F Felicia Kloewer

Tune Up For What: Backflushing vs. Descaling

Mar 11, 2016 · cleaning · espresso · machines · tune up · videos
Tune Up For What: Backflushing vs. Descaling

Did you say you know a way to extend the life of an espresso machine? That’s music to our ears!

Keeping up on your machine's maintenance means you’ll get a properly functioning machine making delicious coffee every time. Spencer and Jeremiah break down the difference between two popular maintenance procedures, descaling and backflushing, and why those methods of cleaning are important to keeping your machine running at full speed!

Let’s start with some basics.

Step 1. Preventative maintenance is the best kind of maintenance! Check your water hardness—which is the mineral content, particularly lime and calcium, in your water—and make sure you’re using soft water. You can check it by using water testing strips.

Step 2. Read your manual on how to best care for your machine. Manufacturer’s recommendations vary from each other, so if you’re switching machines be sure to read up on their maintenance advice.


Descaling removes the build up of minerals, such as lime and calcium, from water in your machine. A solution, such as Dezcal, will be mixed in through the tank and run through the pipes and boiler. The solutions are made from citric acid, so it's non-toxic when used properly to clean the machine.

As we mentioned in step two, read the manual of your machine to see the recommended cleaning method. Some don’t recommend descaling, while others do but advise different solutions. We recommend descaling every one to three months depending on how often you run your machine. The more you use it, the more frequently you should descale!


Backflushing is only done on semi-automatics that have a three-way solenoid valve. While descaling focuses on cleaning your water system, backflushing removes coffee oil build-up on the brew head. Removing oils will help the water flow through the brew head and improve the taste of the shot.

Like we said, this is only done on machines with a three-way solenoid valve. We recommend backflushing more often than descaling. If you’re using the machine daily, we recommend every week.

And remember, preventive maintenance is the best kind of maintenance! Read the cleaning section of your manual and figure out the best way to take care of your machine.

Watch the full report on descaling and blackflushing below and subscribe to our YouTube channel to watch more helpful videos!

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