Pod-based one-cup coffee brewers like the Nespresso and Keurig came into our lives and made everything simpler. No more losing six bucks to a cafe for one cappuccino. Buh-bye, wasted leftover coffee in the bottom of the pot because you really only wanted one cup. While these personal brewers make caffeination infinitely more convenient, they still need regular maintenance. Even though all you even put in these coffee machines are little pods and water, when bits of spewed coffee and water cohabitate in the brewer's warm environment for long enough calcium buildup, mold, and even bacteria can begin to grow.
Oh yes, it’s another daily use kitchen item that does in fact need to be cleaned. The good news is it’s a really simple process, and you only have to do it twice a year. Plus, after a good cleaning, the machines are no longer sputtering and clogged, and therefore tend to churn out smooth, richer-tasting coffee. Grab your trusty jug of white vinegar and let’s get down to business.
Note: Before cleaning the machines this way, check to make sure your brewer doesn’t have a “decalcify” or “descale” setting; if it does, the machine might require a specific cleansing pod. Check your brewer’s instructions to make sure.
Cleaning a one-cup drip coffee brewer (like a Keurig)
To clean single serving drip coffee brewers, unplug the machine and pull out all removable elements: lid, drip tray, water reservoir, and K-cup holder. Throw out any used pods. Hand wash these pieces with warm, soapy water. Place all except the K-cup holder on a kitchen towel to dry.
Take apart the K-cup holder (you’ll need to be a bit forceful if it’s your first time cleaning this piece) and remove debris around the needle with a clean metal paperclip. While not every single-serving drip coffeemaker is exactly the same, most models work similarly.
Replace all the pieces you just washed and place a mug under the spout of the machine. Fill the water reservoir with half white vinegar and half water. Run the brew cycle in the size of the mug and repeat until the water-vinegar mixture is finished, dumping the mug after each cycle. Rinse the water reservoir with hot water until it no longer smells of vinegar and place a clean mug under the spout. Run the brew cycle a few more times until the water has no smell. Wipe the outside of the machine with a damp cloth.
Keurig recommends repeating this process every three to six months to prevent calcium buildup and bacteria.
Cleaning a one-cup espresso brewer (like a Nespresso)
To clean an espresso brewer, unplug the machine and disassemble all removable parts. Dump any empty pods, and hand wash the machine’s water reservoir, drip tray, and pod canister. Dry the pieces and replace.
To decalcify the brewer, fill the water reservoir with half white vinegar and half water. Place a mug under the spout and run the machine in the longest espresso setting. Repeat until the water-vinegar mixture is used, dumping the mug when full. Rinse the water reservoir well with hot water, then fill with clean water. Place a clean mug under the spout and run the machine at least four times, or until the product no longer smells of vinegar.
Nespresso recommends descaling at least twice a year.