Quick hit here, coffee kids. Just like with an automobile, keep your coffee equipment happy and it’ll keep you happy. With cars it’s tires and oil changes (and other, less regular maintenance as needed). The espresso machine equivalent to that is changing out “gaskets and baskets,” meaning, the gaskets that go up into the top of your espresso machine grouphead and portafilter brew baskets. These days of laser etching means baskets are more sturdy than they used to be and have a bit more life in them. But gaskets, by virtue of the fact that they are made of rubber–necessarily need to be changed out regularly so that they don’t get brittle and begin to leak all over your beautifully pulled espresso shots. The frequency of gasket changes will vary with your use. We change our about once a quarter, before gaskets have had a chance to hardify.
Below are two gaskets. The top one is obviously the older one. Some of that warping around the edges is actually the pull of the awl used to get them out, as well as the little dimples that are part of the gasket design. But there are indeed signs of warp and wane on what should otherwise be smooth edges, as in the new gasket toward the bottom of the picture.
For the price of a couple good shots of espresso you can ensure that all the espresso shots you serve with be consistent in that your equipment will remain in good working order. So keep ’em clean, folks, and they’ll return the favor.