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How to Descale Breville Coffee Makers (Simple Steps & Alternatives)

breville barista express up close

Even if you keep your coffee maker clean, you might still run into clogging issues in the long run. It can be frustrating to clean your machine after each use, take time each month to perform a deeper clean, and still wind up with water flow issues and bad-tasting coffee. If you’ve experienced this before, it might be a sign that you need to descale your coffee maker.

In this article, we’re going to teach you how to descale your Breville coffee maker. First, we will cover how to tell if you need to descale your machine before giving you step-by-step instructions for how to do it. Even though it sounds intimidating, it’s an easy process that won’t take more than 30 minutes and could make a significant improvement to your coffee’s quality.

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How to Tell if You Need to Descale Your Coffee Maker

If you regularly clean your coffee maker but still notice water flow issues, hard water could be the culprit. Water that contains a high concentration of minerals—mostly calcium and magnesium—is called hard water. You can test your water with a pool or spa test or a hard water test kit, but the easiest way to tell if you live in an area with hard water is to check the drains in your tub and sink. If you get a white residue around the drains, it is a good indication that you have hard water.

Hard water isn’t dangerous to drink, but it can cause clogs in coffee machines and needs special attention to remove. Regular cleaning with coffee maker cleaning tablets or using soap and water on removable parts won’t work. To remove these mineral deposits, you need to descale your machine.

breville espresso machine

Dialing In Breville Barista Express coffee maker
5 stars from 2 votes

How to Descale Breville Espresso Machines

Before you can descale your Breville, you'll either need to pick up some descaling solution or vinegar. Homemade descaling solution made from one part vinegar and one part water works well and can save you some money, but opting for a premade descaling solution is fine as well. The key is to use something acidic since calcium and magnesium deposits are basic.
Prep Time5 minutes
Active Time3 minutes
Cycle Time20 minutes
Total Time28 minutes
Keyword: breville espresso machine, how to descale breville espresso machines
Cost: $3


  • Breville espresso machine


  • White vinegar or descaling solution
  • Water


  • Mix one part vinegar with one part water in a large enough amount to fill your coffee maker's water reservoir.
  • Fill the reservoir with the vinegar-water solution (or descaling solution if you prefer).
  • Run several brew cycles until you use all of the vinegar solution.
  • Refill the water reservoir with water.
  • Run 4-5 brewing cycles using only water. This step is crucial if you want your coffee to taste normal during your next brew. Drinking the descaling solution isn't dangerous but doesn't taste good, so don't skimp on this step.


Image Credit: Angela CoffeeRank, Flickr CC 2.0 Generic

Alternatives to Vinegar for Homemade Descaling Solutions

If you prefer not to use vinegar, you have a few other options. The second most popular choice after vinegar is citric acid. Importantly, citric acid is, well, acidic, so it does a good job of breaking down mineral deposits. Use one tablespoon of citric acid pellets in one gallon of water to get the right strength, and then use the solution the same way you would use the vinegar solution in the steps outlined above.

One of the best aspects of using citric acid instead of vinegar is the aftertaste is much less intrusive. We still recommend rinsing the machine thoroughly with 3-5 brew cycles even if you opt for citric acid over vinegar, but if some gets left behind, it will have less of an impact on your coffee’s taste.

A third option if neither vinegar nor citric acid floats your boat is lemon juice, which contains high concentrations of citric acid. The right strength to shoot for with lemon juice is one part lemon juice to two parts water. Lemon juice is the best option if you’re worried about lingering taste and is more accessible than citric acid, but we find it to be the least effective option in terms of actual descaling abilities.

If you rinse your Breville carefully after descaling it, you shouldn’t have any trouble with aftertastes, so we recommend using vinegar or premade descaling solution since they work the best. In a pinch, you can get away with using lemon juice or citric acid; just know that they won’t be as effective.

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Descaling your Breville coffee maker is a straightforward process and shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes from start to finish. We recommend using vinegar to save money and effectively remove mineral deposits, but you can choose to purchase a descaling solution if you prefer. Lemon juice also works decently and comes with the benefit of a pleasant aftertaste that won’t ruin your coffee if some is leftover in the machine after rinsing.

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Featured Image Credit: ün LIU, Unsplash


Sean Brennan

Sean’s obsession with coffee started when he received his first French press as a gift almost ten years ago. Since then, his love of coffee – and the number of coffee gadgets he owns – has grown considerably. A scientist by training, there is no stone he has left unturned in the never-ending quest for the perfect cup of coffee. He has spent many hours tuning his pour-over technique, thinking about how to best compare grind quality, and worrying about whether the Nicaraguan or Kenyan beans will make the best cold brew. These days he favors the Hario V60, and starts each day by hand grinding his coffee before enjoying a cup prepared with care and attention to detail.

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