Barista Magazine

FEB-MAR 2019

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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68 barista magazine attention, consider tempting fate and doing a little experi- ment. Hit the button. You'll hear a fast click and a swoosh, and you'll be startled and immediately take your hand away from the machine. All will be calm, but you'll notice you're holding your breath as you wait for a fl ood of water or sparks and steam to come pouring out of the espresso ma- chine. But—there's nothing, so you simply shrug and carry on to do your lobby sweep. I thought about ending my response there but realized I never answered your question. The manual-fi ll button sim- ply adds water to the machine. Nowadays, it's used as a by- pass just in case the auto-fi ll function fails. Back in the day, baristas had to always manually fi ll the espresso machines. As they used the machine throughout the day, they would have to keep an eye on the sight glass to make sure the machine didn't run out of water. There are some concerns about the button getting pushed too much or held down for too long. Doing that can cause the boiler to overfi ll or the dreaded low-steam pressure issue to arise. Worst-case sce- nario would be water leaking out of the pressure-relief valve and vacuum breaker. That's why so many machines have the warnings posted to them. If you're tired of the Post-Its, you can always ask your technician to deactivate the button. —Double J Backfl ushing: with or without screens? With! The screen is there to keep solids (including pow- dered detergents) from entering the group and clogging or contaminating it. You defi nitely want to keep them in place if you are planning on putting anything in the basket or blind (coffee, detergent powder, etc.). Double J and I (and likely quite a few other technicians around the world) have cleaned our fair share of solidifi ed espresso-machine-clean- ing detergents out of brew valves or internal group tubes. After backfl ushing, you can drop the screens, and the gunk that was on there will be much easier to get off as well! —Alex Got a question about coffee equipment? We'd love to help! Just email your thoughts and queries to highmaintenance@baristamagazine.com. /hellosweetbird

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