Maintaining a clean coffee pot is one of the easiest ways to ensure that you always get the best possible cup of coffee. During the brewing process, oils and other particulates are extracted from the ground coffee. These are the components which are essential in giving coffee its unique flavor, color and texture. As brewed coffee is allowed to maintain contact with a surface, these oils and other particulates will begin to deposit on the surface. Over time, these deposits begin to thicken and become noticeable as a familiar brown color. Depending on the type of brewing method this may happen in as little as one or two coffee pots.
Residual coffee deposits can build up on components such as carafes, pots, air-pots, French Press containers, thermoses and other type of vessels. These are typically the types of equipment which will be required to maintain contact with brewed coffee for extended periods of time. As the deposits begin to thicken, they can alter the flavor of the coffee, often for the worse. Maintaining a clean surface will ensure that you always taste the coffee you are currently brewing and maintaining clean surfaces are easy!
So what is a coffee deposit? It is essentially layers of oils and fine coffee built up on a surface. These are anchored to the surface by adhering to small imperfections on the surface of the coffee equipment. So with these two primary factors identified, we can choose how to clean the equipment. It is well known that soap or other mild detergents are excellent for breaking-down or “loosening” anything oily. That was the easy one. However, many people attack a stain or deposit with an abrasive such as steel-wool. However, this practice should be avoided because these abrasives will create additional surface imperfections for a stain to re-deposit. This will accelerate the formation of new coffee deposits on the surface and decrease the usable life of your coffee equipment.
The primary defense in preventing or delaying deposit build-up is to rinse your coffee pot with warm water after each use. This eliminates a large majority of the residue from being deposited between each brewing. However, overtime this method with not prevent a coffee deposit build-up and then other cleaning methods will be needed. Cleaning coffee pots is easy and one of the best ways to do it requires very little effort. Just heat the coffee pot with hot water, add a modest amount of soap or other mild detergent, agitate the soap and water, and then let it sit for an hour. After the hour is up, wipe the surfaces with a dish cloth (remember, no abrasives) and the surface will wipe clean. Rinse thoroughly with cold water several times to clean and remove all the detergent.
Some deposits are a little tougher, such as Lime, scale, or calcification. These types of deposits can still easily be removed with commonly available liquids. The most common is Vinegar and second would be Citric Acid, both commonly available at a grocery store. To use these, mix a ratio of 2:1 (water:vinegar) or a ratio of 4:1 (water:Citric Acid) hot water to solution. Let these stand for 10 minutes or longer in the coffee pot, rinse with water, wipe clean, and then thoroughly rinse again with cold water.
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There are also several commercially available cleaners which can be located at various stores. Some of these are made specifically to remove coffee stains, others for calcareous deposits, but some of the best ones are for cleaning “beer” brewing equipment. Please ensure that you read, understand and follow the cleaning instructions on any of these, and always rinse thoroughly with cold water to remove any residual chemicals.
Finally, if you are a fan of more organic methods, you can clean your coffee pot using ice, water, lemon juice, and salt. Fill the coffee pot with crushed ice, add four tablespoons of lemon juice, a tablespoon of salt, agitate the solution to mix. Let the mixture stand for ten minutes and then stir the mixture for several minutes. Empty the mixture from the coffee pot, wipe down with a cloth and then rinse several times with cold water.