SCG's Monthly Maintenance Reminder
october 2012
If October hasn't been dubbed Serious Devotion to Descaling month, it's clearly due to an oversight on the part of ... well, whoever designates those ... but around SCG, we are knee-deep in citric acid! If you've seen what we have, you'll understand why we're devoting this month's Maintenance Tips to descaling.

Descaling is the process that will break down any mineral build-up in your espresso machine or coffee maker's water works -- internal tubing, boilers, thermoblocks, etc. -- that can have an adverse affect on the machine's performance over time. Tell tale signs of scale build up include a dripping steam wand (because scale is inhibiting your ability to fully close the steam knob) or an excessively long heat up time (because scale is covering the heating element). In fact, if you are having either of these issues, a thorough descale is our first recommendation in resolving it.

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Scale Build-up in Boiler
Ojo! Scale build-up in a Rancilio Silvia boiler

Backflushing vs. Descaling

We are often asked about the difference between descaling and backflushing an espresso machine -- can you use the same products, can you do one or the other, do all machines need both types of maintenance, etc.

These are two very different maintenance procedures. As we wrote above, descaling is focused on the machine's internal waterworks, breaking down any mineral build up in the boiler or thermoblock as well as along all the waterworks leading from the water reservoir to the boiler and from the boiler to the brew head, steam wand and/or hot water spigot.

Backflushing, on the other hand, is a specific process focused on espresso machines that have a 3-way brew pressure release / solenoid valve and it addresses only that system. It forces a detergent solution back through the brew head and the solenoid valve in order to break down any coffee residue. This solution does not get into the boiler nor does it address mineral build-up. Additionally, while all espresso machines and coffee makers should be descaled (if they're not using some type of water filtration system), only a select few espresso machines need to be backflushed.

Need more info on this topic? Watch Gail go over the differences between these two processes in this video.
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