Coffee machines: Cleaning your coffee machine Fixing a blocked coffee machine
An espresso machine forces hot water through ground coffee at pressure - but if either the filter holder (where the ground coffee goes) and/or the portafilter (the part the filter holder sits in and then attaches to the coffee machine) are blocked, this can cause problems.
It's worth checking that both of these are clear and unblocked thoroughly - especially if a fine ground coffee is used.
Some coffee machines are supplied with pins for this purpose, and they can also be used to unblock the steam pipe. But any long pin will do the job.
Our video below shows you how to check what’s wrong if there isn't any water coming through your espresso machine:
Coffee machine blockages - troubleshooting
After the machine has been turned on and primed for use:
- make sure the steam knob is fully closed. Remove the portafilter from the brew head and press the brew switch, as if you’re making an espresso
- if water doesn't flow from the brew head, try descaling the machine.
If there is water coming through the brew head there are other areas to try.
- Remove the portafilter from the brew head and remove the filter basket. Check to see whether the portafilter is blocked by pouring water through it. If it is blocked, carefully unblock it using a pin or equivalent, referring to the instruction manual for guidance. Some coffee machines have additional parts of the portafilter or filter baskets – such as a shower disc - so see whether these need cleaning, too.
- Repeat this with the filter basket - pour water through this to see whether it’s blocked. If it is blocked, carefully unblock it using a pin, referring to the instruction manual for guidance.
- If water is coming through both the portafilter and the filter basket, check that the portafilter is correctly and firmly attached to the brew head before making a coffee.
- It’s also worth checking that ground coffee isn’t being over-tamped (pushed into the filter basket so much that water can't pass through the grounds), as this can also cause a build-up of pressure and causes water to leak from the portafilter once it’s attached to the brew head.
- If none of these remedies works, contact the manufacturer for help and advice, as you may have a faulty machine.
Using a fine grind of coffee
The filters on some machines can get blocked by using fine ground coffee, so we always recommend that coffee machines are maintained regularly by cleaning and descaling, to avoid any blockages.