How to Perform a Flush on Your Breville Espresso Machine

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If you’re a coffee enthusiast who owns a Breville espresso machine, ensuring the optimal performance and longevity of your beloved appliance is essential.

One crucial maintenance task that every espresso machine owner should know is how to perform a flush.

A flush involves running water through the machine to clean the brewing system and remove any lingering coffee residue or impurities.

In this concise guide, we’ll walk you through the simple steps to perform a flush on your Breville espresso machine, helping you maintain the quality of your coffee and keep your machine running smoothly for years to come. Let’s dive in!

Performing a Clear Water Backflush and Cleaning Cycle on Your Breville Espresso Machine

Clear Water Backflush:

  1. Remove the portafilter from the group head.
  2. Insert the blind filter (backflush disc) into the portafilter basket.
  3. Attach the portafilter back to the group head.
  4. Press the appropriate button (single or double shot) to start the extraction process and let the machine run for around 10 seconds.
  5. Stop the extraction process and wait briefly.
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 four to five times for a thorough flush.

Cleaning Cycle:

  1. Insert the cleaning disc into the portafilter basket.
  2. Place a cleaning tablet on top of the cleaning disc.
  3. Attach the portafilter back to the group head.
  4. Position a container under the group head and steam wand to catch the cleaning solution.
  5. Press and hold the appropriate button (single or double shot) for a few seconds until the cleaning light starts flashing.
  6. The cleaning cycle will run for approximately five minutes, during which the machine will flush the cleaning solution through the group head and steam wand.
  7. Once the cleaning cycle is complete, the machine will notify you, and you can remove the container and portafilter.

Remember: Regular maintenance, including clear water backflushing and cleaning cycles, is crucial for optimal performance and taste. Additionally, periodic descaling using a descaling solution or a vinegar and water mixture is recommended.

By following these steps, you’ll prolong the life of your Breville espresso machine and enjoy consistently excellent coffee.

Understanding the Difference Between Backflushing and Descaling Your Breville Espresso Machine

Backflushing and descaling are two distinct cleaning processes that play crucial roles in maintaining the performance and longevity of your Breville espresso machine. Let’s explore the differences between these two methods:


Backflushing primarily targets the removal of coffee oil build-up on the brew head, enhancing the taste of your shots and ensuring proper water flow. Key points about backflushing include:

  • Coffee oil removal: Backflushing effectively eliminates the accumulation of coffee oils, which can negatively impact the flavor and aroma of your espresso.
  • Improved water flow: By clearing the brew head, backflushing optimizes water flow through the system, leading to better extraction and a more enjoyable cup of coffee.
  • Frequent maintenance: Backflushing is typically performed more frequently than descaling, with the aim of maintaining cleanliness and optimal brewing conditions.


Descaling focuses on cleaning the internal water system of your espresso machine, specifically targeting the removal of mineral deposits. The key aspects of descaling are as follows:

  • Mineral buildup removal: Descaling eliminates mineral deposits, such as limescale, that accumulate over time due to the presence of hard water. These deposits can impede the machine’s performance and affect the taste of your coffee.
  • Performance and lifespan maintenance: By regularly descaling your Breville espresso machine, you help ensure consistent performance and extend its overall lifespan.
  • Less frequent maintenance: Descaling is typically performed less frequently than backflushing since mineral buildup occurs gradually over time. The specific descaling interval will depend on the water hardness in your area and the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Backflushing and descaling are both vital maintenance procedures for your Breville espresso machine, but they serve distinct purposes.

Backflushing focuses on removing coffee oil build-up to enhance taste and water flow, while descaling targets the removal of mineral deposits to maintain performance and extend the machine’s lifespan. B

y understanding the differences between these processes and incorporating them into your regular maintenance routine, you can ensure that your Breville espresso machine consistently delivers delicious coffee.

Frequency Guidelines for Backflushing and Descaling Your Breville Espresso Machine

Determining how often you should backflush and descale your Breville espresso machine depends on factors such as usage and water hardness. Let’s explore the recommended frequencies for each process:


Breville advises performing a clear water backflush at the end of each brewing session. This helps maintain cleanliness and ensures optimal taste in subsequent shots. By backflushing regularly, you can prevent the accumulation of coffee oil and residue within the brew head.


For the Breville Barista Express, the recommended descaling interval is every 60-90 days for water hardness level 4. Water hardness levels can vary by region, so it’s important to determine the hardness of your water supply.

If your Breville espresso machine doesn’t have a descale indicator or if you’re unsure of the water hardness level, a general guideline is to descale the machine once every 3 to 6 months. This timeframe allows for the removal of mineral deposits that can affect performance and taste.

It’s worth noting that the frequency of backflushing and descaling may differ depending on your specific circumstances. Factors such as the volume of coffee brewed, water quality, and personal preferences can influence the maintenance schedule.

Flushing a Breville Espresso Machine with Vinegar

Using vinegar to flush a Breville espresso machine is indeed possible, although it is not the optimal choice for descaling. Here’s how you can clean your Breville coffee machine using vinegar:

  • Mix vinegar and water: Combine equal parts white vinegar and water, filling the machine’s tank up to the MAX line.
  • Remove the filter: Take out the filter from the portafilter to ensure a thorough cleaning.
  • Position a container: Place a large jug or container under the group head and steam wand to catch the vinegar solution.
  • Start the machine: Turn on the espresso machine and allow it to reach the brewing temperature.
  • Perform a manual pour: Once the machine has reached the proper temperature, initiate a manual pour to flush the vinegar solution through the system. This step helps clean the internal components and remove any build-up.

While using vinegar can assist in cleaning your Breville espresso machine, it is important to note that vinegar is not the ideal choice for descaling the machine. Descaling refers to the removal of mineral deposits, such as limescale, which can affect the performance and taste of your coffee.

For this purpose, it is recommended to use a descaling solution specifically designed for espresso machines.

Vinegar may not effectively remove mineral deposits, and its strong odor can be difficult to eliminate from the machine.

Using a descaling solution tailored to espresso machines will provide more effective results and help maintain the longevity and performance of your Breville espresso machine.


Maintaining your Breville espresso machine is crucial for consistently delicious coffee and its longevity. Performing a flush, including a clear water backflush and regular descaling, ensures optimal performance and taste. By following the step-by-step guide we provided, you can easily incorporate these maintenance tasks into your routine.

Remember, a clear water backflush removes coffee oil build-up and improves water flow, while descaling targets mineral deposits for continued machine performance. The frequency of backflushing and descaling depends on usage and water hardness, so be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Additionally, we discussed the use of vinegar for machine flushing. While vinegar can be used for cleaning, it is not the best option for descaling. Using a descaling solution specifically designed for espresso machines yields more effective results.

By implementing these maintenance practices and incorporating regular descaling and backflushing into your routine, you can keep your Breville espresso machine in optimal condition, ensuring consistently great-tasting coffee and extending its lifespan.

Remember, your espresso machine is a valuable investment, and proper care and maintenance will help you enjoy exceptional coffee experiences for years to come. So, embrace these simple steps, keep your machine clean, and savor every sip of your perfectly brewed espresso. Happy brewing!

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Jacob Harris

Jacob is a coffee enthusiast who turned his passion into a career. As the owner and editor of Karma Coffee Cafe, he shares his extensive knowledge and recommendations, captivating fellow coffee lovers.

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