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We get tons of questions from people asking what’s the best way to clean their automatic espresso machine. We also get people asking if they can use vinegar or other solutions to clean their machines. We tackling your FAQ’s and more in this article.
As far as machines are concerned, the main difference between a super-automatic and a semi-automatic is the way they are cleaned and maintained. We cannot stress enough how important it is for the life expectancy of your machine to maintain a regular cleaning program. You would never neglect changing your car oil for two years; the same applies to descaling your espresso machine. Since we have a repair shop, we have first-hand experience with what happens to espresso machines when they are not properly maintained. That being said, properly maintaining your machine is not a hard thing to do at all.
Like a semi-automatic, you will want to descale your super-automatic machine every three months or so. Many machines have indicator lights or display messages that notifies you when it is time to descale your machine. Products to use are Urnex Cleancaf and Durgol Swiss Espresso Descaler.
JURA Capresso also has a descaling tablet they recommend for their machine. For a more potent solution, you can use Urnex Dezcal. We recommend that you use dezcal once a year for machines that use water with normal water quality or twice a year when hard water or well water is being used. Many super-automatic machines have a descaling program that you can run. Refer to your user’s manual on how to properly descale your machine or give us a call if further assistance is needed.
Urnex Dezcal Activated Scale Remover has been formulated to quickly and thoroughly remove scale and mineral buildup; it is compatible with coffee makers, super-automatic as well as semi-automatic espresso machines. This product eliminates clogs in your machine by gently removing scale deposits that accumulate through prolonged use. Dezcal is non-toxic and biodegradable; this product is suitable for commercial as well as home use.
Sold in 4 oz bottles.
It is a good idea to also run a cleaning cycle periodically. The cleaning cycle uses a detergent that removes the oils from your brew group and brew spout as well as any chambers in between. Your machine will need to have a chamber that bypasses the grinder when brewing coffee. This feature is commonly referred to as a bypass doser or preground coffee funnel. You simply drop one of these tablets in this funnel and run the cleaning cycle. You should use the Urnex cafiza super auto cleaning tab for this purpose. JURA Capresso has their own version of this product that they recommend using for their machines called JURA Cleaning Tabs.
Aside from maintaining a regular descaling cycle, it is always a good idea to filter the water that you put in your machine. You can purchase filters that fit directly in the water reservoir and operate similar to a Brita filter system. JURA has several varieties of filters that can be used in their machines. Please consult with your machine's manual before purchasing a water filter to ensure that you select the correct style.
The Mavea Intenza water filters can be used in most Gaggia and Saeco semi-automatic machines. These filters can be found in the parts and care section of our site. Please refer to your user’s manual when choosing the proper filter for your machine or contact us so we can assist.
Another simple solution is to use properly filtered water for your espresso machine. This water not only tastes great, but it has been filtered to remove minerals that contribute to scale buildup.
This is a popular question that we addressed in our Best Water for Coffee and How to Make the Best Tasting Coffee article. We DO NOT recommend descaling your machine with vinegar—because scale is made of porous contents, it can soak up the vinegar and hold onto that taste in your machine. Can you imagine drinking vinegar-flavored coffee? Another reason why we don’t recommend using vinegar is because it can degrade the seals on the inside of some machines. You don’t want to make a mistake and damage your machine when trying to descale it. We suggest to play it safe and use a descaler that is recommended for your machine.