Why cleaning your coffee machine is important
Have you ever looked inside your kettle and noticed a lot of white, chalky limescale lurking around the bottom? In many parts of the UK, our water is very hard. The natural chemicals found in our water (calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate) form limescale when it is heated above 61 degrees. This leaves a layer of limescale at the bottom of the kettle and over time needs descaling.
WHY IS LIMESCALE BAD FOR MY COFFEE MACHINE?
The same process can happen in your coffee machine. Over time, scale can build up and this can sometimes block the pipes and as a result, reduce the pressure of water flowing through the machine. This may reduce the lifespan of the machine.
HOW DOES LIMESCALE AFFECT THE TASTE OF MY COFFEE?
Coffee machines are designed to have just the right amount of water pressure to give you a perfect espresso extraction (usually 9 bar of pressure). If the machine has lot’s of limescale and the pressure flow is reduced to below 9 bar, the espresso extraction could be very slow and result in a poor extraction (flow of espresso).
Not only this, but the taste of water will be hugely impacted if it is full of scale, resulting in result in a poor tasting espresso (since espresso is made up of coffee and water).
WHAT DOES THE WATER TASTE LIKE WHEN THERE IS LIMESCALE?
Have you ever drank a glass of water that as been sitting on the side for a few days? It tastes stale and old right? Well this is the best way to describe how a coffee machine full of scale build up will affect the taste of your espresso.
Whenever a coffee is tasting bad, it’s easy to assume its all down the coffee beans. However, this isn’t always the case and it could be down the water being used in the coffee machine, along with a variety of other reasons.
HOW DO I CLEAN MY COFFEE MACHINE?
Every coffee machine is different and requires a different cleaning process.
A traditional espresso machine requires a regular descale which draws water from the water tank and through the pipes in the machine. It also requires back flushing the brew heads with cleaning powder to clean the pipes where the coffee is extracted. Using a brush (which looks oddly similar to a toothbrush) is a good way to clean the inside of the brew head and remove any coffee or oil residue.
As good practise, you should always purge water through the brew head after every use to wash away any coffee and keep it clean.
However, a pod machine and filter machine require a different cleaning method.
We recommend looking up the manufacturer instructions for your coffee machine which should have a cleaning guide with instructions. Most coffee machines will require regular cleaning to pro-long the life of the machine.
HOW CAN I PREVENT MY COFFEE MACHINE FROM LIMESCALE BUILD-UP?
If your coffee machine allows you to have a water filter then we recommend using this and making sure you change it regularly (follow manufacturer instructions on the frequency of changing the filter). Sage coffee machines for example, recommend changing the filter every three months. However, if you rarely use the machine then this can be less frequent.
Some coffee machines do not have water filters i.e. pod machines. We recommend using filtered water to fill the water tank, particularly if you live in an area with hard water. This action will simply prevent scale build up and prolong the life of your machine.
Prevention is better than cure we say!
If you need any help or advice with your machine then feel free to get in touch. We support our customers with all aspects of coffee; from recommending the perfect coffee blends, tweaking machine settings, training and support.