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Machine Maintenance

In order for your espresso machine to take care of your espresso, it is important for you to take care of your machine.

There are two critical components involved in extending the life of your espresso machine.

1. Dedicating at least 3 minutes a day to the cleaning of the machine's parts.

The cleanliness of your machine will affect the taste of your espresso. If you want to be in control of the brewing process, and enjoy the best espresso ever, cleaning your machine should be on your priority list.

Just 3 minutes of maintenance per day will extend the life of your espresso machine for many years to come. After a little simple cleaning, you'll be able to concentrate on your barista skills and apply all your creative energies to the art of espresso.

You won't believe the difference. Compare the taste of the espresso before and after cleaning. Afterwards, you will appreciate the importance of this quick and easy routine.
Maintaining your machine will become an automatic task after just a few days - no more difficult than putting your dishes in the sink after a meal.

2. Watching and preserving water quality for your machine.

Water is a crucial ingredient in brewing a cup of espresso. It deserves special attention.

The hardness of the water you use varies depending on where you live. Hardness is caused by compounds of calcium and magnesium, as well as a variety of other metals. If calcium and magnesium carbonates in the water exceed 8 gpg (grains per gallon), then the water is considered hard. Otherwise, it is soft.

Hard water requires more soap and synthetic detergents for laundry and washing at home, and contributes to scaling in boilers and industrial equipment.

Boiling hard water precipitates "water dirt," which affects the heating elements, pipes, heat exchanger surfaces, and boiler walls. These unwanted scaling elements restrict water flow, which detracts from the quality of your espresso. Furthermore, the boiler scaling elements act as an insulating layer, which prevents proper water heating. This leads to a higher use of energy by the espresso machine, which negatively impacts our environment. As these deposits build over time, they may also eventually clog and corrode the interior of espresso machine, causing your equipment to break down.

The first thing that you must do in order to ensure that your water is appropriate for brewing espresso is check the hardness of your water.

You may refer to the Water Hardness Map of the US (below) or call your local water department and ask for water quality reports.

Water Hardness Map of the US

You may also test water quality at home with the water hardness strips.

If your water has more than 8 gpg (Grains per Gallon), you should consider a filtration system to soften the water.

The easiest and the cheapest way to ensure softer water is to buy bottled spring water from a credible source. Otherwise, use a filtration system.

Do not use distilled water, since most of the minerals and salt elements that contribute to the great taste of espresso have already been removed.

High-quality soft water has a fresh aroma with a slightly "sweet" taste because it lacks distortion to its mineral composition.

How frequently you descale your machine will vary according to water hardness in your area. Please descale your machine as soon as it begins to work more slowly or irregularly, or when the quality of the foam ("crema") diminishes.

You may refer to the chart below for your descaling schedule.

Water Hardness
gpg (Grains per Gallon)
Descaling Interval
Soft Water
0 - 3 GPG
6 months
Moderately Hard Water
3 - 7 GPG
3 Months
Hard Water
7 - 15 GPG
2 Months
Very Hard Water
15 + GPG
1 Month

 

Tips and Warnings

  • NEVER leave the water tank empty. Before switching your machine on, always check the water level.
  • Distilled water is not recommended, since most of the minerals and salt elements that contribute to the great espresso taste already been removed.
  • It is easiest to use specially made brushes for cleaning the group heads of espresso machines.
  • Never use soap while cleaning your espresso machine.
  • Never use vinegar as a cleaning solution. It can damage some parts, and certain plastic components will absorb it. Vinegar will also affect the taste and aroma of your espresso.
  • To ensure longer gasket life, you should place your portafilter loosely in the back of the machine at night or when machine is not on.
  • Do not use any abrasive or metal scrubbing pads. They can scratch the plating and expose the soft brass underneath.
  • Backflushing is not recommended for Lelit models PL042 or PL51.