Is your office coffee tasting a little bitter? Does your coffee suddenly smell strange? If so, you might want to consider when the last time was that you cleaned your office coffee machine. Like all machines and appliances, in order to keep them in tip-top working order, they need a good clean now and again.
So the simple answer to whether you need to clean your office coffee machine?
Yes. Yes, you do.
But let us explain why you need to, how often you should and what can happen if you don’t. We’ll also share with you some insider tips to make cleaning a breeze, saving you time and money and letting you get on with the important things.
How often do I need to clean my commercial coffee machine?
You may already have a coffee machine at work, you may be looking to upgrade, or you may be just starting out on getting a commercial coffee machine for your office. Wherever you are on your coffee journey, there are lots of things to consider. From the coffee you choose, the capacity required, the cost and many other variables, the type of coffee machine also dictates how often it should be cleaned.
As a general rule, you should be looking to clean your coffee machine once daily. At the end of the working day as you would say, be loading up your dishwasher and shutting down your computer, it’s a good idea to run a quick cleaning program on your machine. A lot of businesses will add this simple task to the list of their office cleaning team.
Coffee machine cleaning – the basics
For all coffee machines, there are three basic cleaning routines and following these will ensure a great coffee experience cup after cup.
Cleaning routine one
The first step that needs completing is cleaning the coffee brewing pathway. Machines that are not cleaned regularly enough will not only make a poor tasting cup of coffee, but you’re also at risk of damage to the machine. Most machines have a microporous steel filter and a build up of coffee tannins over time can block this, causing the machine to jam and ultimately break.
Cleaning routine two
The next routine is the milk process. Whether your machine uses fresh milk or granular milk, they’ll both need routine cleaning. Milk contains proteins that are not broken down by simply using hot water, so you need to add a specialist cleaning fluid (or tablet) to break down the milk and remove this from the pathway. We don’t need to explain what happens when milk sours and goes off! But the great news is that cleaning routines on modern machines are super quick and easy leaving you to get on with the important things.
Cleaning routine three
The final routine is limescale management. All coffee machines will require water to be heated to make your hot drinks. However, during this heating process, calcium in our water (the same stuff that causes trouble in our domestic kettles) will build up. Not only does limescale damage the machine but it will also affect the taste of the drinks.
Many commercial machines are connected to the water mains, and in this connection is a filtration process that removes the scale content from the water so you don’t have to worry too much. However handfill machines normally do not have this function and will therefore need a descale from time to time. How often this needs to be done depends on the hardness of the water in your area. You can check that out here.
What happens if I don’t clean my office coffee machine?
Your coffee machine might look perfectly clean from the outside as it gets wiped down each day, but it’s what’s inside that can cause problems.
Consider when you come to the end of your cup of tea or coffee and you look in your cup. You’ll notice that the tannins in both tea and coffee leave a brown residue in the cup. If you don’t rinse and clean the cup, these tannins will build up over time and leave dark brown stains that are then even more difficult to remove. Your coffee machine is no different. So even though you can’t physically see that tannin staining, that’s what’s happening inside where it’s building up.
With both fresh and granular milk, machines need to be kept clean. Milk can become unhygienic and pose bacterial risks in pipes where it can clog up if not cleaned regularly. Leaving this harmful bacteria to breed can actually cause you and your team to get sick so it’s very important you keep on top of your daily cleaning regime.
Another aspect of thorough cleaning is pesky limescale. Limescale happens significantly faster when water is heated, whether that’s in a kettle, coffee machine, tap or boiler, and then calcium and magnesium break down. Together, they precipitate to form limescale.
You’ll likely be familiar with limescale in your kettle at home, especially if you live in a hard water area so once in a while, you’ll have to descale it. The same applies to your office coffee machine especially if it’s a hand fill machine. (*Note that plumbed in commercial coffee machines will come fitted with an internal filtration system to prevent limescale build-up)
Limescale is an issue you’ll need to contend with. You must manage the limescale level in hot drinks dispensers, as build-up can result in slowing water flow, reducing boiler capacity and heating issues.
And, with filter brewers, limescale can cause the water to pass through the coffee grounds unevenly, usually resulting in under-extraction and an unpleasant cup of coffee. Read more about limescale and why it’s a problem.
How do I clean my machine?
Now we understand that cleaning is vital to the continued running of your coffee machine, you’ll want to know how to do it. Most coffee machine providers offer helpful guides online, quick video how-to’s and lots of machines now guide you through the process step by step via an intuitive digital interface.
The bottom line though is that cleaning is really easy and tends to involve just adding a specially developed cleaning tablet to the machine, pressing a few buttons and letting the machine get on with it.
Ultimately, if you don’t clean your machine regularly, you not only will have poor tasting coffee, but your machine will end up breaking down, disrupting office life and causing inconvenience to your valued team members.