If you own a Barista Express by Breville, then you may know that it comes with an automatic descaling mode. This helps to clear out any minerals that can build up over time and keeps your coffee machine running smoothly.
But that convenient feature doesn’t always work.
I’ll cover everything you need to know about descaling your Barista Express, including what to do if it won’t enter descale mode.
Let’s dive in.
How To Enter Descale Mode
First, let’s quickly recap the process to put the Barista Express into descale mode.
You will need to do these steps in order:
- First, put the cleaning disk into one of your filter baskets.
- Lower the filter basket into the portafilter and put 1 cleaning tablet into the filter.
- Lock the portafilter so that it is closed in the Group Head.
- Turn your Breville off by pressing the “Power” button.
- At the same time, press the “1 Cup“, “2 Cup“, and “Power” buttons and hold all three down for three seconds.
- Your machine will turn on and begin the cleaning process. This should take about 5 minutes and you will hear 3 short beeps when it’s done.
Of course, even if you follow those steps, the Breville may not enter descaling mode. If that’s the case, keep reading on to see the most common causes (and what to do about them).
1. The steam knob is turned on
This one is easy to overlook and quick to fix, so be sure to check this first.
If your steam knob is turned on even a little bit, it can cause the descale cycle to get interrupted or not begin at all.
Check the side of your Barista Express and make sure that the knob is turned to the Standby position.
2. You have an older model
Not all models of the Barista Express have a descale mode.
There is one model in particular that will require you to follow a few steps to manually descale the machine.
There’s an easy way to tell if this is the model you have: Check to see if you have a light labelled “Clean Me” on your machine. If you do, then your model does not have a descale mode and you will need to descale it manually.
If you have a light labelled “Clean / Descale”, then you have a model that does have a descale mode, and it should be working. In this case, you can check out the video below to see how the descale mode works.
The process to manually descale your Barista Express is slightly different from the model with the automatic descale mode shown above, but it’s straightforward enough.
How To Manually Descale Breville Barista Express
For Breville machines that have the “Clean Me” indicator light, you basically need to switch between modes yourself while running the descaling solution through the machine.
Here’s how to do that:
- Ensure that you begin with the machine turned off.
- Fill the water tank with a mixture of 50% white vinegar and 50% cold tap water.
- Take the portafilter out of the group head and make sure that you have a large cup or bowl beneath the group head and steam wand (to catch the descaling solution).
- Turn the machine on by pressing the Power button, then wait for the machine to heat up.
- Once all the button lights are on and the machine is ready to brew, press and hold the 1 Cup button. This starts a manual pour and is how you will descale the machine.
- Allow the machine to go through half of the solution in the water tank, then release the 1 Cup button.
- Turn the Steam/Hot Water dial to the Hot Water position and let water run through it. After about 30 seconds, turn the dial back to the Standby position.
- Now, turn the dial to the Steam position and let steam pass through the wand for about 2 minutes. Then, turn the dial back to Standby.
- Make sure that the water tank is empty by pressing and holding the 1 Cup button until all of the descaling solution has emptied out.
- Remove the water tank, rinse it well, then fill it up with fresh cold water.
- Rinse the machine by running the fresh water by pressing the 1 Cup button and holding it down for 30 seconds. Then, turn the dial to Hot Water for 30 seconds and to Steam for 2 minutes.
After you’ve descaled the machine, you will need to reset the Breville after cleaning so that it knows that you’ve run a cleaning cycle.
As you can probably tell, this process runs the cleaning solution through all of the various nozzles and wands to make sure that all potential blockages are cleared out.
Newer models of the Barista Express have a descale mode that will take care of most of this for you, but once you get the hang of it, it isn’t too hard to do yourself. In fact, you can view it as part of your coffee ritual and a step that will let you enjoy flavorful brews for the next several weeks.