Why Do Coffee Machines Need Descaling?

Why Do Coffee Machines Need Descaling?

Owning a coffee machine is a luxury not afforded to everyone, especially not the type of coffee machine that requires descaling. See, your basic coffee machines, like filter coffee machines, do not require descaling.

Easiest way to determine if your beloved machine is going to need that extra bit of care? Answer this question: does your coffee machine have an immovable part that hot water is pressurised through? If that’s a yes – chances are high that your machine is going to need to be de-scaled at some or other point in it’s life.

Why is this the case? Well, if you don’t use purified water (read: NOT Mineral water, which will build up deposits, NOT tap water – for obvious reasons and also NOT filtered water (filtered water has only had the large, damaging particles removed) – then your machine is going to build up what’s commonly known as lime scale.

In short, lime scale is a hard white substance consisting of calcium carbonate, deposited by water on the inside of pipes. It’s a hard substance that builds up over time. Some old-wives-tales say that if you add marbles to a kettle and boil it, this removes the lime scale. Before we go any further, I need to tell you this is not true. Yes, the hard knocks of the marbles will remove some larger chunks of lime scale, but it will also damage the elements inside your kettle and will not hygienically and fully remove the lime scale build-up.

The correct way to do it depends on machine type. Remember that if you use purified water, you will likely not have to perform this cleansing – just check for any physical build-up of visible lime scale.

How To Descale A Capsule Coffee Machine

Sadly, because a capsule coffee machine has most of it’s working components neatly tucked inside the machine, you will not see the build up starting. Find yourself a compatible capsule that contains descaling agent – these will be clearly marked. If your machine provider does not make these, perform a quick DIY cleansing. Add about 200ml of white spirit vinegar to your water tank, and allow it to run through your machine the same way you would to brew a cup of coffee. Do this about 10 times, making sure the water runs clear before you finish off. Replace the vinegar-infused water with plain water and rinse another 5 – 10 times, to ensure any trace of vinegar is removed from your coffee machine.

How To Descale An Automatic / Bean to Cup Coffee Machine

Because these types of coffee machines will always be more pricey than other types – you need to perform a regular descaling of the machine with either a tablet – which is normally added to the over-ride doser area (the little hole close to your bean hopper where you can add pre-ground coffee) or a descaling liquid. The application area for the descaling liquid varies from machine to machine – some require adding it to your water tank and allowing it to run through your machine (much the same way as you would with the vinegar trick) and others require you to add it to the same override doser you would for a cleaning tablet. Always check online for the specific instructions for your coffee machine model.

When it comes to filter coffee machines and really any other type of machine, regular cleaning of the movable components means you don’t allow for the build-up of lime scale. However, if you do encounter this problem – refer back to the trick of adding white spirit vinegar and rinsing thoroughly.

Remember – maintaining your coffee machine and using the right water will ensure a consistency of flavour and quality bar none.