How to Descale an Espresso Machine in 9 Easy Steps

by Eric Wright on December 03, 2021

If you're like me, your favorite time of day is morning when it's just cool enough for a cup o' joe while browsing Facebook and catching up on some sleep. And if you're even more like me, your favorite part about waiting for the coffee to brew is hearing the steamy water rush through all those tubes. You know what I'm talking about - that "whoosh" sound. Thanks to our espresso machine!

Espresso machines are a staple in the kitchen of most coffee lovers. They're not just for show. Rather, they provide a way to have great-tasting coffee every day because espresso makers use pressure and steam to extract flavor from ground beans faster than regular drip coffee makers can.

And if you’re more and more like me, you want the best tasting coffee. But if we want our drinks to taste better than ever before, there is a certain step that needs taking care of - espresso machine descaling!

It's important to take care of your machine so that you don't end up with burnt or under-extracted flavors. One way to do this is by descaling your machine regularly. You should descale your machine about once or twice a year, depending on how often you use it.

Descaling? What a word!

Descaling is the process of removing calcium and mineral buildup that can cause problems with your machine's heating element which may lead to premature replacement or decreased functionality.

Scratching your head wondering why you should descale on a regular basis?

Unfortunately, espresso machines are not immune to the buildup of calcium and mineral deposits. These can cause problems with your machine's heating element which may lead to premature replacement or decreased functionality in other parts of the machine due to calcium buildup.

If you fail to descale your espresso machine, the taste of the coffee will be compromised. When you notice that your coffee tastes bitter or has a metallic flavor, it is likely due to these minerals. When calcium builds up in the machine's water tank and power boiler, that is the result. This is why it's important to descale your machine.

Descaling is a simple process

The process of descaling an espresso machine is not difficult, but it does require some patience. If you own a manual machine, it's as simple as filling a jug up with a descaling solution, following the instructions on the container, and then slowly pouring the liquid down into your machine.

For automatic machines, you'll need to select an appropriate program, push the coffee button to start brewing, and then slowly pour the liquid down into your machine once it has finished brewing.

In order to determine when it's time for you to descale your espresso machine, look at how often you use it. If you tend to make a couple of cups of coffee each week, you can go longer between descaling. If, on the other hand, you use your machine more frequently, it's a good idea to descale every month or so.

There are a lot of descaling products out there, but if you want to be really thorough with your cleaning and remove minerals from your espresso machine for good, then vinegar is your best bet.

Boo! Supplies!

To descale your espresso machine using vinegar, you’ll need to get these supplies:

  • White vinegar as the main cleaning solution
  • Toothbrush or similarly shaped brush for reaching hard-to-reach corners of the machine
  • Cold and hot distilled water to rinse the solution
  • Small bucket to catch the residue

Descaling your espresso machine is as easy as 1-2-3

Here are the steps:

  1. Though it might sound strange at first, put about 4 tablespoons of vinegar in your tank and run it for a few minutes. It should turn somewhat milky white. This means that it is working to remove the residue from your machine's lines and internal parts.
  2. Once you've done this, shut the machine off and let it sit for about 15-20 minutes with a little vinegar at the bottom.
  3. When that time has passed, pour out all of the vinegar. Some people will leave it in until they're ready to brew a shot, but this isn't necessary to do and also eliminates your machine's ability to steam hot water if you were planning on doing that.
  4. Once the vinegar is out of the tank, fill it up with cold water and run the machine again until the tank is empty.
  5. Turn your machine off and remove the brew head - the part that holds the filter holder and espresso grounds.
  6. Take a small brush or toothbrush and use it to scrub all of the residues from inside of your machine's lines.
  7. Rinse this out thoroughly with hot water at least twice.
  8. Fill the tank back up with more water.
  9. Run it through one last time.

Once these steps are done, you're ready to descale your machine again in another year, depending on how often you use it.

Ready for Another Cup o' Joe?

Let’s face it. You deserve the best tasting coffee and your espresso machine deserves to be preserved for as long as possible, too! If you want both of those things, then descaling needs to happen on a regular basis. It’s easy, quick, and painless. All that's needed is a little patience and some household supplies.

So what are you waiting for? Go grab some water, vinegar and a brush right now and get started!

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