If you own or are thinking of owning an espresso machine, it’s important to know and understand one of the critic aspects of espresso machine care - scale buildup and descaling.
Natural minerals in water, especially that from most tap water, can cause scale to build up in the boiler and internal components of an espresso machine over time. Some detrimental affects of this issue can include:
- Lack of water pressure and water flow
- Issues with thermal stability
- Negative change in the taste of the coffee
- Corrosion of and strain on internal parts ultimately leading to machine failure
As such, it’s critical to be mindful of the issue, prevent it from happening, and understand how to help fix your machine if such issues occur.
Test Your Water Hardness
Water ‘hardness’ refers to the amount of mineral content in your water supply. Very hard water accumulates scale inside a machine at a much faster rate than soft water.
To prevent scale buildup, we recommend using only soft water inside your espresso machine. This not only will substantially reduce and or eliminate scale buildup, but it is a little-known fact that softer water also increases the extraction of your coffee leading to more full-bodied taste.
Some ways to easily soften your at-home water would be to use an under sink system, or a built-in water filter inside your espresso machine.
Some people also prefer to use mineral-free water such as distilled water to avoid the need for descaling all-together, however most coffee experts agree that some mineral content enhances the taste of the coffee.
With most types of water, descaling is recommended to be done a few times a year. This can vary depending on your region. Some places such as Montreal, Quebec, are known to have very hard water which leads to required descaling every few weeks.
Use the Right Descaling Solution for Your Machine
With all espresso machines, we strongly recommend using the branded descaling solution of the machine you are using. Certain descaling solutions can be corrosive to internal parts, depending on what type of materials are used inside.
For specific instructions on the descaling process for your machine, we recommend consulting the user manual of your machine for information. Procedures can vary quite a bit depending on the type of machine.