Breville is a popular high-quality espresso-machine brand designed to produce the perfect cup of coffee. I believe the Breville Bambino Plus is our readers’ favorite. When you descale a Breville espresso machine, you eliminate residual mineral deposits built up in espresso makers over time. These mineral deposits can make the coffee taste bad and clog your machine.
In this article, we’ll discover why you should descale your Breville espresso machine and how to do it, so it will last for years and continue producing great cups of coffee.
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Descaling your Breville espresso machine – What does this mean?
Before we discuss why you need to descale a Breville espresso machine, let’s first understand what descaling is. Simply put, the descaling process removes limescale from the internal areas of your espresso machine. Scale formation is expected if you use hard water, although it can also be formed in soft water.
What is the purpose of descaling an espresso machine?
There are many benefits of descaling your espresso machine. The first is that it will improve the taste of the coffee, which is one of the main reasons people purchase a Breville espresso machine in the first place.
Descaling your espresso maker will also unclog the machine pipes. It means it will not only let you enjoy a perfect-tasting espresso every time. It will also extend your machine’s lifespan.
In short: If you want your espresso machine to work well for years, you must get used to descaling it regularly. Any accumulation of minerals in the internal area of your espresso machine will create problems over time.
How to descale a Breville espresso machine?
- Use the descaler that comes with your Breville espresso machine. It will ensure your descale solution is not too weak or too strong for your device. To prepare the descaling solution, follow the descaler instruction and mix the descaler with the proper amount of water. For the descaler we got with our machine, we used 34oz of water.
- Empty the water reservoir, and fill it with your descaling solution.
- Set your Breville espresso machine to Descaling mode. The process may be different for different Breville models. If you own a Breville Barista Express, you can do it as follows:
- Ensure your Breville machine is off.
- Press and hold the 2-cup button while simultaneously pressing and holding the power button.
- The power button will start flashing until the machine is ready for the descaling process to begin.
- Put an empty container under the water and steam wand unit. This container is where the used descaling solution goes.
- Press the coffee button to initiate the descaling process. This button may be different for different Breville espresso machine models. On my Breville Barista Express, it is the 1-cup coffee button.
- Let the descaling process work (about 30 seconds). If you have a Barista Express, the button will flash during the process and stop flashing when it’s done.
- To descale the steam wand, put the wand’s tip into the container with the scaling solution and turn the steam on for another 30 seconds. Repeat with the hot water option of the steam wand.
- Repeat steps 5-7. Your Breville espresso machine, including the coffee and milk pipes, is descaled at this point. Now we need to clean it from the descaling solution.
- Empty the water reservoir and rinse it well. Fill it with clean water to the maximum level. Repeat steps 5-7 with clean water. I usually repeat this part twice (each time with clean water) to ensure there’s no descaling solution aftertaste.
Descaling an espresso machine with vinegar
If you don’t have the official Breville descaler, you can use vinegar and water instead.
The only problem with vinegar is that you can’t tell the perfect vinegar to water ratio for your machine. The risk is making a descaling solution that is either too weak or too concentrated for your Breville.
If you’re willing to “risk it” (I usually do when it comes to descaling), mix 1 part vinegar with three parts water. For example, if your espresso machine has a 66oz water tank, use 22oz of white vinegar and 44oz of water.
How often should you descale your Breville espresso machine?
A good rule of thumb is to descale your Breville espresso machine every two months. Still, it depends on the water hardness and how often you use your espresso maker.
Some Breville espresso machine models have a designated warning light that goes on whenever descaling is required.
What happens if you don’t descale an espresso maker?
If you don’t descale your espresso machine regularly, you might notice that it produces low-quality espresso. It can get clogged and eventually break down completely.
Espresso machine regular maintenance
Descaling is a process you should run every once in a while – but what about the regular maintenance? Periodic cleaning plays a significant role in ensuring that your machine stays in good shape for longer. It also provides that it produces quality coffee with good taste.
- Drip tray cleaning – Empty the drip tray into the garbage every day. This exercise takes a few seconds, but it goes a long way to eliminating the accumulation of dirt and grime over time.
- Steam wand – The steam wand is another area that can accumulate milk residues quickly. After using the steamer, turn it on for a few seconds. Once the steam-wand cools off, use a soft cloth to wipe the outer part thoroughly.
- Filter basket – Another area of everyday maintenance you need to work on is having the filter basket cleared. Take away leftover grounds and make sure you wash using soap and water.
- Group head – Cleaning the group head. Clean the group head with water to get rid of coffee residue. Ensure that the water from the machine is clear, indicating that cleaning is taking place.
- Filter holes – Clean the filter holes using the pin tool. Take note that this may take a significant amount of your time; however, try to be patient. Once the filter holes are clean and you get rid of old coffee, you’ll notice a massive difference in terms of your espresso’s taste.
- Replace the water filter – Change the water filter. You need to change the filter of your Breville espresso machine. If you haven’t changed the filter in 2 months, it’s about time you did so. The thing with old filters is that they aren’t effective at all. They attract bacteria, which isn’t good for your machine. Anything that can make your coffee taste bad isn’t good for your coffee maker machine. So make sure you replace the filter if need be.
- Coffee grinder – Clean the attached grinder. Use a brush to clean the burrs as you remove old grounds and dust.
- Built-in cleaning process – Using the cleaning disk and tablets, run the built-in cleaning system of your machine. This straightforward process doesn’t take much time. After the cleaning cycle, initiate another cycle using only water to remove any remaining solution in the machine. If you fail to do this, you may notice an abnormal taste in the next brew.
More tips for preventing bad-tasting coffee
Other than your periodic descaling process, there are other things you can do to ensure your coffee tastes good. Here are some tips you can follow to prevent bad-tasting coffee.
Keep your equipment clean.
Make sure you clean your espresso maker regularly to avoid bad-tasting coffee. Daily maintenance is vital to keep everything clean for your next brew. Apart from the daily maintenance practices, you should maintain a habit of deep-cleaning and descaling your Breville espresso machine when needed (at least every 1-2 months).
Use the proper water clarity and temperature.
If you prepare coffee without paying attention to the water clarity and temperature you use, you may run the risk of bad-tasting coffee. The best choice of water for making coffee is filtered water. Unfiltered water is not a good choice, and distilled water can be a problem since it doesn’t have mineral content.
Also, the temperature of the water is crucial when avoiding nasty tastes. Generally, the correct temperature should be around 195 F and 205 F. Cases of bitter taste in coffee result from using cool water. So, check the water’s temperature to make coffee with a high-quality taste and flavor.
Use fresh coffee beans.
Did you know that using old coffee beans may be the reason behind the bad taste in your coffee? Especially if you’re used to the taste of new coffee beans, you’ll feel something is off if you use stale ones. Store your coffee beans correctly, away from heat, air, or direct sunlight, to keep coffee beans fresh for longer and prevent bad-tasting coffee. Alternatively, buy fresh coffee beans as you make your coffee.
Use the correct water-to-coffee ratio.
The ratio of water to coffee is essential when you’re preparing coffee. If you ask expert baristas, they’ll tell you that there are ratios that can lead to bitter-tasting coffee. If you use too much coffee, you’ll have a bitter taste, ruining your drink. So, as you prepare your cup of coffee, ensure that the water to coffee ratio is the right one.
How to descale Breville espresso machine – Final thoughts
The descaling process eliminates residual mineral deposits built up in espresso machines over time. To ensure better tasting espresso and that your Breville espresso maker stays in tip-top shape, make sure to descale it regularly.
The best way to descale your Breville espresso machine is to use the original descaler bag that came with your espresso maker. Alternatively, you can make a homemade descaling solution using water and white vinegar.
Undoubtedly, regular maintenance and descaling your espresso maker when needed is a practice you can’t afford to ignore. Indeed, it’s a straightforward procedure that’s genuinely worth it. A Breville espresso machine will require around 30 seconds (about 10 minutes for the whole process).
For more info, check out Breville’s official website.