How to Descale Your Coffeemaker

Have you noticed how, similar to new grinders, after you buy a new coffeemaker you’re able to make great tasting coffee for a few months, but after some time you notice that the coffee doesn’t taste as good as it used to? A likely cause is scale that is slowly building up in your coffeemaker.

What is scale?

Scale is the buildup of minerals inside your coffeemaker, generally referred to as lime scale. The buildup is typically due to using hard water when brewing your coffee. Using hot water from the tap can speed up the buildup of lime scale in your coffeemaker since there is likely scale sitting in your hot water heater.

Why is lime scale bad?

Scale causes a lot of problems in coffeemakers. Not only does it make your coffee taste bad, it also causes other issues, like buildup over the mechanisms inside the coffeemaker that make the water heat up, which means your coffee may start brewing at a lower temperature. It can also clog up your coffeemaker in different places inside the machine and scale can make it malfunction and just stop working altogether.

How can you prevent scale buildup?

Many use tap water for brewing their daily coffee. The hard water from the tap can quickly cause lime scale to build up over the course of a few months. You can prevent scale buildup by using bottled or filtered water. You won’t be able to completely eliminate scale buildup, but you can slow it down.

It’s important to note that some coffeemakers have special instructions for descaling and cleaning in any other way could void your manufacturer’s warranty. Please review the instructions that came with your coffeemaker and if there’s a discrepancy between their directions and mine, use your coffeemaker’s instead.

The hack

Now that we’ve discussed prevention, we need to get your coffeemaker descaled and brewing better tasting coffee now. Cleaning your drip brew coffeemaker is important. Here’s the process for descaling:

-Make sure your coffeemaker is cold (hasn’t been used for at least an hour)

-Insert a new filter

-Fill the reservoir half way with equal parts water and distilled white vinegar

-Run the coffeemaker, then dump the mixture once the brew cycle completes

-Repeat this 1-2 more times depending on length of time since last cleaning

-Let the coffeemaker cool for a few minutes

-Remove the old filter and insert a new one

-Wash out the decanter and add fresh water to the reservoir (no white vinegar this time)

-Run the coffeemaker and dump the water once complete

-Repeat this 1-2 more times depending on the presence of vinegar

-Brew a small amount of coffee and dump out to ensure any remaining vinegar is completely removed

One word of caution: make sure you only use a mixture of half white vinegar and half water when going through this process. If you use only white vinegar, it will be a lot harder to get the vinegar taste and smell cleaned out. You can also use a citrus based decalcifying solution or a professional descaling solution. White vinegar works just as well and is usually cheaper. Try descaling your coffeemaker using these tips and repeat this process every 2-3 months and I bet you’ll taste a big difference in the coffee you brew.

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