MINERAL BUILD UP
Tell-tale signs that your coffee machine might be covered in mineral build-up:
Your coffee is not extracted properly, it tastes unnecessarily sour and flavourless.
When the boiler in the coffee machine doesn't reach optimal brew temperature, your coffee can run the risk of under extraction. It can come out tasting sour and watered down. This hinders you from experiencing the full flavour potential of your coffee beans, wasting the time and effort put in by your roasters and farmers.
The coffee machine’s water flow seems slow or congested.
When there is heavy mineral build up, the water systems get clogged up. There could simply be too much calcium and lime build up getting in the way. Just like any blockages, over time it gets harder and harder for water to pass through. This can result in an overload or worse, an explosion.
The water temperature isn't hot enough!
Water temperature is vital in coffee making. It is crucial that your water heats up to 90-95 degrees for espresso machines, to extract your coffee correctly. Although different coffees require a certain temperature, you miss out on the wonderful flavours it would have had to offer if you don’t brew at the right temperature.
Luckily, products are now available to make descaling easy for home-brewers and professionals alike. At Delano we use Urnex Coffee machine cleaning products, they have developed highly effective products that can withstand tough scales without damaging your equipment.
Keep in mind that every coffee machine can require different types of descalers, so make sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions for descaling. Descaling your home-brew system should be much easier than commercial coffee machines.
With commercial machines, the boilers/heating elements are pulled apart and soaked in descaling solution for days until all the build-up is dissolved, and this is generally done by qualified coffee machine technicians. The main reason for this is the boilers are considerably larger in commercial coffee machines and errors in this process can lead to safety hazards.
Example of descaler
At home you generally need to mix the descaling agent with water, add to your machine’s water reserve and then run it through the machine. You then follow this by running clear water through the system as a rinse. The descaling agent is designed to dissolve build up, you shouldn’t have to remove gunk yourself!
However, if it gets really bad then you might have to. How often you should descale will depend on the water quality of your location, harder water (a higher mineral content) will require more frequent descaling and vice versa. In Australia, NSW, ACT and Victoria have fairly soft water, wheres QLD, NT, SA and WA have harder water.
If and when your coffee machine is left unattended for too long, the scale build up can leave permanent damage on the coffee machine. The heating element corrodes, and the corrosion points become more susceptible to mineral build-up. It can even cause the element leak power and this will cause the power supply to trip. You will also find that previous build-up will leave behind craters on the surface of the boiler.
So treat your machine right, descale it regularly (or have a coffee machine technician do so) and this will extend its lifespan considerably and make your coffee taste better.