maintenance

  • How to Descale the Saeco Aroma

    Saeco AromaOne of the most popular New Year’s resolutions is to clean up and de-clutter around the home, so why not start by performing some maintenance on your espresso machine? One of the easiest steps is to descale, which, depending on the mineral content of your water, should be done every one to three months. If you don’t descale your machine, mineral deposits can build up inside the machine and cause the water tubes to clog and/or reduce the brew temperature.

    Since we’ve discussed how to descale a couple of different types of espresso machines in the past, we thought we’d focus on a perennial favorite - the Saeco Aroma, which has a stainless steel boiler. Not only does this durable little machine have a great reputation, but descaling it is also easy and painless. Just mix a descaling solution like Dezcal with 32 oz. of warm water, pour it into the machine’s water reservoir, pull the solution into the boiler by running water through the steam wand, and let the solution soak for a while. Then pull more solution into the boiler and let it soak in again, rinse and you are ready to go! However, it’s important to make sure to taste the water in your machine before you start brewing again to ensure there is no descaler left over in the machine, which will cause your espresso to taste a little funky.

    The lesson of this story is - care of for your Aroma, and it will reward you with great tasting espresso for years to come. For complete step-by-step instructions on how to descale your little dude, watch Bunny take us through this simple process.

    SCG How-To Guides: Descaling the Saeco Aroma

  • How to Descale a La Pavoni

    Uncle BobWe've descaled double boilers, heat exchangers, every superautomatic under the sun and even simple thermoblock-driven machines, but in all of our years giving scale the what-for inside espresso machines, we had not descaled a La Pavoni. So when Sam's Uncle Bob asked us to show him the ropes, we couldn't pass up the opportunity to delve into something completely new!

    La PavoniThe first part of the process, of course, was to find a willing participant, and Bunny stepped in to do the job. After working in our retail store for years and performing tune-ups for customers, she knows a thing or two about descaling machines, so we tasked her with researching how to perform it on a manual lever style machine like the La Pavoni. What she learned (and what we then filmed) was deceptively simple! It will take some time, patience, a little elbow grease and, of course, some Dezcal, but it was a very effective method for removing scale within the La Pavoni's boiler and on its heating element.

    Watch as she guides us through the process. And if you happen to have a La Pavoni or a lever machine that you descale in a different way, we'd love to learn new techniques! Post your process in the comments and we'll share with the class.

    SCG How-To Guides: Descaling La Pavoni Manual Espresso Machines

  • Bonavita Coffee Maker Care and Maintenance

    Bonavita Coffee MakerYour trusty Bonavita coffee maker brews up batch after batch of delicious java with relatively little assistance from you. It doesn't have a lot of moving parts, so it's easy to overlook regular care and maintenance when it just simply works, right?

    Implementing a regular cleaning and maintenance schedule will result in both increased equipment longevity and improved flavor in the cup. Certain components -- like the carafe -- will show their wear and tear, but other, more internal parts can't give you a visual cue. Accordingly, it's a great idea to come up with a schedule that you follow on a regular basis, descaling and cleaning the machine's components at least a few times each year.

    Here's what we recommend:

    • Weekly - Each week, wash the carafe and filter basket with warm soapy water. Using a food-friendly cleaning solution, wipe down the machine, paying special attention to the hot plate if your model has one.
    • Monthly - Every fourth external cleaning, wipe out the water reservoir to limit any residue build-up. If you're using water with a higher mineral content, you should also descale at this time.
    • Quarterly - For softer water, a quarterly descale using a descaled and detergent combo like Cleancaf will improve your coffee maker's performance.

    Watch as Gail demonstrates and guides us through a thorough maintenance regimen using the Bonavita coffee maker with a glass carafe.

    SCG How-to Guides: Bonavita Coffee Maker Care and Maintenance

  • Tech Tip: Saeco Talea Giro Test Mode & Troubleshooting

    Saeco Talea GiroWhen you have an excellent tech resource like Brendan around, you sometimes have to just lock him in a room with a bunch of superautomatics and force him to teach you his ways of diagnostics and troubleshooting! Okay, we really didn't have to lock him in the room -- he was more than willing to share his expertise with us -- but we did spend an afternoon with him as he explained the Saeco Talea Giro's test mode and errors for us.

    As you may have learned from our other forays into Test Mode, this is a wonderfully helpful tool that you can use to run each functional element of your superautomatic separately, without making coffee, in order to determine what might be the cause of an issue with the machine. Is your machine not brewing because the pump isn't working, or are you simply grinding your coffee too finely? You can find out by running the pump to see if water comes out of the machine, sans coffee.

    After he guides us through Test Mode, Brendan then dives into the Talea Giro's more cryptic errors and alarms -- since it doesn't have a display screen and only a series of symbols and lights to communicate any issues it might be having, it can sometimes be difficult to interpret. He gives us a few tips and tricks in understanding what the errors mean and how you might be able to easily resolve them.

    SCG Tech Tips: Saeco Talea Giro Test Mode

    SCG Tech Tips: Saeco Talea Giro Alarms & Errors

  • Tech Tip: Saeco Odea Test Mode & Troubleshooting

    Saeco OdeaWe had a customer come into the store a few years ago with his Saeco Odea Giro in tow. He loved the coffee that it made and wanted to have it tuned up by our repair team. While he had it in, however, he wanted to find out if his model had a particularly tender heart because he felt like the only way it would work each morning is if he started out by giving it a hug.

    It's true that the Odea series kind of got a bad rap because not only were its sensors particularly sensitive, it had limited tools with which to communicate its feelings to you. What does a slow blinking exclamation point mean versus a fast blinking or solid exclamation point?

    In these two videos, Brendan demystifies the rather cryptic errors and alarms that the Saeco Odea series of espresso machines can show. Then, he shows us how to take the machine into Test Mode so you can run each functional component separately and diagnose what might be having an issue.

    If you're in need of a secret decoder ring for your Saeco Odea machine, check out these videos.

    SCG Tech Tip: Saeco Odea Series Test Mode

    SCG Tech Tip: Saeco Odea Alarms & Errors

  • Tech Tip: Saeco Vienna Plus Test Mode & Troubleshooting

    Saeco Vienna PlusPossibly the hardest working superautomatic in the business, the Saeco Vienna Plus has a long and storied history of home espresso performance. It's the machine that many people started out with, years ago, and it's hung in there for over a decade (in some cases,) dutifully delivering your java.

    But what it offers in a hard working focus on helping you make coffee you love, it lacks in bells and whistles. Some might argue that said bells and whistles are not necessary, and they might be right; but one of the missing bells and/or whistles is an easy-to-read user interface system that tells you what might be going on when the machine isn't working properly.

    So we asked one of our resident Vienna Plus lovers, Brendan, to guide us through two different diagnostic videos: First, he shows us how to put the machine into Test Mode, so that you can bypass functionality and test individual components. Then he talks us through the different alarms and errors that the machine may experience, and how to diagnose which means what.

    If you own a Saeco Vienna Plus and have often wished there was a way to better interpret its rather cryptic blinking lights, these videos will serve as your secret decoder ring!

    SCG Tech Tip: Saeco Vienna Plus Test Mode

    SCG Tech Tip: Saeco Vienna Errors & Alarms

  • Tech Tip: How to Clean the Nuova Simonelli MDX Coffee Grinder

    Nuova Simonelli MDXCaring for your Nuova Simonelli MDX is an essential element of producing excellent espresso, and it's easier than you think! The MDX features a burr configuration that adjusts the bottom burr instead of the top during calibration, so cleaning it doesn't mean you'll need to completely dial in your grinder again. It also has a super simple method for removing the front doser chamber for cleaning, so you can also keep this area in tip-top condition.

    In addition to regularly running a product like Grindz through it, you should completely disassemble, clean and then reassemble the Nuova Simonelli MDX every so often to ensure optimal performance. The frequency of this is dictated a bit by how busy your cafe is -- many businesses do this weekly, while others do it monthly. You'll know which is the best schedule for your coffee shop once you start doing it regularly and can gauge how much coffee is building up in the burr chamber.

    Recommended tools include a vacuum of some sort and a firm-bristled brush, like the Grindminder; other than that, a little soap and water for the bean hopper and doser chamber keeps everything squeaky clean. For guidance on this procedure and tips on how to care for the grinder once you've taken it apart, watch Brandon's in depth video.

    Tech Tip: How to Clean the Nuova Simonelli MDX Coffee Grinder

  • Tech Tip: How to Clean the Mazzer Super Jolly Coffee Grinder

    Mazzer Super Jolly Coffee GrinderHave you ever walked into a coffee shop, seen a particularly grimy coffee grinder and wondered if you should stick around? We definitely have! Caring for your Mazzer Super Jolly has a variety of benefits, not the least of which is communicating to your customers your commitment to fresh and delicious coffee.

    We know that taking it apart and caring for each component can be a bit daunting, however, so we're here to guide you. Watch Brandon disassemble, clean and then reassemble the Mazzer Super Jolly, while also discussing with us common issues, best practices and considerations you should take into account when caring for your grinder. If your business moves swiftly, we highly recommend that you take this on at least once a month, if not weekly. Your grinder (and customers!) will thank you for it, later.

     

    Tech Tip: How to Clean the Mazzer Super Jolly Coffee Grinder

  • SCG Tech Tips: Saeco Superautomatic Brew Groups

    Saeco Superautomatic Brew GroupsThere are many things in life that have been attributed to such nebulous sources as 'science' or 'engineering' that are actually deeply rooted in magic. The chromatophores of cephalopods, gelatin-based foodstuffs, magnets -- these are just a few examples of magic being passed off as ordinary. It's unfortunate that their provenance isn't more keenly celebrated, but we understand why: It's far easier for people to get their head around these experiences if they disregard their obvious mojo.

    And while it's tempting to add the brew groups of Saeco Superautomatic Espresso Machines to this list, these are actually not operated by tiny magical beings inside your espresso machine; they truly are the result of some fine-tuned mechanical engineering. But don't take our word for it! Learn all about them with Brendan -- what they do, how they work, how to care for them, troubleshooting tips and more.

  • The Lowdown on Distilled Water

    A common inquiry we receive is in regard to the type of water customers should use in their coffee making equipment. Some folks think that distilled water will be their best bet, as they won't have to worry about scale build up or performing descaling procedures for the life of the machine. While there seems to be as many supporters as there are detractors regarding whether or not it's healthy for the human body, we do know that distilled water is not healthy for your machine. Seriously!

    First up, let's talk about your equipment. Putting water that has a lack of ions or mineral content through equipment that is basically composed of minerals (stainless steel, copper, nickel, brass, etc.) means the water will take that opportunity to take on ions from the surrounding space, contributing to a slow breakdown of those materials. It will essentially leach minerals out of the metal components and degrade the machine's performance over time. Additionally, there are several models of machines on the market (such as the Rockets) that use a minor electrical charge to determine if there is water in the reservoir. If there aren't enough minerals in the water to conduct that charge, the machine's sensor will report that the reservoir is empty.

    Now, let's talk about the coffee. The Specialty Coffee Association of America performed extensive testing and found that the ideal mineral balance is 150 parts per million (ppm). Coffee produced with water that contains this level of hardness is better balanced and a smoother cup. A lower mineral content allows for too much available space, often resulting in an overextraction and a bitter flavor. Conversely, water with a higher mineral content won't have enough available space, so coffee will be underextracted and possibly more sour. As distilled water has hardly any mineral content (roughly 9ppm), using it for coffee preparation will result in a bitter cup.

    We often say that you should use water that you like to drink to make your coffee -- after all, coffee is over 98% water. Another option is to use softened water, which encapsulates the minerals, maintaining their structure within the water while prohibiting their ability to adhere to internal components. This can give you the best of both worlds: A smooth and balanced cup of coffee while also reducing the overall maintenance for the life of the machine.

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