A big part of making consistently great coffee is maintaining your equipment. That means regularly cleaning it and occasionally performing a deeper clean. Old coffee grounds and natural oils from coffee can build up over time, but even just running tap water through your machine is enough to require more involved cleaning.
The reason is that drinking water is not 100% water – despite what you might think – and can leave a residue in your machine called scale. Too much scale build-up can affect the flavor of your coffee and, in severe cases, clog your machine and prevent it from running properly. In this guide, we’re going to show you how to quickly and easily remove scale with a simple descaling procedure.
What is Scale?
Scale is a build-up of minerals on a surface when mineral water evaporates and leaves the heavy minerals behind. All water has minerals – mostly calcium and lime – and even using a filter won’t entirely remove them. Mineral water can enhance some coffee flavors, so using 100% pure water is not the best solution to prevent scale build-up. The best way to remove scale is by performing a descaling every so often.
Before You Start
Before you descale your machine, you need two things: your owner’s manual and a descaling solution. Descaling solution is a mixture of chemicals designed to remove scale efficiently.
Nespresso machines have a descaling mode designed to remove scale quickly and efficiently. How you access the descaling mode differs between models, so you will need your owner’s manual to learn how to turn on your specific machine’s descaling mode.
Descale Mode Cheat Sheet
Some Nespresso models – like the Lattissima and some De’Longhis – come with a descaling pipe. The descaling process for these machines is more involved, so refer to your owner’s manual for guidance.
Okay, let’s get started!
How to Descale Nespresso Machines:
1. Prep your machine.
Remove any capsules you have in your machine and the capsule holder.
2. Add water and descaling solution to the reservoir.
Fill the water reservoir a little more than halfway – approximately 4-cups – with warm water. Make sure to leave some room at the top for the descaling solution.
3. Put a container under the brew head.
Put a cup or other container under the nozzle. Don’t forget this step unless you want descaling solution all over your counter!
4. Run the descaling mode.
This is where you need your owner’s manual. Find the section on descaling and read the instructions for how to access descaling mode. Turn your machine on and enter descaling mode. The descaling solution will run through the machine, so double-check step 3.
5. Repeat and rinse.
Once the water has run through, Nespresso recommends that you re-run the solution through your machine several times. We also like to run water through a few times to ensure all of the descaling fluid has been rinsed out. If you don’t, the first few cups of coffee you make might have a funny taste.
6. Exit descaling mode.
Once you’re done rinsing, don’t forget to exit descaling mode. Exiting descaling mode is usually the same button combination as entering it.
That’s it! Descaling your Nespresso machine is not difficult and can increase your coffee’s quality and lengthen your machine’s lifespan. The official Nespresso guidelines suggest descaling your machine every 300 days. That is close enough to once a year for us, so we like to pick a meaningful date – like a birthday or holiday – and descale our machine on that day. Another fun option is to descale on September 29th, which is international coffee day!
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