Keeping things Clean
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Making coffee can sometimes create a little more mess than we want, here are a couple of tips in keeping things clean and making clean up easier.
The Drip Tray
On most machines with a 3 way valve the group vents into this area. Some of the cheaper machines have plastic drip trays, but many of the High end ones have a steel tray. Steel is tough and easy to clean, but why not make life easier for yourself. Search, steal or buy a plastic (tupperware) food container and place it in the drip tray. It is a lot easier to clean (no sharp square corners) and does a great job of keeping things clean.
On top of the cup rack
This is another area that can get a bit grubby. To prevent this I use a smaller plastic tray to catch any drips after I remove the cup. It also serves as a handy place to put the portafilter to dray or carry under a "spouted" (non naked) portafilter when carrying to the knock box or sink. If there is space, you can even place the cup or shotglass directly into it and avoid scratching the cup rack surface. I personally use a small folded square of "J Cloth" or similar for this.
It's second and most important purpose is as a small easily emptied receptacle to contain the water when flushing the group clean, the group brush can also be rinsed in the water (contained within the plastic container) when brushing around the group. Afterwards it's simply emptied into the sink. This means the drip tray rea;;y ponly deals with the vent from the groups 3 way valve and requires emptying much less often.