Espresso Machine Cleaning and the “Seasoning” Shot

Espresso Machine Cleaning and the “Seasoning” Shot

by Jason Haeger


We recently had a question from Andy about the recommended “seasoning shot” on the instructions of most espresso machine back-flush detergent packages.

Andy asks,

Is it really necessary to pull a shot right after cleaning the group head on my espresso machine?  It seems kind of unnecessary to dirty it up right after cleaning it.  Why do they say to do this?

Good question, Andy.  The long standing belief was that a machine could be “too” clean, and that the bare metals would impart a metallic taste to the espresso.  The fix for this was to “season” the machine with a throw-away shot of espresso to leave a thin coating of coffee oils as a buffer for the next shots, until the next cleaning.

What many had done instead, was to simply let the machine remain clean over night, and use your “sink shots” (or throw-away shots) as seasoning shots when dialing in your espresso grinder the next morning.  This is good practice, and this is what I recommend.

Whether or not the myth of a machine that is “too” clean is true is a topic of debate.  Some believe that the first shot behaves as a pre-heating practice to get the group head to the proper brewing temperature.  If this is true, then, theoretically, a 30-second backflush with a blind filterbasket (or backflush disk) should do the trick.  Every machine is different in the way the group head is saturated with hot water, so take this with a healthy dose of salt.

In summary:
DO pull a throw-away shot to “season” your machine.  However, WAIT to do it until you are dialing in your grinder for the next use.

That’s all for this issue of :
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