If your automatic espresso machine is preparing off-tasting and weak espresso shots or taking longer time than usual brew. In that case, the machine may be clogged up with limescale build-up.
All these issues indicate that your machine needs deep cleaning and descaling for proper functionality. No worries, I’ll guide you step-by-step about how to clean automatic espresso machine properly.
It’s a good practice to descale your machine once a month to ensure the perfect taste quality.
A Step-By-Step Guide to Cleaning Your Automatic Espresso Machine
Before exploring how to clean an automatic espresso machine, it’s better to learn about your espresso machine. So, let’s explore the Espresso Machine and troubleshoot the problem.
Possible Reasons and Troubleshooting for the Malfunctioning Machine
Before knowing how to clean your automatic espresso machine, you should be better aware of the root causes. So your machine can be damaged because of:
Why Clean Your Automatic Espresso Machine?
Why am I emphasizing cleaning? — A Super-automatic machine, without any doubt, comes with a hefty price tag, so you’ll definitely want a long time span for your coffee maker. Next, you can’t compromise the taste and quality of coffee after spending a few bucks.
Frankly – deep cleaning and descaling can solely maintain the taste and age of your Espresso machine. Is it tiresome or a time-consuming activity? No! No! No!
The best part of a super-automatic machine is that it demands less effort on your part as it rinses itself after every use. It also prompts you to descale it if you’re not using the filter. Read more about how automatic espresso machine works.
Why is Using Filters Always Recommended?
A cup of coffee is 98 percent water. Water comes with calcium and magnesium, which make it hard water. Hard water is not a health risk; it changes the taste of your coffee and clogs up your machine, and you know repairing can cost you extra.
So, a water filtration system gives a safe edge to maintain your coffee’s original taste and let the machine work well. Convinced?– Let’s check the water hardness before using an automatic espresso machine.
Read the complete article about the importance of quality water for brewing.
How to Test Water Hardness?
To nip the problem in the bud, test the hardness of your tap water before starting your automatic espresso machine. For this, most of the super-automatic machines come with a test strip. After testing your water, set the machine accordingly.
The total hardness of the water should be 35 to 85 ppm.
For soft water, you may use a water filtration system, install it In-line with your machine or fill the water tank with your filtered tap water. Luckily some machines include smart filters, so there’s no need for descaling, as the machine will do it automatically.
Jura produces such machines that come with a built-in filter. You can check here all the best Jura machines using the built-in filters.
Although these Bean-to-cup coffee machines have built-in descaling functions, you must manually descale it for deep cleaning. No worries, it’s shockingly easy and fun.
Do I Need to Descale My Automatic Espresso if I use a Filter?
Yes, descaling is mandatory even if you’re using filtered water in your machine. Filtered water reduces the chances of clogging up with limescale buildup, but it can’t stop it completely. So automatic and manual descaling is needed to preserve your machine and taste.
Should I not use a filter when descaling is necessary, even after using filtered water? The answer is simple; filtered water ensures the taste and aroma of your coffee.
What Can be the Options for Cleaning? Do I use a different Cleaner?
You may use different acids for cleaning as these acids can remove limescale buildup and fat residues.
I don’t recommend using these acids as they will not only break down magnesium and calcium but also gradually erode your machine’s metallic parts, especially those made up of aluminum.
Furthermore, the cleaning solution is formulated for removing the limescale only, so it doesn’t react with the parts of your espresso machine, while natural acids like vinegar react differently.
Back to what I was saying – most people use the following natural acids to descale their automatic espresso machine:
White vinegar is a natural cleaning agent that helps to remove mineral buildup, such as calcium and lime, that can accumulate inside the machine over time. The acidic nature of vinegar helps to break down the mineral deposits, making it an effective cleaning solution.
Citric acid is another natural cleaning agent that removes mineral buildup. It is more acidic than white vinegar, making it more effective in breaking down mineral deposits and removing stubborn coffee oils.
Surfactants are cleaning agents containing detergents that help dissolve and remove oils and fats. They effectively clean the interior surfaces of an espresso machine, including the brew group, portafilter, and nozzles.
It is important to note that each of these cleaning agents should only be used as directed, as overuse or misuse can damage the machine or affect the taste of the coffee.
It is also important to follow the manufacturer’s cleaning and maintenance instructions to ensure the machine’s proper care and longevity.
Commercial descaling solutions are specialized cleaning products that remove mineral buildup in espresso machines. They are formulated to effectively remove calcium, lime, and other mineral deposits that can accumulate in the machine over time.
As you already know that this buildup can affect the performance and efficiency of the machine, leading to poor-tasting coffee and clogged nozzles.
The best part of these Commercial descaling solutions is that they can be more convenient and effective than household cleaning agents like white vinegar or citric acid. They are typically easy to use and can be found in most specialty coffee shops or online.
It is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using commercial descaling solutions to ensure that the solution is used correctly and does not damage the machine.
Some descaling solutions are not recommended for use with certain materials, such as aluminum, so it is important to check the solution’s compatibility with your machine before use.
The above three cleaners are all cheap yet not recommended, while the last one is recommended but it’s a bit pricy.
Repeating Steps in Cleaning Automatic Espresso Machine
A moist Environment is a potential playground for the growth of bacteria, and the inside of an espresso machine is highly misty. There’s free-floating of steam, milk, and coffee, So chances of high growth of bacteria are obvious.
These bacteria are not only injurious to health but also make the taste sour. The following are the must-take steps at the end of the day for the proper functioning of your espresso machine:
All the steps as mentioned above steps as mentioned earlier are done at the end of the day. There are a few quick cleaning steps that you should take right after brewing your coffee.
For Espresso shot:
- Clean and dry basket and handles of portafilters
- Wipe Drip tray
- Clean the Brew unit with a brush like Pallo Coffee Tool to remove all coffee residues
- Flush the Brew group with hot water and let it dry
- Quickly clean the steam wand with a damp cloth, but this cloth should be clean and reserved for this purpose only
- Purge the milk residue from milk frothing or the wand’s exterior
- Clean the milk container and air dry afterward
For water using
- Rinse your water tank briefly and let it air dry to remove all impurities once
- Use filtered water to maintain the taste of coffee
Repeat all these steps thoroughly at the end of the day, once a week, and month, depending on how often you use your espresso machine.
The Four Steps of Cleaning
Empty the drip tray when the machine prompts you.
Wipe and dry the group bread and your espresso machine with a clean dump cloth.
Rinse all the components of the machine, i.e., drip tray, brew unit, milk frothing, portafilter, basket, milk container, and water tank, and let all these parts air dry for some time.
Cleaning the steam wand or milk nozzle is crucial to avoid the bitter taste of milk-based drinks. place an empty cup or glass under the wand or nozzle and press the start button. Stop the steaming after 3-5 seconds and wipe the nozzle or wand with a clean cloth.
How to clean automatic espresso machine? I’ve walked you through the whole process – Let me show you How to descale your machine?
Cleaning Vs Descaling
Let’s make it understandable what’s the main difference between cleaning and descaling.
Descaling and cleaning a coffee maker are two different maintenance tasks that are important to keep a coffee maker functioning properly.
Descaling refers to the process of removing mineral buildup from the inner workings of a coffee machine, such as the heating element and water tank. Mineral buildup can affect the performance and taste of the coffee, so regular descaling is important to maintain the quality of the coffee.
Cleaning, on the other hand, refers to the process of removing coffee oils and residue from the exterior surfaces of a coffee maker, such as the carafe, pot, and nozzle. Cleaning helps prevent buildup that can lead to bad-tasting coffee and can also help maintain the machine’s appearance.
Both descaling and cleaning are important to keep a coffee maker functioning properly and producing good-tasting coffee. Regular descaling can help prolong the machine’s life, while regular cleaning can help maintain its appearance.
Make sense? Now let’s move to the descaling.
How to Descale Your Automatic Espresso Machine?
Descaling is very important no matter how softer your water is. Furthermore, if you’re using filtered water in your automatic espresso machine, you still need to descale your coffee maker.
However, the Jura brand claims that after using its CLEARYL filter that works with RIFD technology which means it’s using Intelligent Water System(I.W.S), you do not need to descale the machine as it will do it by itself.
What is descaling? What is the difference between cleaning and descaling?
It’s a process of purging the limescale buildup from the automatic espresso machine by flushing the water mixed with any descaling solution or natural acids(Remember, acids aren’t recommended).
Are you thinking that Automatic Espresso machines have different types?
I’ve been there – No doubt there are different types of Automatic Espresso Machines, so the descaling process may vary. So read the user’s manual before descaling your machine.
Let’s Descale a super-automatic espresso machine:
- Mix your cleaning detergent in water, let it dissolve, and then pour it into the water tank.
- Next, start the machine and let the solution go through the boiler.
- Put a cup under the steam wand to hold the running water. Then close the steam knob so the solution can stay inside the machine for some time.
- Further, turn the machine off for 20 minutes and let the solution work.
- After 20 minutes, all limescale buildup would be removed and dissolved in water. Now open the steam knob, and the solution runs out of it.
Three simple steps for descaling your automatic espresso machine:
Fill the water tank with the descaling mixture.
Place a container under a spout or steam wand to catch the solution or water. And press the start button.
Empty the Container, and repeat the same process for rinsing thoroughly.
Now It’s time to Rinse and Rinse and Rinse!
Once the descaling solution runs out of the machine through the steam wand, fill the water tank with fresh tap water and start the rinsing cycle again.
Try to repeat this process multiple times until the color and taste of the water become original.
Boom– the descaling nightmare is over! Yeah, it’s that simple!
Now brew an espresso shot and enjoy!
Descaling your Espresso Machine
The following steps should be repeated 3 to 5 times for thorough rinsing:
- Start the machine, let it reach its potential pressure, and turn it off. Now let the machine fully drain by opening the hot water valve.
- Refill the water tank with fresh water and repeat the cycle by turning the machine on and off 3 to 5 times.
Bang! You’ve done – your espresso machine is fully descaled.
12 Tips for keeping your Automatic Espresso Machine Clean and Hygienic
Recommended Descaling Solutions
As I didn’t recommend using natural acids like Vinegar, Citric acid, Surfactants, lemon juice, or any other acid that can remove buildup, here is the list of recommended products for your espresso machine.
Durgol Swiss Espresso Special Decalcifier – A specially formulated solution for home-based espresso machines. You can check the price here.
Dezcal – You can use Dezcal for every type of machine, i.e., super-auto espresso, semi-auto, manual coffee machines, and single-boiler and double-boiler espresso machines.
Urnex Cleancaf – A mixture of detergent and descaler, Urnex Cleancaf is suitable for a home-based espresso machine.
Delonghi – If you’ve got a Delonghi espresso machine, you must have a Delonghi descaler.
Jura Detergent – If you want your Jura espresso machine to work for a long time, use Jura’s cleaning tablets.
Saeco – This descaler is formulated for the maintenance of Saeco espresso machines.
Final Thoughts on Descaling and Cleaning
I told you all the relevant information regarding the cleaning and descaling of the super-automatic and automatic espresso machines. If you’ve thoroughly read about How to clean your automatic espresso machine, you’ll be able to clean and descale your espresso machine at your home.
Now you know the hows and whys of deep cleaning and descaling automatic espresso machines. I’ll keep updating my cleaning guide about the automatic espresso machines.