How to Clean and Descale the Breville Barista Express (BES870)

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Over time, hard water can produce mineral buildup on many of the inner components of the Barista Express (and any other espresso machine).

This can impact brewing flow, brewing temperature, machine power, and espresso flavour.

Your local water supply will play a large factor in how often you’ll need to descale your Barista Express. Also, using filtered water will reduce the amount of build-up that accumulates in the machine.

However, regardless of the preventative steps taken, sooner or later you’ll see the light on your machine indicating that either a clean or descale is required.

Breville Barista Express Cleaning Cycle

If the ‘CLEAN / DESCALE’ indicator on your machine is flashing, this indicates the requirement for the periodic cleaning cycle.

Here are the basic steps (as per the Barista Express instruction manual):

  1. Empty the drip tray and fill the water tank
  2. Insert the filter basket into the portafilter
  3. Place the Breville Cleaning Tablet into the filter basket
  4. Insert the portafilter into the group head
  5. Turn the machine off
  6. Hold the power button down while also pressing and holding the 1 cup and 2 cup buttons
  7. Wait 5 minutes until you hear 3 beeps, indicating the process is complete. Ensure the tablet has completely dissolved. If not, repeat steps 5 to 7.
  8. Rinse the filter basket and portafilter
  9. Your machine should now be ready to use

And here’s a quick video guide from Hoon’s Coffee that walks you through the process:

Breville Barista Express Descaling

If the ‘CLEAN / DESCALE’ indicator on your machine is illuminated (not flashing), this indicates the requirement for descaling.

Here is an outline of the steps for descaling (as per the instruction manual):

  1. Dissolve one sachet of Breville Descaling powder into 1L of water then fill the water tank.
  2. Press and hold the 2-CUP button and then press and hold the Power button at the same time. This should enter the Descale mode. The Power button should flash continuously as the machine heats up.
  3. When the POWER, 1 CUP, CLEAN/DESCALE, and HOT WATER/ STEAM indicators are all illuminated, the machine is ready for descaling
  4. To start the descaling process for the coffee component of the machine, press the 1-CUP button machine. This process takes approximately 25 seconds. Press the 1 CUP button to terminate the process after approximately 25 seconds.
  5. Descale the steam component by turning the steam dial right towards the steam icon.
  6. Descale hot water component by turning the steam dial left towards the water icon.
  7. Repeat steps 4-6 above to use up all the solution in the tank.
  8. Remove the water tank, give it a good rinse, then fill with fresh water.
  9. Repeat steps 4-6 with fresh water to flush the machine.
  10. Press the power button to exit the descaling mode.

RELATED: The Best Coffee Machine Descalers

If you have the time, we recommend watching the below guides from Seattle Coffee Gear and Hoon’s Coffee:

Note: Skip to the 11min mark if your Barista Express has a “Clean/Descale” light (newer versions of the machine). Older versions had a “Clean” light only.

Breville Barista Express Descaling FAQ

How do I turn off descale light on the Breville Barista Express?

The Barista Express Clean Me light should automatically turn off once the descaling cycle is complete. If the light remains on after descaling, it indicates the process was not completed correctly. Some users have reported success with the following method: With power off, press and hold the 2 cup button, and then the power button. After 3 seconds, the power and 1 cup buttons should be illuminated.

How to reset Breville Barista Express?

To reset the Barista Express to default settings, press and hold the PROGRAM button until the coffee machine beeps three times, then release the PROGRAM button.