We are in an era where cleanliness and hygiene together with proficient performance are very vital. When dealing with your coffee machine, you have to put all this into play to achieve the best coffee.
They key to that is carrying out a regular preventive and maintenance schedule on your coffee machine. We are going to have a detailed analysis of how effectively you can carry out such practices on various coffee machines.
Importance of Troubleshooting and Maintaining Coffee Machines
Carrying out regular maintenance practices on your coffee machine comes with a lot of perks. These machines are a costly investment and need to be in tip top condition to provide the best type of coffee.
You machine should be able to function to its full potential with precise results. This cannot be possible if you don’t regularly service and maintain it.
Let us have a look at some of the perks you are bound to benefit from with regular maintenance:
When you don’t regularly clean and maintain your coffee machine, there is bound to be a buildup of limescale and other dirt. This limescale often seeps into your coffee and brings an unpleasant taste, very bad for business, right?
This kind of dirt is also a breeding ground for harmful bacteria and other sorts of germs. Regular cleaning eliminates this and gives your coffee a better taste.
· Increased Lifespan
The whole point of regular service and maintenance is to extend its service life while improving its efficiency. By ensuring that all its parts are in order and working reduces breakdowns and changing of parts therefore saving on cost.
You should implement a regular cleanliness and maintenance plan on your machine. This will greatly increase the chances of it lasting for a very long time.
· Improved Efficiency
Poor or lack of regular maintenance of your machine can greatly reduce its performance and efficiency. This means that making that sweet coffee will be taking longer than expected with a compromise on its quality.
· Reduced Costs
Regular maintenance saves you money in the long run since your machine will be fully operational. This ensures more customers due to reliability and the fact that you provide them with the best coffee available.
It will cut costs on getting broken down parts and the service charges incurred in the repairs. Sometimes getting new parts can be more expensive than the actual cost of the machine.
· Better Coffee
If you really need to get the best quality coffee blend out of our machine, then you need to service and maintain it regularly. When burnt coffee grounds accumulate in the diffusers and other components, they can give your coffee a metallic or bitter taste.
Frequent cleaning and maintenance can get rid of such build-ups. This results in coffee that is very fresh and extremely delicious.
Ways Of Maintaining Different Coffee Machines
· Coffee Grinder Machine
This is a machine that you can use to create a fine or coarse coffee powder by grinding its beans. You can determine the degree of the fineness or coarseness of the ground coffee by adjusting some parts on the machine.
Coffee Grinders can either be manual or automatic which vary based on some operational aspects. To better understand the two, we can have a look at the different factors that differentiate them.
i. Grinding time: manual coffee grinders require manual work to grind the coffee beans meaning they consume a lot of time. Automatic coffee grinders can do the same in seconds in the coarseness or fineness that you require.
ii. Grind Size Adjustment: for manual coffee grinders, you can achieve very many grind size setting by adjusting some parts in the burr. You can shift from coarse to fine by loosening or tightening the blades.
Automatic coffee grinders on the other hand have their grind settings limited and based on their quality. Low-end grinders may not provide coffee grinds suited for all coffee machines.
iii. Portability: manual coffee grinders are very light with a compact design and you can easily carry them for outdoor activities. Automatic coffee grinders are very heavy and bulky and cannot operate without electricity hence not suitable for the outdoors.
iv. Affordability: the cost of these two machines is majorly influenced by their durability and quality. However, the safe general assumption is that the manual grinders are cheaper than the automatic coffee grinders.
We can now dive into the common problems you are likely to encounter while using your coffee grinder and how to go about them:
Coffee Ground Too Fine/Coarse
There are instances when your coffee grinder will act up and either give you extremely finely ground coffee or too coarse.
- Calibration settings
- You should adjust the settings of your grind size to the one most suitable for your desired coffee
Coffee Grinder Jammed
in such a case, your machine is powered, and your buttons are functioning well although the burrs are not spinning.
- The grinding chamber has a heavy accumulation of foreign material
- Ground coffee has clogged the grinding chamber
- The burrs are locked together since they have been positioned very close to each other
- You should empty the hopper and thoroughly clean it to remove any form of debris lodged in the grinding chamber
- Use cleaning agents and a brush to remove any oil-build up in the grinding chamber
- Ensure the distance between the burrs is further apart by adjusting it to a coarser grind size
We normally have modern grinders that come with a thermal cutoff switch that cuts out power if your coffee grinder heats up. It means that your appliance exceeded its thermal limits and would have been damaged.
- Running your coffee grinder without any coffee beans inside
- Using your coffee grinder extensively beyond its rated normal capacity
- Worn-out burrs that require your appliance to work more intensely that how it is supposed to
- You can let your grinder cool down for some time until the thermal switch disengages before operating it
- Replacing the worn-out burrs will ensure your appliance operates at optimum levels
Worn Out Grinding Burrs
when you use your appliance for a very long time, the burrs edges get worn out reducing their effectiveness. With time, it will take longer to grind the same amount of coffee beans than before.
- Normal appliance wear and tear
- You only have one option here, replace all the worn-out burrs. This is something you can actually do yourself with the right tools and components
Grinder Burr Misalignment
This occurs when one or more of the burrs are not properly positioned and at equidistant with each other. This leads to inconsistencies in the grind size with your coffee having both coarse and fine particles.
- Burrs become loose over time when continuously grinding your coffee beans
- You can physically reset the affected burrs though it will require some mechanical skills
The operation principle of this coffee machine in producing coffee is by passing hot water under pressure through some finely ground coffee beans. The pressure is generated by heating water inside some vessel then forces the water through the coffee.
Espresso Coffee making machines come in three broad categories:
i. Manual Espresso Machines: in this machine, the pressure required to create the coffee is generated by hand. This pressure is usually achieved when you pump the machines lever or piston to attain the bars required.
Additionally, all other processes like grinding the coffee, weighing the correct amount and tamping the filter basket are all manually done.
ii. Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines: you will still have to grind and weigh your coffee beans and then tamp them. The difference with the automatic is that you have control of the shot timing, enabling you to make your preferred espresso.
iii. Automatic Espresso Machines: just like the semi-automatic, you will also grind, weigh, and tamp the coffee beans. From there, all the procedures will be handed over to the machine for control and processing.
iv. Super-automatic Espresso Machine: this is the ultimate coffee-making machine because it basically does everything for you. It will grind your coffee beans, dose and tamp them at the same time.
It will even go ahead and froth your milk all at the push of a button. You can program your settings though it will give you very limited control over the process.
Ways Of Trouble Shooting And Maintenance
In as much your machine has a complex design, problems are bound to occur in your daily use.
Here are the common Espresso machine faults and how you can counter them:
Machine Has No Power
- The On/Off switch may be in the wrong position
- There may be a blown fuse in your machines socket or power supply
- The safety thermal switch may be activated thus tripping the machine
- Check whether your machines power switch is working well. There is normally a light that will show you if your appliance is on
- A blown fuse means some machine part tripped. Mostly check on the electro valve coils or element loops, they are the favorite
- If the thermal switch tripped, it is due to overheating. Let your machine rest for sometime before using it again
Coffee Not Being Dispensed/Slow Dispensation
- You may have packed your coffee grind too tight that the water cannot easily pass through
- There may be no water in the machines water tank
- The electro valve supplying the water may be faulty
- Water pump may have broken down
- Buildup of dirt and oil in the portafilter and group head due to lack of cleaning
- To confirm whether your coffee grind is too packed, you remove the handle and do a cycle without the coffee to see whether water flows. If it does, then your coffee is too packed or the handle is blocked and you need to clean it.
- Check on the functionality of the electro valve since it is very rare for the valve to be clogged by dirt from the water.
- You can monitor the noise of the water pump to find out if its faulty. You can always take it to a technician for replacement.
- Ensure that you appliance is regularly cleaned and use a degreaser to get rid of the oil build up
Quick Coffee Dispensation
- The most common cause having a coffee grind that is too coarse
- Check on your grinder to provide fine coffee grind. Also, don’t use stale coffee that has dried out
Coffee Leaks On The Portafilter
Sometimes you may find that you have coffee grains in your cup or the sides of the portafilter have coffee leaks. Let us analyze this in details:
- The group seal may not have been properly cleaned using a brush therefore not sealing properly
- The filter basket may be worn out or dented
- The group seals may also have started wearing out due to operating at high temperatures and constant compression
- Ensure that the rim of the basket contains no loose grains before operating for it to seal properly
- Dented filter baskets cannot stand the machines pressure, you should replace them immediately they are worn out
- You should make it a routine to replace the group seals at least once a year or when you notice the leakages
Dirty Water Spills
- Most likely the drain hose is blocked
- For drain hoses are into pipes, ensure their ends are not clogged to prevent drainage. For those that go into a bucket, they should not be inside the water.
- You can as well use any degreasing solution to clean the pipes by pouring them inside the hose pipes
Lack Of Water/Steam
- The most obvious reason is that the machine has not attained its operating pressure
- You have to wait for your appliance to gather enough pressure. If water is hot enough but still there is no steam, then confirm that the nozzle is not blocked.
Steam Nozzle Producing Water
- This means that the appliances boiler has been excessively filled. Most likely the machine level sensor failed to detect the boiler water level.
- You can scale down your machine and clean the boiler and the level probe for accurate filling
This machine can brew coffee that is similar to espresso but uses a form of single-serving pods instead of ground coffee beans. You simply insert the coffee pod on the machines front part and fill its tank with water.
Turning it on pumps the water through some heating element. Pressure is then used to force the hot water through the pod producing the Nespresso coffee.
This is when no coffee comes out of your Nespresso machine.
- It normally occurs when your water reservoir is empty while brewing your coffee. It will produce a “whooshing” sound because the machine is just blowing air.
– Even when filling the reservoir with water and placing the pod, the airlock will still persist. You can carry out the following easy steps for the air to cycle out:
- You have to first remove the capsule and make sure the connection between the water tank and the machine is okay.
- Press the start button to start brewing your coffee and give t multiple dry runs. The air should come out around the second or third run.
- Return your capsule and continue preparing your coffee the normal way.
Extended Or Brief Coffee Extraction
The normal extraction time for the best coffee from your machine is usually 25-30 seconds for a single shot. If it takes longer or shorter than that, then you clearly have a problem.
- Blocked and dirty grid plate
- Poor programming of the pour volume
- Build-up of sediment in the spout
– Clean the grid plate using a toothbrush, soap and water to remove the old coffee grounds
- For the pour volume, you can restore the machine to factory settings to restore the initial pour volumes.
- Clean the spout by using a paper clip to poke inside. Give it a dry run with water but no coffee.
- Most likely your water reservoir has not been locked well
- Blockages in the internal components may also lead to water build-up and leakages
- Ensure that you correctly position your machines water tank and align it well
- Descale your coffee maker regularly to clear all the blockages
No Coffee Dispensed
We have various reasons why you are not getting your coffee after brewing it.
- Lack of water in the water tank
- The coffee insert has not been properly placed
- Clogging and debris build-up in the dispensing pipes and valves
- Ensure that your water level is always full before using the coffee maker
- Ensure that you have properly inserted the capsule
- Always do a rinse cycle to help remove clogging and do some descaling
Machine Has Limited Pressure
- There may be air in your system because you either ran it with little water in the tank or opened it before the coffee was fully prepared.
- Ensure that your water tank is full. Run several cycles without putting any coffee pod until your machines gains enough pressure.
Strange Coffee Taste
- The major cause of bad tasting coffee is normally buildup of limescale, coffee residue and even machine oil.
- Descale you machine to eliminate the limescale buildup after every six months. You regularly clean your appliance in between the descaling.
This is a machine that makes coffee by filling it with ground coffee. Heated water from a reservoir is passed over it making it drip as coffee through a filter and collected in a container below.
These coffee makers can be found either as automatic or manual machines. Let us have a brief look at how they differ:
i. Automatic: all its processes are automated and you can actually customize your coffee brew. You can choose the strength of your coffee or even preset your brew times. They also have a hot plate that can keep the coffee continuously warm.
ii. Manual: in this coffee maker, you have control over the temperature of your water and the brewing time. This can be regulated by altering your pouring pattern. Their brew rate is slower compared to the automatic one.
Ways Of Trouble Shooting And Maintenance
Let us now go through some of the common problems you can encounter while using the drip coffee maker machines.
No power when turned on
- The two causes of this problem can either be that the power cord has a problem or the on/off switch is broken.
- Ensure that you replace either which is faulty and in the proper way to avoid the risk of electric fire.
- Sometimes clogging may occur on the machine’s one-way valves brought about by the build-up of debris and dirt.
- You can easily fix this by fishing out the debris using a very thin wire or even a toothpick that fits the valve.
Clogged Heating Tube
- This mostly happens when the heating tube is made of aluminum and it reduces the heating capability.
- The easiest fix you can do is running a single batch using vinegar followed by wo water batches to clean the vinegar.
- The machines water line may be clogged
- The brewing mechanism may have a problem
- To remove the build up of any residue or minerals, you should descale and do a thorough cleaning of your appliance
- Check the brewing mechanism and clean to remove any debris or change the filters or any faulty internal parts
Strange Vibrations And Noises
- The internal components may either be worn out or have become loose
- The placement of your machine is imbalanced
- Inspect your appliance for any loose parts and tighten them up where possible
- Give a coffee machine a thorough to remove any debris that may bring about vibrations
· Latte Maker Machine
A latte machine basically has the working design of an espresso machine but with an additional milk-frother that is in-built. They can brew your coffee at the same time heat and froth your milk in a single button command.
We can categorize them into four broad categories namely:
- Semi-Automatic Latte Machines: on this appliance, you have to physically add and tamp your ground coffee to the portafilter. The brew size is at your discretion but the water flow and all other processes are automated.
For the froth milk, they normally come with a frother wand that can be placed on your milk mug.
- Automatic Latte Machines: they are known to be consistent since al the settings have been programmed on your appliance. You have very limited control when brewing your coffee once you set your parameters.
- Super-Automatic Latte Machines: This is your ultimate one-stop shop latte machine. At the push of a button, everything from grinding, measuring and tamping of your coffee beans is done.
Its programming includes even the amount of milk to be frothed that can be portioned to your cup of coffee.
Let’s now have a look at the possible problems that you may encounter while using your Latte Maker Machine and how to deal with the:
Milk Not Frothing
- The steam pressure may be too low
- The steam nozzle is probably clogged
- You may be using poor-quality milk
- Ensure that your machine pressure has reached the optimum operating condition
- You use a very thin wire to unclog and clean the nozzle
- If the milk quality is not good, try a new batch
- Your appliance may be operating at its optimum temperature
- Check on the heating element of your machine and ensure it functions well.
- You should wait for your machine to properly heat up and achieve the right pressure before you start brewing your coffee
Slow Coffee Dispensation
- There may be a blockage on the machine brewing group head
- The filter holder may contain excessive ground coffee
- You may have set your grind settings to too fine
- You may have tamped too much coffee in the filter holder
- Regularly clean the group head daily to avoid blockage
- Ensure that you place the correct filter basket with the right amount of coffee measure
- Check on the exact grinder settings to establish whether the grind is optimum, not too fine and not too coarse
- Empty any coffee grind on the filter holder, replace it with a fresh grind and tamp it at the right pressure
Coffee Leakages From Filter Holder/The Brewing Head
- The gasket may have a buildup of coffee grind
- The filter basket may be dented
· Capsule/Coffee Pod Machine
Instead of the conventional ground coffee, this machine uses capsules or coffee pods to brew your coffee. These pods are usually made of either plastic or aluminum that are filled with ground coffee and sealed.
You will first need to fill water on the reservoir at the back where it is pumped to a heating element where it is heated. The pod is placed in a compartment at the front of the machine where the heated water under pressure passes through it.
The passing water releases the flavor in the capsule and it passes through a filter that prevents the coffee grounds from seeping into your coffee. The coffee then drips into a cup placed at the bottom.
You may counter a bunch of problems when using your capsule coffee maker. We can have a brief analysis of some of them and the quick fixes you can easily carry out.
Leakages In The Capsule Compartment
- You may have placed your coffee pod incorrectly on its holder. Another reason is the possibility that the injected water is either not entering or exiting the pod.
- You correctly place your capsule in a way that it perfectly aligns with the holder. You should also try cleaning the grid plate to eliminate the buildup of old coffee grounds then flush it with water
The Capsule Is Not Pierced By the Machine
We have many reasons why your machine won’t pierce your capsule.
- Wrong orientation of the pod when it is loaded and lays at an angle, normally when you don’t fully open or close your machine.
- When you don’t apply enough pressure on the lever to fully close it
- When the grid plate is clogged hence the small pyramid openings cannot force open the capsule
- If your capsule is not compatible with your machine
- The punch needle used in injecting hot water in capsules may also be broken
- Ensure that you place and align the capsule correctly and the lever pushed down to the end.
- When pushing the lever down, listen out to the click sound to confirm that it is fully closed.
- For the grid plate, you can unclog it by scrubbing with a small brush using soap and water.
- Always use capsules custom made for your machine. You can also find different varieties that are equally compatible.
- Unfortunately for the punch needle, you need to physically take your machine to an expert for repairs.
No Coffee Coming Out
- Very low water levels or no water in the water reservoir
- You may have incorrectly inserted your coffee capsule
- There may be clogging or debris buildup in your appliance
- Ensure that the water level is okay since most coffee pod machines don’t have level sensors in the water tanks
- Confirm that your capsule is properly placed and well-aligned with the machine well well-closed
- Regularly descaling your appliance will remove the blockages. However, rinse cycles don’t really do much with blockages
Improper Pod Orientation
- This mostly occurs when you don’t fully open or close your machine. The pod is usually stuck at an angle.
- Confirm that your lever is raised all the way up before inserting another pod. Lower the lever slowly to give the pod time to align, open it again give it a final hard push to close.
Grid Plate Clogged
- The pod is usually pressed against the grid plate during brewing. This grid plate has small openings that get clogged by the coffee grounds.
- You can unclog the grid plate by scrubbing it with a small brush, some soap and water
- Some capsules may not be compatible with your appliance meaning they cannot fit
- Ensure that you get pods that are compatible with your machine. However, you can get other varieties that have a slight variation in size but still fit into your appliance.
- You can also source for reusable pods
· Cold Brew Coffee Maker
These machines are capable of brewing coffee in just a few minutes instead of the normal extended times. The fact that heat is not used ensures that all coffee soluble don’t dissolve completely making your coffee, smoother, sweeter, and with minimal bitterness.
These machines have different functional ways but the end product is coffee having a drinking strength instead of a traditionally concentrated one.
We can have a look at the most common cold brew coffee maker version operation which uses a recirculation pump. You first place your coffee grounds on the center filter basket.
Fill the container with water and upon switching the appliance on, the water is circulated through the center filter. Coffee is extracted using natural osmosis that is boosted by the agitation of the constant water flow.
There are two major types of cold brew coffee makers that we can find in the market:
- Electric: the slow brewing process in this appliance is fastened by submerging the ground coffee and using agitation for faster flavor extraction in the least time (5-45 min). the downside is that the coffee flavor created is not as deeply robust as with the non-electric one.
- Non-electric: with this appliance, you can brew either using slow drip or immersion. In immersion style, you place your ground coffee on the submerged filter for between 12-24 hours.
In slow drip, you soak your ground coffee in cold water with the infusion drained into a separate container via a valve.
The maintenance procedure of this appliance is mainly cleaning it and with precision. All its parts should specifically be cleaned by hand only using warm soapy water.
· French Press Coffee Maker
This appliance is very easy and convenient to use when brewing your coffee. You place your ground coffee into your machine, add some water, and let it rest for some time then press.
Theres is nothing very complicated about this appliance and operating it is just as straightforward. However, you may encounter a few problems when operating it include:
Oils And Sediments In Coffee
- These come from the metal filter that is contained in the machine
- Constantly cleaning your coffee maker can get rid of oil and water scale buildup
You can also find other kinds of coffee-making machines but with simpler structures that require just basic thorough cleaning. They include:
· Stove-top Coffee Maker
You can brew your coffee by first placing your ground coffee on the filter at the top of the appliance. You then add water to the bottom container that generates steam creating pressure.
This makes the water at the bottom seep through the ground coffee on top and brew. It produces a very dark coffee brew.
· Siphon Coffee Maker
It uses a vacuum to brew your coffee. The water is heated just up to when it is about to boil then it combines with your ground coffee.
With such low temperatures, the brewing process is carried out delicately. This ensures that the coffee flavors are not over-extracted.
· Percolator Coffee Maker
The coffee-making procedure is simple and basic. You simply place your ground coffee on a compartment on top of the appliance.
Fill it with water and then turn it on. The water will heat up and be directed through a tube that will saturate your coffee grind repeatedly.
With a proper coffee machine maintenance process, your machine will serve you for a long time. This way, you will maximize the production capacity.
Remember, every machine comes with the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance procedures. Also, only trained personnel should repair the machine.
For any questions on coffee machine troubleshooting and maintenance, contact us now.