Descaling an espresso machine

If you live in a hard water area it is a good idea to descale your espresso maker frequently as the build up can eventually cause a blockage and descaling becomes incredibly hard.

A scaled machine makes poor coffee as flow and pressure are affected and in bad cases the heating element is almost ineffective.

Using filtered water can help to minimize the limescale build up.

Bear in mind that most descalers take around 20 minutes to properly work.

How often should you descale an espresso machine?

Hard water areas with 6 uses per day should be done monthly.
Soft water areas with 6 uses per day – every 3-4 months.

Hard water areas with 12 uses per day should be done every 3 weeks.
Soft water areas with 12 uses per day – every 2-3 months.

Some espresso makers have a special descale program where they pulse water through at regular intervals to keep fresh descaler on the heating element. Ideally this will take a full reservoir of water and take the full 20 minutes.

If you do not have an automatic espresso descaler option you’ll have to do it manually.

Don’t run extract hot water from espresso maker continually for more than  a few minutes – most are designed for occasional use and you’ll burn them out if you are not careful.

The aim is short bursts over 20 minutes. Heat is not important for most descalers but do read the instructions, some require heat and a few will react violently if heat is used.

  1. Remove the portafilter so you can see what is going on more clearly. Ideally water will pour from the entire outlet but as machines silt up you’ll often end up with a single or double jet. This is a sign your machine needs descaling.
  2. Pulse a short extraction through the machine until it comes out of the portafilter feeder and then shut the machine off and allow it to cool for 4 minutes.
  3. Then pulse hot water through the machine for 2 minutes and wait for 4.
  4. Remember to include the steam wand in the hot water pulses every now and then for a few seconds.
  5. Turn off the machine and allow to cool for 4 minutes.
  6. Repeat steps 2-5 until the water is running clear and from the entire water outlet or for at least 20 minutes.
  7. Flush the machine with two full reservoirs of water, in short 2-3 minute bursts.

If your espresso maker has a hot water option it is better to use this than continually run short burst through the portafilter. Switch the machine from time to time to flow through the portafilter and steam want to fully descale the machine.


Your machine is now ready to use again.

It helps to run a shot of water through the portafilter after every days use so it isn’t sitting overnight with coffee residue which will harden. Some users do this after every use but Coffee Revolution do not think this is necessary, unless it will be left to sit for a while.