How often should I descale my coffee maker?

If you are a coffee lover, you surely know that descaling your coffee maker is a fundamental step in maintaining the machine. Not only does it improve its performance, but it also influences the taste of the beverage being served.

The accumulation of sediment inside the coffee maker, caused by water, can cause the coffee to taste bitter and unpleasant. In addition, mineral buildup can clog the lines, reducing the water flow and affecting the machine’s performance.

Once you understand the importance of descaling, you may wonder how often you should perform it. In this article, I will explain everything you need to know to keep your coffee maker well descaled to enjoy the best cup of coffee.

Factors affecting the calcification of a coffee maker

Two factors can influence the calcification of a coffee maker:

  1. The hardness of the water: the sediments accumulate inside the machine when it boils, affecting the performance and taste of the coffee. Therefore, the softer the water you use, the less calcification will occur in your coffee maker.
  2. Frequency of use: The more you use your coffee maker, the more water will pass through it, increasing the possibility that minerals will accumulate inside the circuits and calcification will occur.

Frequency of descaling according to the type of coffee maker used

The frequency of descaling will depend on the type of coffee maker used. Some coffee makers, such as a pod or espresso machines, have a control card that registers the amount of coffee prepared and issues a descaling alert when the maximum limit is reached.

The descaling alerts are related to the number of coffees prepared and the water’s hardness. For example, Nespresso configures its control cards with these baseline data:

Descaling Nespresso Citiz
Descaling Nespresso Citiz

If you use filtered water, you will have to descale your coffee machine after preparing around 1200 cups, but if you use soft water, you will have to do it after preparing approximately 600 cups. Finally, using hard water, you must descale your coffee machine every 300 cups.

Most modern coffee makers allow you to enter in their memory the hardness of the water used in each cup, which allows the machine to calculate the right time to descale the machine.

The decalcification light is on steady
The decalcification light is on steady

In the image below, you can see how the Delonghi La Specialista coffee maker offers the option to select the hardness of the water used in each cup, which helps to determine when the machine needs to be descaled:

Excerpt from the manual of the Delonghi La Specialista Maestro
Excerpt from the manual of the Delonghi La Specialista Maestro

Note: If the coffee maker does not include the possibility of varying the water hardness parameter, by default, it considers that the water used is normal, so the decalcification alarm will appear after about 500 cups of coffee have been prepared.

➡️ It is important to note that some espresso, coffee pods, or drip coffee makers do not have a warning function for descaling.

In this case, it is necessary to consider the frequency of use, the hardness of the water used in each cup, and the taste of the coffee to describe the machine at the right time. Use the above table of Nespresso coffee machines as a guide.

Water hardness

Water hardness is measured and classified as follows:

  • Soft water contains 0 to 60 mg/L calcium carbonate.
  • Moderately hard water contains from 61 to 120 mg/L
  • Hard water contains from 121 to 180 mg/L
  • Very hard water contains more than 180 mg/L of calcium carbonate.

➡️ To simplify the information on the frequency of descaling, soft water is defined as water containing 0 to 120 mg/L, and hard water is defined as water containing more than 121 mg/L of calcium carbonate.

Descaling of other types of coffee makers:

  • Moka pots.
  • French Press (metallic).
  • Traditional drip coffee machines (metallic).

In these cases, the lime does not affect the operation of the machine, but it does affect the taste of the coffee. For these coffee makers, I recommend adding a decalcifying liquid mixed with water in equal parts and simulating the preparation of a coffee (without coffee).

Written by Pablo Barrantes Nevado
I am Pablo Barrantes, a coffee lover. I decided to start this website to solve all the doubts that arise every day when preparing our favorite drink: coffee. I am an industrial engineer by profession, but I have worked in coffee shops for many years, where I have learned all the secrets about coffee machines and coffee. My passion for coffee has led me to investigate and study beyond the obvious, and thanks to this, I can offer solutions and give news about coffee and coffee makers. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I research, document and write here.

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