If espresso machines had a kryptonite, it would be scale build-up. This silent killer will degrade your machine’s performance over time — inhibiting steam performance, disabling valve functionality so that leaking begins and, eventually, contributing to boiler burn out. Your options in battling it are to use a filtration system, softener or a combination thereof … or to just plan on regularly descaling the machine.
One descaling solution on the market is the liquid formula produced by Durgol. Available in two different formats — one for coffee makers and one for espresso machines — these are very effective and easy to use solutions. Watch as Gail talks to us about their formulation and then demonstrates how to use it on the Saeco Aroma.
Given that she had to coerce us into cleaning our bedroom by rather surreptitiously hiding small change in the corners (and encouraging us to ‘find what the fairies left!’), our mother would be quite relieved to know of our passion for cleanliness in adulthood! And while you won’t find nickels and dimes in the brew head or the water tank — at least, you shouldn’t — Breville’s maintenance supplies make it easy and almost as fun to keep your espresso machine clean.
She then discusses their charcoal/resin filters, shows how to install them and explains why they’re necessary — especially with the Dual Boiler.
If this is the first time you’re hearing about descaling your espresso equipment, we haven’t been doing our job! We’re devotees to excellent maintenance, and regularly descaling your machine will maintain its performance and extend its overall life.
Heat exchange machines need to be descaled a bit differently than single boiler or thermoblock models, so we asked Gail to show us how it’s done in this updated version of our instructional video. Watch as she walks us through the process and then demonstrates it on a Rocket Espresso Giotto Evoluzione, using Dezcal.
Show your DeLonghi superautomatic espresso machine how deeply you care for it by … well, caring for it! Their recently introduced Coffee Care Kit gives you all the goodies you need, specially formulated for your DeLonghi machine.
Watch Gail take us through what’s included in the kit.
A common inquiry we receive is in regard to the type of water customers should use in their coffee making equipment. Some folks think that distilled water will be their best bet, as they won’t have to worry about scale build up or performing descaling procedures for the life of the machine. While there seems to be as many supporters as there are detractors regarding whether or not it’s healthy for the human body, we do know that distilled water is not healthy for your machine. Seriously!
First up, let’s talk about your equipment. Putting water that has a lack of ions or mineral content through equipment that is basically composed of minerals (stainless steel, copper, nickel, brass, etc.) means the water will take that opportunity to take on ions from the surrounding space, contributing to a slow breakdown of those materials. It will essentially leach minerals out of the metal components and degrade the machine’s performance over time. Additionally, there are several models of machines on the market (such as the Rockets) that use a minor electrical charge to determine if there is water in the reservoir. If there aren’t enough minerals in the water to conduct that charge, the machine’s sensor will report that the reservoir is empty.
Now, let’s talk about the coffee. The Specialty Coffee Association of America performed extensive testing and found that the ideal mineral balance is 150 parts per million (ppm). Coffee produced with water that contains this level of hardness is better balanced and a smoother cup. A lower mineral content allows for too much available space, often resulting in an overextraction and a bitter flavor. Conversely, water with a higher mineral content won’t have enough available space, so coffee will be underextracted and possibly more sour. As distilled water has hardly any mineral content (roughly 9ppm), using it for coffee preparation will result in a bitter cup.
We often say that you should use water that you like to drink to make your coffee — after all, coffee is over 98% water. Another option is to use softened water, which encapsulates the minerals, maintaining their structure within the water while prohibiting their ability to adhere to internal components. This can give you the best of both worlds: A smooth and balanced cup of coffee while also reducing the overall maintenance for the life of the machine.
Keep your Saeco superautomatic squeaky clean and well cared for with Saeco’s new upgraded maintenance kit. It now includes Intenza filters, Saeco-branded liquid descaling solution, brew group lubricant and a cleaning kit that includes O-ring replacements for your brew group.
Watch as Gail walks us through all of the lovely goodies included in this kit. Joy!
So you’ve finally pulled together the courage to add up how much you’ve been spending on all those lattes, macchiatos and cappuccinos you’ve consumed at your local cafe everyday. After looking at the grand total you think, ‘Wow, I could’ve set up my own espresso shop!’
When considering their purchase, folks often think about the kind of coffee they want to make and how easy it will be to use — generally, how much work they’re willing to do to craft their favorite drink every day. They also consider the initial monetary investment when purchasing the machine, but we rarely have folks thinking about the overall care and feeding of their new gear: How much work will it take to maintain and keep these machines running well? What kind of life expectancy might a specific machine have? Are there any known issues they should be aware of and prepare for?
To answer these questions, we’ve delved into the tech nitty gritty: From entry-level single boilers to high end ‘prosumer’ semi-automatics to mini caffeine robots (also known as superautomatics), we’ve got the 411 on the general longevity, maintenance and care of different machines. We couldn’t hit all of them, of course, but hopefully there’s enough info here to help you while considering which machine is right for you.
Filtering your water is essential if you plan on plumbing in your espresso machine to a direct water line in your location. Without this, you run the risk of scale build-up that can only be removed by a professional taking apart the machine and physically removing the scale. How quickly this occurs will depend on your location — we did have a cafe attempt to go without filtration for just a couple of months and their equipment completely seized up as a result. Clearly, they were working with very hard water, but it’s not a risk we recommend you take, at all.
For commercial locations, there are tons of filtration options that will address a wide variety of water source needs. If you’re looking at that kind of a setup, then you’ll need to install something a bit more sophisticated and robust that will be able to address the multiple appliances that will require water (such as drip coffee makers, ice machines, water fountains and your espresso machine) in a way that’s easy to manage. But for just straight espresso machine filtration, the Mavea Purity C filters are simple, easy to install and do an excellent job of filtering out what you don’t want in your espresso machine’s boiler.
Watch Gail as she walks us through an overview of how she installed a Mavea filter on our La Marzocco Linea.
When is it time to say when? We’re often asked where the portafilter should be in respect to the machine — at a 90 degree angle? 45 degree? A little over to the right? Every machine will be a little bit different and the key is to make sure that it feels snug. Additionally, you’ll find that you’ll move it further as the gasket ages.
Watch as Gail demonstrates the position on several of our demo machines of varying style and age.
Cleanliness is next to godliness — or so we’ve read, anyway. But even heathens should remain committed to a tidy espresso machine because roughly 80% of the machines we repair come to us due to lack of regular maintenance.
In this episode of Keep it Clean(tm), Gail walks us through the regular maintenance and care tips for the Saeco Xelsis one touch superautomatic.