With the recent announcement that New Zealand will be moving to an Alert Level 4 on Wednesday 25 March at 11:59 pm, many cafes will need to temporarily shut their doors to help combat the spread of Covid-19. With that in mind, we would like to provide you with some recommendations on what to do as you prepare to close and what to do on your upon your return. This advice is designed to ensure you get the best performance from the machine, not waste energy and keep the coffee tasting great for the happy day when our businesses are all allowed to re-open.
preparing your espresso machine for temporary closure
- Carry out normal daily/weekly cleaning – back flushing with a chemical cleaner, wiping surfaces.
- Deep clean the drain box area, so that residual coffee doesn’t go mouldy.
- Turn the power off for the espresso machine (at machine switch, then at wall socket)
- With water mains still open, let the machine cool down. When close to room temperature, shut off water supply to equipment.
- There’s no need to empty the boilers for a four week shutdown, unless your location gets cold enough to freeze water pipes.
- For closures of more than three months, you should drain the boilers – requires a trained technician – and continue to store your machine in a heated environment if possible.
- Make a plan to restart equipment prior to reopening your café
- Turn off grinders and any other bar appliances at the wall
turning things back on when you return
Four or more weeks is quite a long time for an espresso machine to sit cold and still, and parts that are used to being hot and moving can sometimes play up.
Well maintained machinery that was properly prepared for the shut-down should be absolutely fine, but even then, there are a couple of things to look out for when you reopen.
If you’re worried at all, or come across any problems, please don’t hesitate to get in touch on (09) 307 2060 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org for free advice about your La Marzocco equipment or to arrange for a technician to visit.
before switching on
- Don’t turn on power or water supplies just yet. First check for any signs of pest damage, nesting, etc. If you can, remove the top trays and peek inside.
- Many water filter manufacturers recommend replacing filters that have sat idle for more than four weeks, primarily because they can be a place where bacteria grow.
- If you choose not to replace yours, flush though five litres of water before use.
- Check for mould, especially if the machine was not thoroughly cleaned before shut-down. Problem areas include:
- Under diffusion screens
- In the drain box
- Milk wands
- signs of pest damage?
- Any mould?
- First turn on the water supply, then open one of the steam wands, then switch on the power at the wall and at the machine switch.
- If your model has three switch positions, turn to 1 first, wait for five seconds (it might auto-fill), then switch to 2
- Later models may require you to also press one of the keypad buttons to exit ‘Stand By’ mode.
- You may hear the machine auto-fill at this point, if it needed to top up. Close the open steam wand once it’s done.
- Stay nearby your machine during the 15 minute heating period. Keep a lookout for any unusual leaks, hisses or burning smells.
If you know what the vacuum-breaker valve is, check that it seals properly. When working normally, it will release steam into the drain box for about 30 seconds as the steam boiler passes boiling point, then suddenly seal and stop hissing.
- machine powers on?
- machine fills
- Vacuum breaker valve seals?
- steam pressure gauge settles 1.2 – 1.4 bar?
- sound of steam leak?
- water on bench under machine?
- unusual smells?
- water flows from each group when activated?
Flushing & Seasoning
- Run all groups for at least two minutes, taking care not to overflow the drain box or waste bucket!
- Open each steam wand for at least one minute – check that the steam smells clean, not tainted by old milk.
- Empty at least two litres of water from the hot tap. (Many La Marzocco models have a menu option to drain the steam boiler automatically through the hot tap – call us to find out how to access this feature)
- Season the machine by brewing and discarding at least one espresso though each group.
- Waste water drains away?
- Steam smells clean?
Back to Normal?
A long idle period does make one or two issues more likely to crop up. But don’t worry, we’re just a phone call away if you need advice.
- Jammed valves. Sometimes a group head solenoid valve will stay shut even when you press go. Switching the group on and off 10-20 times can sometimes be enough to put this right.
Getting the blind-filter out and backflushing across all groups can also help.
- Blocked Restrictors. If you notice imbalanced, low, or zero flow of water from the group heads, you may be suffering from a blocked restrictor, which will require a technician to investigate.
- water flows evenly across all groups?
Again, If you’re worried at all, have questions not covered here, or come across problems, please don’t hesitate to get in touch on (09) 307 2060 or by emailing email@example.com for free advice about your La Marzocco equipment or to arrange for a technician to visit.