One of the sad facts of life is that the things you own need to be taken care of, and often by taking care of your things, you are taking care of yourself.
One of my great necessities (and pleasures) in life is my coffee. And I always want it tasting as good as it can – one sure way to start my day on a bad footing is with an awful cup of coffee!
Here’s where taking care of your coffee maker comes in. A dirty coffee maker makes lousy coffee. And if you have an electric coffee maker, especially one with a reservoir, it can actually make you sick. I’m talking bacteria here
This article will cover how to clean several types of coffee makers: French press, Glass pour-over, percolator, and drip coffee maker. If you have a single serve coffee machine (aka Keurig), that will be covered in a separate article (link here to How to Clean Your Keurig).
First and foremost, read the instructions that come with your coffee maker (and specifically, how to clean it). As well, any parts of your coffee maker that are dishwasher safe should be put through the dishwasher often. That includes carafes, permanent use filters, and filter baskets.
Also remember to clean your coffee grinder and your coffee scoop. As well, coffee contains oils that can go rancid, so make sure that you wash your coffee canister / container periodically. I do this every time I refill it with fresh beans. I never top off old beans with fresh ones. Just saying…
How to clean Your French Press
First off, the easiest way to extricate the coffee grounds from your French press is to fill the pot (with used grounds) about a third full with water. Swirl it around, then quickly dump it into a fine mesh strainer over your sink. You can either compost the grounds or toss them into the trash. Even if you have a garbage disposal, it’s better not to put coffee grounds (or tea leaves for that matter) down the sink. It can become a costly mess. Trust me.
Take apart the plunger assembly (everything should very easily unscrew), and use dish soap to wash everything. If the carafe is stained, use some baking soda on a sponge. Rinse everything very well, and dry with a clean dish towel. If you have a dishwasher, load the carafe on the top rack and put the plunger parts into the silverware basket (or on the top rack).
I do this on pretty much a daily basis, but I normally don’t do the full monty in between pots if I make multiple pots on any given morning.
How to clean your Chemex
Also known as a pour-over, this kind of pot presents a couple of challenges… The neck is narrow, so unless you have freakishly small hands, you will NEVER be able to get your hand into the pot (and if you do, you may never get it out!). The other challenge is that the classic Chemex pot has a wooden collar that is not dishwasher safe.
There are two ways to clean this kind of coffee maker. The first is an old restaurant trick. Fill the pot halfway with crushed ice, pour in a handful of coarse kosher salt, the juice of a lemon, and just enough water to make it slushy. Vigorously swirl around for a minute or two. Don’t get carried away or you risk smashing the pot. Rinse well and dry. Alternately, you can use a long handled brush and some baking soda or dish soap. Again, rinse well and dry.
Unless you have very hard water, you can rinse the pot between uses and do this kind of cleaning once or twice a month.
How to clean your percolator
Fill your percolator with water and a few tablespoons of baking soda. Run it through a cycle and discard the water. Give the inside of the pot a good scrub with a brush or a nylon sponge. Next, fill the pot with half water, half vinegar. Again, run it through a cycle. Pour out the water / vinegar solution, rinse well, and run it through with just plain water. Rinse again and dry. Voila! This will work for both stovetop and electric models.
Unless you have very hard water, you can do this cleaning once a month or so. As well, I put my stainless steel brew basket, pole, and glass knob in the dishwasher fairly frequently.
How to clean your drip coffee maker
This is the coffee pot that is most likely to make you sick, as this is the machine with a water reservoir, which can hold all sorts of nasty things like yeast, mold, and bacteria!
First off, empty the water reservoir and wipe it out with a damp cloth or paper towel. If you notice any grime (aka dirt), try using a small brush to clean it out. Next, fill the reservoir with a mixture of half water, half white vinegar. Leave it to soak for an hour. Turn on the machine and let it run a full brew cycle. Run two more cycles with fresh water to rinse out the machine. Put the filter basket and the carafe and top in the dishwasher (or clean with a sponge and some baking soda as described for the french press). Wipe off the outside.
If you notice a heavy build-up of hard water (also known as limescale), buy a descaling solution and follow the package directions. (Link here to de-scaler).
None of these methods takes too much time or effort and will ensure that your coffee is as good as it can be!