When is the last time you gave your coffee maker some TLC? And no, murmuring some sweet nothings about it being the love of your life as you brew your morning cup doesn’t count. When is the last time you gave it a proper clean? If it isn’t within the past month, then you’ve been shortchanging yourself.
Why Should You Even Bother?
Without regular cleaning, coffee machines accumulate all manner of nasty things. From oils, mineral deposits, even yeast and mold. If your morning Joe is a bit off of late, it might be due to the oils making it rancid. This is one of the most common causes of coffee that has started tasting bitter all of a sudden.
Drip machine taking longer than usual? Mineral build-up could be issue. Over time, minerals tend to calcify in the pipes, clogging them to a certain degree. More so if you use hard water to get your brew on. This is one of the most common causes of cursing at your machine in the morning and accusing it of a secret ploy it’s designing to get you fired.
With a simple cleaning regime however, you can increase the performance of your machine and make every cup you brew worthy of doing a little jig over.
Just like you have your daily jog, daily bagel and daily social-media-stalking-spree, you should also have a daily coffee maker cleaning routine. Doing so will clean out any grinds and keep that nasty oil at bay.
And it doesn’t take up a lot of time either.
After you’re done enjoying your morning cup, simply wash any removable parts in the sink with warm, soapy water. Or simply toss them in the dishwasher. Then proceed to wipe down your machine and ensure everything dries out well to keep germs at bay. And voila! You can now head out and take on the world.
Once a month, you ought to clean up those inner parts of your coffeemaker that bacteria and build-up are clamoring to call home. This serves to rid oils, dissolve mineral build-up and evict any yeast and mold that may have taken up residence. It might take a bit more time, but the results are well-worth the hassle.
- White vinegar
- Paper Filter
- Warm Soapy Water
- Scrub Sponge
- Kitchen Towel
- Rice (It'll all make sense later)
Empty the Coffee Maker
Throw away any used filters and pour out any old coffee left in the pot. Give the carafe a nice, quick rinse.
Place a Filter in the Machine
Prepare the Vinegar and Water Mixture
Fill your water reservoir with equal parts vinegar and water. You can simply use the graduations on the carafe to ensure you get the right amount of each.
Run Half a Cycle
Turn on the machine like you'd normally do and let it brew for half a cycle. Once it gets to the midway point, turn it off and wait for an hour. Do something fun as you wait.
Turn it back on and let the cycle run to completion.
Pour Out the Pot of Freshly Brewed Vinegar
Rinse Out the Machine
Place a new filter, fill the reservoir with 100% water this time and run a full cycle and repeat twice.
Clean Out the Carafe and Filter Basket
Fill the pot with warm, soapy water, add in a bit of rice and gently shake. Please don't drop it! Use the scrub sponge to thoroughly clean it out followed by a nice rinse. Clean the filter basket as well using the warm, soapy water.
Wipe the Coffee Machine
Use a damp kitchen towel to wipe the exterior, making sure not to skip the warming plate.
Leave Out to Dry
Ensure every little component dries out properly to deny bacteria any incubation spots.
Tap Yourself on the Back
And treat yourself to a heavenly cup of coffee.
Vinegar is a staple in most pantries, but in the event of finding yourself without some, and there has been a nuclear fallout that has destroyed all convenience stores, there are a couple of alternatives you can use in its place.
- Mix about 1 oz of citric acid in 4 cups of hot water, topped off by an equal amount of cold water.
- Separately dissolve 2 denture tablets in an amount of water that can fill a carafe.
- Use a store-bought coffee machine cleaner.
Tips to Remember
There are a number of things that can make cleaning far less stressful and give you a delectable cup of Joe every single time.
- Use Filtered Water: Fewer impurities in the water you use to brew will lead to reduced mineral build-up. So getting one of those faucet mounted filters is a good choice. Stay away from softened water though as it interferes with the taste.
- Get a Modern Drip Machine: If your coffee maker is old enough to go to college, then maybe it’s time you retired it. Modern versions have built-in filters and are more ergonomically-designed to allow for easier cleaning.
- Make Use of Ice Cubes: To clean the carafe, you can use a mixture of ice cubes, water and a bit of salt. Simply swirl it around and rinse.
- Consider a French Press: it may take a bit of getting used to, but French Presses are much easier to clean, especially the stainless steel kind. And it also gives you major bragging rights.
- Brew Using Old Grounds After Cleaning: After you’re done with the whole cleaning process, you can opt to brew using old grounds to prime the machine before whipping-up a fresh batch of coffee.
- Don’t Use Baking Soda: it may be good for a lot of things, but baking soda can ruin your machine. So stay away from it!
- Avoid Filling The Reservoir With the Carafe (I'm very guilty on this one): Doing so might introduce oils into the system, undoing all your hard work.
And there you go. Give your coffeemaker a bit of tender loving care and it will give it right back. There is a lot that goes into making a great cup of coffee, and with proper cleaning you’ll be on your way to making one that leaves everyone dumbfounded.