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When I landed to my new job I was surprised that nobody cleans up the portafilter, leaving this dubious privilege to whomever is lucky enough to fix them coffee next. My new coworker, a good guy and a coffee connoisseur explained me that there's a good reason for this. I've accepted that explanation but, quite honestly, completely forgot through the course of time. It's just became to me a fact, it's just the way we are doing it here.

So, years passed by, this question has been reasonably raised again, the good guy actually relocated and I've realised that I just don't have any reasonable answer other than "it's a tradition!".

So my question is - what is considered the best practice - to clean the portafilter immediately after making coffee or leave it till next round?

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My new coworker, a good guy and a coffee connoisseur explained me that there's a good reason for this.

There is no good reason besides pure laziness. The stale coffee starts to oxidise and gets rancid fairly quickly, negatively impacting the next brew.

The best practice, which I've done myself and seen done in countless (specialty) cafés, is to knock out the grounds into a knock box and then wipe up the small bits of ground coffee with a microfiber cloth.

Depending on your type of portafilter there still may be a few drops of brewed coffee between the basket and spout, but this is barely enough to negatively impact the taste of the next coffee slightly.

If you're not in a rush and you want to go a step further, you can put the portafilter into the brew head with no ground coffee and just let it run hot water through it for a few seconds. This has the added benefit that any fluids or particles stuck in the brew head will also be flushed out.

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There's one use case for leaving the spent puck in the portafilter: a high volume coffee shop during peak business. The idea is described in David Schomer's Espresso Coffee: Professional Techniques.

If you're cranking out espresso as fast as possible, then it can be beneficial for temperature surfing to keep the old puck in there for the next 1-3 minutes before you pull the next shots because it helps retain heat in the group head.

But for the situation you describe and pretty much any situation where you're not temperature surfing, there's no benefit to be had from not cleaning right away. Even for the high volume coffee shop scenario, you pop the baskets and scrub the undersides as soon as the rush is over and clean the whole thing while you're at it. And backflush the group head to keep the upper screen clean, too.

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I clean the portafilter when I go to use it. The portafilter just needs to be completely dry otherwise your extraction will be affected. I wouldn't leave used pucks in the portafilter overnight or all day. So long as you're cleaning the screens in the group head and flushing your pipes regularly it doesn't matter too much.

source - I've been a specialty barista for over five years.

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I usually don't until I am making a coffee again. After reading this, it makes sense to empty the portafilter basket and rinse with water for a quick wash.

I will try adding this approach when I make/brew a coffee again.

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