Cleanliness is next to godliness or too much of a good thing
October 21, 2007 8:59 AM   Subscribe

Is it worthwhile to clean your coffee pot and filter basket in between every use?

I don't think that your coffee pot needs more than a water rinse in between brews, and that one should give it a vinegar cleaning once a month or so. And taking the coffee maker apart to clean out the basket every morning is excessive.

Counter argument below (from a different person):

Having old dried coffee in your pot will not add to the flavor of the fresh brew. If there is old residual oils remaining, they need to be washed thoroughly away with soap and water or it will make the fresh brew bitter.
posted by overhauser to Food & Drink (24 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
When I worked in a restaurant, the pots got washed at the end of the night but rinsed out with hot water in between uses. I'm not sure how much oil makes it through the paper filter.
posted by glip at 9:03 AM on October 21, 2007


I use filtered water in my filter coffee maker, and so never need to brew vinegar in it. I rinse the basket out once a day, to wash the grounds out, but I've never cleaned it in hot soapy water.

I also wash and reuse every coffee filter at least 5 times. Towards the end of the week, I tend to notice more black bits at the bottom of the mug, which make the coffee bitter, but the rest of the mug is fine when i drink it.
posted by Rabulah at 9:04 AM on October 21, 2007


I have not found that residual oils make my coffee bitter and I am likewise a rinse-daily-wash-monthly person and have been since time immemorial. Then again, I like my coffee so dark it's vaguely reminiscent of cat piss so I may not be the best judge on sublime coffee. I also mostly drink espresso which is easier to clean between coffeings.

Really though it's a toilet seat issue. The best way to have coffee is the way that the people who drink it like it. If that person is you, do what brings you the most joy in the morning (since pre-coffee joy is such a rare beast). If that person is you and an SO, you will likely be more joyful not starting the day with an argument about rinsing out the coffee basket.
posted by jessamyn at 9:14 AM on October 21, 2007


Yes, cleaning the pot will help wash away excess oils and grounds. But is it worth the time and effort? No. Also, I find that daily cleaning with soap can leave a nasty soapy after-taste in the machine. Not so good first thing in the morning.

My advice, to take a step to the side for a moment, is to ditch the coffee pot entirely. Buy a Melita or preferably Chemex coffee pot. They are cheap, efficient, environmentally friendly, easier to clean, take up less space, and make coffee that tastes 150% better than anything your Mr. Coffee can spew at you because they have no series of tubes for the water or coffee to go through; thus no chance of clogging, congesting, or lime buildup-ing...

All you need is a pot, a filter, and some hot water and you're ready to go. It will improve your coffee immensely and reduce your energy consumption. Mmmmmm, Luddite coffee...
posted by willie11 at 9:18 AM on October 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


I can taste it if there's old coffee sitting at the bottom of my filter basket when I brew the next batch. I like to give that part a rinse with water before I brew; I don't use soap.

If you can't taste it though, why worry about it?
posted by ikkyu2 at 9:24 AM on October 21, 2007


I just rinse out the pot and basket before brewing. I've never even done the vinegar thing at all. Should I?
posted by CunningLinguist at 9:24 AM on October 21, 2007


How funny; I just had this discussion with a couple of co-workers. My husband and I were both brought up to just dump out the old coffee and rinse out the filter basket when making a fresh pot. I know about the vinegar thing, but to me it seems like you'd just end up with vinegary coffee. I've never had a problem with the flavor of my coffee, but frankly, it's a caffeine delivery system and not a gourmet taste treat (to me); as long as the taste is somewhere above that of day-old folgers I'm good.
posted by TochterAusElysium at 9:32 AM on October 21, 2007


To clean a coffee pot:

Put salt, a cut up lemon(squeeze the juice on top of the salt) , and some ice cubes in your coffee pot. Swirl around. Watch as ice forms on the outside.

Rinse and enjoy your handiwork.
posted by konolia at 9:33 AM on October 21, 2007


I'm a daily hot-water-rinser.

When I'm feeling ambitious on a weekend (those types of weekends where you go around dusting mouldings and windexing mirrors and picture frames) I'll wash them with hot soapy water, just like hand washing anything else, but that's it.

Oh, the exception is when I've let the old grounds sit there for a week and I've got mold growth, in which case I definitely wash everything with soap. :)
posted by iguanapolitico at 9:37 AM on October 21, 2007


I don't think you need to clean it regularly...I never have grounds floating around in the filter basket or caraffe. I clean mine about once a week. When I had a dishwasher I would put them in the top rack - now I just handwash with a teensy bit of soap. Don't use too much soap or you'll be stuck with soapy-tasting coffee!

I'm not sure Rabulah's advice is something I'd take...paper filters aren't meant to be used more than once, then they start to break down...if you're worried about the environmental impact, I'd get a gold filter (but that's another thread entirely!)

If you are getting a lot of grounds left over in the basket and caraffe, you need to get better filters or make sure they are sitting properly in the basket so water goes through them not around the sides. If you have too many residual oils, you might want to buy more expensive coffee and a darker roast (I swear by Peet's French Roast).
posted by radioamy at 10:11 AM on October 21, 2007


I am forced to clean my coffee brewer meticulously every time I use it, or the coffee tastes terrible to me-- and the wages of this virtue are that it's been years since I really enjoyed any non-espresso I hadn't made myself.
posted by jamjam at 10:30 AM on October 21, 2007


Hot water rinse before every use - I find that you get the brown film building up on the pot after a few days so when I notice that I'll wash with soapy water...
posted by koahiatamadl at 10:46 AM on October 21, 2007


My advice, to take a step to the side for a moment, is to ditch the coffee pot entirely. Buy a Melita or preferably Chemex coffee pot. They are cheap, efficient, environmentally friendly, easier to clean, take up less space, and make coffee that tastes 150% better than anything your Mr. Coffee can spew at you because they have no series of tubes for the water or coffee to go through; thus no chance of clogging, congesting, or lime buildup-ing...

unless he's set of cheap preground dept store coffee...

i'm not sure how much it matters if you are already ok with the taste of coffee from an automatic drip coffee maker. not to be too harsh. it sounds like at least you are getting the mineral residue out periodically and as long as you are rinsing it out before making a new batch who's to say...

i think the automatic drip is built for maxwell house, if you have expensive beans really try the melita (i've never heard of the chemex but it's the same idea), it will never break, no electricity and makes really decent coffee.
posted by geos at 12:08 PM on October 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


As one of the finicky people that can taste/smell soap on most things: I would do exactly what you do already. Data point: commercial espresso machines are properly only cleaned once a week with soap, otherwise the seals can dry out. If hot water is good enough for a machine that makes hundreds of shots in a day, it's good enough for your machine and carafe.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:12 PM on October 21, 2007


Clean it every day, or more often if you have a pot of coffee that has gone stale and you want to make a new one. You can taste the difference, at least I can. You can try it the other way and see. If you can't taste the difference perhaps you can be a little less anal about cleaning it. I also think the dishwasher with really hot water does a better job than hand washing in the sink.
posted by caddis at 12:28 PM on October 21, 2007


oneirodynia: Wait, what? Commercial espresso machines are only cleaned once a week?

I mean, I know that they're cleaned that often at my coffee shop, because I'm almost certain that I'm the only one who bothers to do it and I don't work that often, but policy-wise aren't they supposed to get cleaned every day at the very least?
posted by felix grundy at 1:01 PM on October 21, 2007


Once a week with soap. They should be flushed out every night with hot water. (This is in accordance with the manual that FAEMA machines come with.)
posted by oneirodynia at 1:23 PM on October 21, 2007


I thought vinegar was about keeping mineral deposits from building up, not about cleaning coffee oils.
posted by dws at 4:54 PM on October 21, 2007


Yea, commercial machines are (IME) cleaned with hot water each day and cleaned with hideous commercial soaps once a week then rinsed very carefully to make sure all the soap is gone.
posted by jacalata at 5:53 PM on October 21, 2007


Hot water rinse daily, here, and once a week a quick cleanse with Urnex's Clearly Coffee (or CleanCaf if it's got an oil or scale build-up.)
posted by deCadmus at 6:28 PM on October 21, 2007


Am I missing something about the Melita? As in, someone said you save energy by using it instead of a Mr. Coffee or the like. But to get boiling water (to pour into the Melita), don't you have to turn on a stove (and use energy)? Or microwave the water (and use energy)? I mean, my faucet doesn't provide boiling hot water, not at the heat I want my coffee.
posted by Smalltown Girl at 6:42 PM on October 21, 2007


A hot water kettle (like this one) heats quickly, and quite efficiently. I use one of these for all of my pour-over brewing -- Melitta filter cone, Chemex, press pots, Eva Cafe Solo and Bodum Bistro.
posted by deCadmus at 7:20 PM on October 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


Whoa. Sorry about the derail; thanks for the info. I'll pass it on to my boss.

Good thing we're so lax, I guess.
posted by felix grundy at 7:24 PM on October 21, 2007


Drip type coffee makers, be they Melitta or Mr. Coffee, might have substantially different cleaning requirements, than commercial espresso machines. For the former, my tip is to use a drop of standard, gel type chlorinated liquid dishwasher detergent and a vegetable brush as your cleaning method. Automatic dishwasher detergent has surfactants, bleach, and rinse agents that standard dish soaps don't, which greatly aid the removal of coffee oils from glass carafe and plastic filter baskets, while greatly facilitating the clean rinsing of all parts. The vegetable brush provides good agitation of the cleaning solution, and is great for working along the interior plastic spines of most filter baskets.

If your coffee water is mineral hard, and you use a drip type coffee maker such as Mr. Coffee, a monthly vinegar brew cycle (or Urnex) will remove the scale that builds up internally on the water heating elements, keeping your brew temperature in the desired range (190° - 195° F), which can noticeably affect coffee flavor and strength.
posted by paulsc at 7:58 PM on October 21, 2007


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