Descaling the coffee machine - everything you need to know

Written by: Smilla H.



Time to read 6 min

In this article we dedicate ourselves to the topic of lime. What is important when descaling the coffee machine? How do I avoid limescale in my coffee machine? And most importantly: What is the best way to get them descaled again?

Why you have to descale your coffee machine

Lime scale is actually an issue with all equipment that comes into contact with water. That ranges from your shower head, to the kettle and ultimately to your coffee machine.

One important thing to start with. If you live in a hard water area, a water filter is almost essential. This is especially true in big cities like Hamburg, Berlin and Co. With filter jugs or products that you put in the water tank of the machine, you save yourself many a descaling cycle. Nevertheless, it has to be said here that limescale can still build up in your machine after a long time. You should still descale the coffee machine. Limescale deposits form more quickly on devices that heat water than on a shower head or faucet.

You can see that lime quickly becomes a problem on the bottom of your kettle. A white film forms on the floor during the first pass. With your coffee machine, this process takes much longer, but it still happens at some point. With every brewing process, a very fine layer is always deposited on the hoses and metal. In addition, due to their construction, coffee machines are much more unpleasant to clean and repair than the common kettle.

So why is it important to descale your coffee maker? There are a number of reasons for this. Let's go through the three most important. The order goes from “still okay” to “catastrophe”.

Reason number 1: Your coffee no longer tastes as good

You can still get over it, but it's still not nice. After all, you bought the machine to drink delicious coffee every day. Over time, however, the limescale deposits ensure that your coffee no longer tastes right. So if you don't want any chalky notes in your coffee, you should descale your coffee machine from time to time.

Reason number 2: clogged lines

The reason your coffee no longer tastes good is often because the layer of limescale in the lines and hoses of your machine is getting thicker and thicker. In the worst case, this can lead to them becoming completely clogged or porous. Then the machine has to be repaired and the affected parts have to be replaced. This is not only annoying, but also costs money and nerves.

Reason number 3: Limescale deposits on important elements

From here it gets really uncomfortable. If lime builds up on sensors, boilers and the like, your machine can suffer considerable damage. Simply changing the hose is no longer enough here. In the absolute worst case, you might need a new machine.

Descaling the coffee machine for a moment doesn't sound that annoying in comparison, does it? Unfortunately, it is not possible to say in general how often you have to descale your machine. It depends on the water hardness and the filter you use. However, fully automatic machines often speak up and actively demand descaling. The manufacturer of the Moccamaster recommends descaling the coffee machine after 100 brewing processes. As a rule of thumb, you can aim for periods between 3 and 6 months.

But now let's get down to business. What is the best way to descale your coffee machine? Can you descale the coffee machine with vinegar and citric acid? Are original products really necessary? We'll clarify all that now.

Do I have to use the manufacturer's original product to descale my coffee maker?

Direct and clear no. Although you are not wrong with the original products, you often pay extra here. Third-party branded products almost always work just as well as branded products. Often one reads phrases like "just use...". I can reassure you here. Your machine will almost certainly tolerate no-name products.

However, you should still be careful when choosing the right descaler. There are two things to note here.

Number 1: tablet, liquid or powder - which is suitable for your machine?

Here you can actually consult the manufacturer's manual. Although you do not necessarily have to buy the recommended branded product, you can see here what form your descaler should have. Due to the different construction of the machines, it may be that your machine likes powder or no tablets. This can result in residues not being properly rinsed out. Therefore, if the manufacturer recommends a certain variant, you should also use it.

Number 2: What home remedies are there to descale the coffee machine?

In some articles and forums you often read about pure citric acid or household vinegar. Clear recommendation here: better keep your hands off it. It's not worth experimenting here, since you hardly save any money here. After all, you don't decalcify your coffee machine every week. In the worst case, household remedies that are too aggressive attack the hoses of your machine. At the latest then the austerity measure becomes a money trap. It can also happen here from time to time that you have taste residues in your next espresso. So: it's better to use a real descaler.

How do I descale my coffee maker?

Small disillusionment: there are only limited rules of thumb here. How you have to dilute the descaler and how many passes it takes varies from machine to machine. Especially when rinsing, you should follow the manufacturer's instructions. Otherwise descaler may remain in your machine. This will then end up in your cup for the next few coffees. Rather ugly.

For notorious manual losers, here are some of the most common mixing ratios:

Liquid descaler: mixing ratio 1 to 4 or 125 ml descaler to 500 ml water

Tablets: Usually one per 500 ml of water

Powder: Around 15 grams per 500 ml of water

Nevertheless, please pay attention to the information provided by the manufacturer. The bottles and packages usually contain guideline values ​​for the product.

When rinsing, fully automatic machines usually tell you how many cycles they need. With machines like the Moccamaster, it is advisable to let clear water run through two full loads. With fully automatic machines you should also obtain 1 or 2 coffees and throw them away.

Bonus tip: You can find detailed descaling instructions online for most coffee machines and fully automatic machines. So don't worry if you lost track of the instructions!

All in all, you should descale your coffee machine regularly, despite the filter. Just put a reminder in your calendar so you won't forget it.

FAQ Descale the coffee machine

Why should I descale my coffee maker?

Limescale deposits in your coffee machine not only affect the taste, but can also lead to serious damage.

What role does hard water play in limescale build-up?

Water filters are particularly recommended in areas with particularly hard water and can reduce limescale deposits.

How often should I descale my coffee maker?

The frequency of descaling depends on the water hardness and the filter type. As a rule of thumb, you should descale every 3 to 6 months. Fully automatic machines often give descaling instructions themselves.

Why does my coffee machine become calcified faster than other kitchen appliances?

Due to their construction, coffee machines can be more prone to limescale deposits than other devices.

Can I use no-name descaler or should I choose the original product from the manufacturer?

You can easily use no-name descaler. They are often just as effective as branded products but cost less. Pay attention to the right form of descaler for your machine.

Use citric acid to descale my coffee maker?

Can I use home remedies like vinegar or Avoid using vinegar or citric acid. These home remedies can damage your machine and leave flavor residues in the coffee.

How do I properly descale my coffee machine?

Dilute the descaler according to the manufacturer's instructions and rinse thoroughly. The mixing ratios vary depending on the descaler type. For fully automatic machines, follow the manufacturer's instructions.

Are there specific descaling instructions for different coffee machine models?

Yes, many manufacturers offer online specific descaling instructions for their models. Search for your model and find detailed instructions.

What is the difference between a thermoblock and a boiler?

A thermoblock heats the water through a pipe while a boiler heats the water in a cauldron. Each technique has an impact on temperature stability and brewing time.