How to Clean Portafilter Between Shots

By Brooke Davis •  Updated: 11/19/20 •  4 min read
Portafilter helps coffee lovers brew like a barista. When you use our links, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

That strong, rich espresso shot wouldn’t be possible without a portafilter. One of the main components of an espresso machine, the portafilter is where your coffee grounds sit as water runs through them to make coffee.

As a result, the portafilter will contain the used-up grounds after pulling the shot, which for the most part, means that cleaning is due. If you’re wondering why and how to clean the portafilter between shots, then keep reading!

Why Portafilter Cleaning is Important

Imagine pulling an espresso shot using a dirty machine, do leftover oils and impurities floating in your cup of coffee sound delicious? I’ll bet you said no.

Of course, you’d be right! Not even the best, most expensive coffee beans can justify or make a shot pulled through a dirty portafilter taste good.

If you’re a coffee enthusiast, then you already know that the thick crema topping your espresso comes from the essential oils in your coffee beans. These oils have an ugly side though; they’re also the reason behind that “off” flavor of coffee that develops after a while.

This rancidity happens when the oils emulsify and stick to the metal water screen (sometimes behind it as well) of the espresso machine. This results in the formation of a film on the filter basket and portafilter.

Shot after shot, this film will build up to the point it clogs the holes of the portafilter basket and leaves residue inside the portafilter spout. Now, if you could remove such nasty impurities, why wouldn’t you?

Luckily for all of us coffee lovers, these deposits can be easy to remove as long as you opt for regular cleaning.

How often to clean the portafilter?

We recommend cleaning the portafilter every 10 shots. At home, however, the demand is far less so there’s no reason to leave it dirty. For convenience, consider cleaning the portafilter right after pulling your shot and before drinking your coffee – just get it out of your way.

Should I clean the portafilter between every shot?

You don’t have to clean the portafilter after every shot you pull. Doing so will certainly make things easier in the long run, but it’s not exactly possible if you work at a coffee shop pulling dozens of espresso shots daily.

How to empty the espresso filter?

If you’re wondering how to empty the portafilter, actually it’s very simple all you have to do is turn it upside down then give it a shake or lightly tap over your knock box or sink until the puck becomes loose and drops out.

Now that the questions of “why” and “how often” are over with, it’s time to get your hands dirty!.

How to Clean Portafilter Between Shots

Total Time: 5 minutes

1. Quick Portafilter Clean

How to Clean Portafilter Between Shots

Some may skip cleaning between every shot when they’re busy pulling shots back to back, but the majority of professional baristas do some form of cleaning between each shot and wouldn’t have it any other way.

In this case, here’s a quick way to get it done:

1. Flush the group head immediately after the shot while knocking the used up grounds out. Keep this up until the water runs clear.

2. Wipe the portafilter using a clean and dry rag to make sure there are no leftover grounds.

2. Deep Portafilter Clean


For deeper cleansing, follow the steps below:

1. Thoroughly rinse and wipe the basket.

2. Take out the portafilter and break it down. This means removing the spouts and disassembling any additional cover the spouts include.

3. Scrub the inner surfaces of the portafilter body and the spouts.

4. Pour water into a large container, add some of your cleaning powder to the water, then stir to dissolve.

5. Place the portafilter parts into the detergent water and let them soak for at least 15 minutes. Note: It’s not recommended to submerge the plastic, Bakelite, or rubber handle in the cleaning water. Such materials can be damaged by the cleanser, developing rust over time.

6. After soaking is finished, use clean water to rinse all of the parts.

7. Scrub once more and then wipe dry with a clean rag.

8. If the portafilter spouts are open slot, look closely to make sure that there are no trapped oils lingering behind that the soaking didn’t dissolve. If so, scrub it clean using a small round brush.

9. Reassemble your portafilter.

Estimated Cost: 5 USD


  • Water
  • Cleaning Powder
  • Detergent
  • Portafilter cleaner


  • Scrub
  • Small round brush

Materials: Clean and dry rag

Wrap Up

As you can tell by now, cleaning the portafilter is crucial to maintaining the delicious, rich taste of your espresso shot every time. It’s important that you know how to clean the portafilter between shots so you get the job done without damaging any parts in the process.

Brooke Davis

Hi everyone, my name is Brooke and I’m a Barista and freelance writer. I love brewing coffee and my favorite coffee drink is without doubt an Americano (espresso with added hot water). When I’m not busy making or writing about coffee you’ll find me hanging out at the beach with friends in California where I am currently residing.

Keep Reading

Grab your FREE Tamper Sizing Guide!

No spam, ever. Opt out anytime. Privacy Policy.