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What is this in my portafilter, how do I prevent it from happening?
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > What is this in...  
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Shizam
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Shizam
Joined: 4 Feb 2013
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Location: Mountain View
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Posted Mon Feb 4, 2013, 6:31pm
Subject: What is this in my portafilter, how do I prevent it from happening?
 

The bottom of our portafilters are covered/impregnated with this brown, rusty looking something, it almost looks pock-marked with it and I'm trying to figure out what is causing it, how to prevent it and if possible how to remove it

Little background:
We have an awesome espresso machine (Mirage Veloce) in our office and some of us are the unspoken guardians of its wellbeing, we've had it for maybe 10 months.  Currently its used to make maybe ~30 cups of coffee a day throughout the day, gets a full flush cleaning once a week (including soaking portafilters).  During the day the portafilters are dumped of the puck immedately (99% of the time), rinsed with hot water and then placed back in the group where they sit till the next user, that includes overnight, they're never taken apart and washed/dried in the evening or during the day and the machine is left on 24/7 (the manual says to do so).

So, what is that disgusting buildup?  I noticed it about 6 months back during a cleaning (we used to not clean the portafilters) and only last night did it occur to me to see if it affects flavor (OMG IT DOES!), so I bought a new stainless steel portafilter from Chris' Coffee but I don't want this to happen again.  Is it actual rust, is it residue from our water, do we need a water purifier?

Thanks!

Sam

Shizam: IMG_1687-50.jpg
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steamer
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Posted Mon Feb 4, 2013, 7:02pm
Subject: Re: What is this in my portafilter, how do I prevent it from happening?
 

I cant say for sure, but it looks like from your photo that the chrome has worn, and exposing the brass casting.
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Shizam
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Shizam
Joined: 4 Feb 2013
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Location: Mountain View
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Posted Mon Feb 4, 2013, 9:46pm
Subject: Re: What is this in my portafilter, how do I prevent it from happening?
 

What would eat through the chrome like that, we never rub/polish/scrub the portafilter?  Is it a heat issue, should we not be leaving the portafilter attached to the group 24/7?
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frcn
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Posted Mon Feb 4, 2013, 10:39pm
Subject: Re: What is this in my portafilter, how do I prevent it from happening?
 

Probably thin chroming on it to begin with. maybe time to find a drill pres and a hole saw (or a metal lathe and skilled operator) and remove the offending portion of the portafilter body (ie. the bottom).

 
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Shizam
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Shizam
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Location: Mountain View
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Mon Feb 4, 2013, 10:51pm
Subject: Re: What is this in my portafilter, how do I prevent it from happening?
 

frcn Said:

Probably thin chroming on it to begin with. maybe time to find a drill pres and a hole saw (or a metal lathe and skilled operator) and remove the offending portion of the portafilter body (ie. the bottom).

Posted February 4, 2013 link

Hah,
We have a bottomless portafilter already, its not very popular in the office due to its proclivity to spray n00bs :)
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Markarian
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Posted Mon Feb 4, 2013, 11:35pm
Subject: Re: What is this in my portafilter, how do I prevent it from happening?
 

A Veloce in the office. That's the most Silicon Valley thing I have ever seen. At least good to know people are taking care of it.
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espresso_drinker
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Posted Tue Feb 5, 2013, 5:26am
Subject: Re: What is this in my portafilter, how do I prevent it from happening?
 

Does the gunk come off if you scrub it something like a scotch-brite pad? What's left when you do? If you see brass (different color than the chrome) then you know something has eaten through the chroming. I'm not sure how the Voloce's portafilters are made, but I kind of doubt it's rust. Does the gunk impart burnt coffee flavor on your shots? It could simply be the baked-on remains of hundreds of pulls?

The water filter is a good idea, but I think the machine's longevity would better be served by making sure the water is not hard (high in calcium). Some inline filters do have resin beads that soften water.  This would help reduce the buildup of mineral deposits inside the boilers. As for filtering your water (activated charcoal/RO), I think that would have more impact to taste as opposed to residue buildup on the portafilter.  If you think about it, you add plenty of TDS to the stuff flowing over the bottom of the portafilter even if you start with pure water.

I was starting to notice some stuff building up on the bottom of my portafilter, too, so I took off the metal ring that holds the basket in place. It makes tamping and puck removal a bit unorthodox but cleaning is much simpler. I simply blast the portafilter (sans basket) with the steam wand and wipe after I'm finished.

I think the 24x7 rule in the manual is there to ensure everything on the machine is at temperature when you pull shots. As you start to really hone your skills, you'll start to understand which components heat up slow/fast and where you can bend this rule a bit.
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calblacksmith
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Posted Tue Feb 5, 2013, 6:48am
Subject: Re: What is this in my portafilter, how do I prevent it from happening?
 

Old oils will build up on the bottom of the PF and it is a brown crud that gets thicker and thicker, it will turn nearly solid black if left long enough.
The chrome, if it is going away, may have been very thin to start with and cleaning with a green scrub pad will abrade it after a while. It should not be disolved by the coffee so if the pf has never been cleaned, I can't say why the chrome is having issues.

 
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CMIN
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Posted Tue Feb 5, 2013, 8:19am
Subject: Re: What is this in my portafilter, how do I prevent it from happening?
 

My PF usually looks like that by the end of the month (maybe not as bad) when I go to clean with cafiza each month. But after leaving the PF in cafiza it looks brand new, oils and coloring gone.
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dspear99ca
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Joined: 17 Jan 2013
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Location: BC, Canada
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Posted Tue Feb 5, 2013, 10:21am
Subject: Re: What is this in my portafilter, how do I prevent it from happening?
 

Sure looks like brass to me.  

You can buy some specialty cleaner and see if it is in fact mineral deposits or if the chrome is just gone daddy gone.  I use automatic dishwasher soap powder and boiling water, fill up a mug and dunk the (metal portion only) PF in there for an hour or so.  It takes off everything that shouldn't be there.  If you want a gentler de-scaler to start, use vinegar and hot water soak, it'll dissolve any calcium & related deposits very quickly.  It won't hurt steel, chrome or brass, but will oxidize non-anodized aluminum pretty quick.
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