and baskets, at least once a day. You don’t need to use any back flushing powder for this, just a warm soapy cloth. I wouldn’t expect any porta-filter to be sparkling, nor should it be, but it shouldn’t have any worse than a yellow/tan tint.

clean portafilter and basket

Shiny!

Another problem that often occurs is an uneven pour from a double spout. Your barista training would tell you this is because you’ve got a crooked tamp. But for me (and this is quite common) it’s usually because the spout has become clogged with coffee oil or grinds. Again, daily cleaning with a bendy brush or pipe cleaner should resolve this. And finally, whilst you are back flushing, don’t forget to pay attention to the shower screen and rubber gasket, using a firm nylon brush.