Removing Limescale from Coffee Machines – How to Do It Properly?

So, using a coffee machine, you always come up with the problem of removing limescale.

As someone who truly appreciates a good cup of coffee, I’ve learned a thing or two about water quality.

When you heat water close to its boiling point, the dissolved minerals like calcium and magnesium start to settle out.

Now, you might think using distilled water could be the fix, but trust me, it doesn’t make for the best coffee.

Over time, these minerals accumulate, forming what we know as limescale, especially in machines like espresso makers. If unchecked, this build-up can even block the machine’s inner plumbing.

How to Remove Limescale from Espresso Machines?

removing limescale from espresso machines
How to remove limescale from espresso machine using citric acid

Before we start, I need to mention that, you should always refer to the user manual of your specific coffee maker, as some manufacturers may have specific instructions or recommend proprietary descaling solutions. Also, regular descaling (every 1-3 months, depending on water hardness and frequency of use) helps in keeping the coffee maker in optimal condition. On top of that, brands sell specific products for this cleaning type.

However, why I always trust the natural organic methods to remove limescale?

Though there’s a multitude of methods to combat limescale. Sure, there are branded products, but they can be a bit pricey.

But that is not really the main point.

Removing limescale in coffee makers
Limescale blocking operation of a coffee maker.

Vinegar might come to mind as a home remedy, but even a tiny leftover trace can ruin your coffee’s taste. Not to mention, the strong smell it releases isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Removing limescale using vinegar therefore may cost you the coffee flavors for the first cups after using it in the subsequent brews.

Citric acid, in contrast, is typically more neutral, leading many to favor it for their descaling needs.

My top recommendation for removing limescale? Citric acid, also known by its chemical name, propane-1,2,3-tricarboxylic acid. As the name hints, it’s found in citrus fruits. These white crystals can range in price, but if you’re smart about where you shop – like online or at specialty stores in England that cater to Indian or Chinese cuisines – you can snag a good deal.

Here’s a detailed step-by-step guide on how to remove limescale from coffee makers using common household solutions: citric acid.

How to Remove Limescale Using Citric Acid

  1. Preparation: Purchase food-grade citric acid in crystal or powder form. It’s often available at grocery stores or online. Lemons or limes are the two most popular citrus fruits with high acidity concentration.
  2. Making the Solution:
    • Dissolve 1-2 tablespoons of citric acid in 1 quart (1 liter) of warm water. Stir until the citric acid is completely dissolved.
  3. Descaling Process:
    • Empty the coffee maker and ensure no coffee grounds remain.
    • Pour the citric acid solution into the coffee maker’s water reservoir.
    • Turn on the coffee maker and start a brewing cycle.
    • Allow the solution to run halfway, then turn off the machine and let it sit for 15-30 minutes.
    • Turn the machine back on and complete the brewing cycle.
    • Once the cycle is complete, discard the solution.
  4. Rinse:
    • Fill the water reservoir with clean water and run a full brewing cycle. This will help to flush out any remaining citric acid residue.
    • It’s recommended to run at least two rinse cycles with clean water to ensure all residues are flushed out.

One thing to note is that citric acid takes its sweet time dissolving in cold water. So, a pro-tip from a fellow coffee lover: prepare a concentrated solution in advance, storing it in a reused plastic bottle, and you’ll be ready to descale anytime. Then you’ll have a cleaner machine and better coffee!

Bonus: How to choose the right cup to enjoy your coffee?

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