Need an espresso-jolt of caffeine to get your motor started in the morning or a cappuccino or latte during the day? This Fix-It Guide on espresso maker repair tells how an espresso maker works, what often goes wrong, how to identify an espresso maker problem, and what parts and tools you will need to fix it. It then gives simple step-by-step instructions for how to service an espresso maker pressure cap, how to service an espresso maker hot-water dispenser head, and how to service an espresso maker frother assembly. This guide also refers to electrical cord repair, appliance controls repair, heating element repair, and more.
How Does an Espresso Maker Work?
A home espresso maker is a small appliance for brewing coffee beans using steam rather than hot water. An electric steam-pressure espresso maker heats water, forcing the resulting steam through a filter basket filled with finely ground dark-roast coffee beans. Higher quality espresso makers also have pumps. In addition to espresso, many units can make cappuccino (espresso topped with steam-frothed milk) and latte (espresso mixed with steam-heated milk) beverages.
What Can Go Wrong with an Espresso Maker?
A simple espresso maker is similar in operation to a Coffee Maker; many of the same things can go wrong with it. Electrical cords, switches, the heating element, thermostat, and fuse can all fail. In addition, the pressure gasket can be damaged or the safety plug may have opened, and the steam tube or frother can become clogged.
Make sure you clean an espresso maker after each use by rinsing or washing the filter basket parts and steam nozzle. If your unit has a frother assembly, allow steam to escape into a water-filled frothing pitcher for a few seconds after use, then wipe the tube and frother with a damp cloth.
How Can I Identify an Espresso Maker Problem?
- If the espresso maker does not work, make sure power is on at the outlet and test the electrical cord. Also test the switch and the thermostat (see the Appliance Controls Fix-It Guide), the fuse, and the heating element, servicing or replacing as needed.
- If no espresso drips from the filter cup, the grounds may be too fine or tamped too hard.
- If the espresso comes out too quickly and is weak, make sure you use the proper grind and the correct amount of water, usually recommended as 1/4 cup per 2 tablespoons of coffee.
- If the espresso spurts from around the filter cup, inspect and clean the filter cup. Make sure that the filter basket assembly seats completely. Also verify that you are using the correct ratio of coffee and water. Remove and replace gasket as needed.
- If the espresso is not hot, test the heating element and thermostat.
- If the espresso maker makes little or no steam, turn the unit off and let it cool, then disassemble and clean the frother and the steam tube.
Mineral deposits can easily build up and block passages in espresso makers. Use distilled or filtered water if possible. Also clean the espresso maker periodically, following the manufacturer’s recommendations.
What Do I Need for Espresso Maker Repair?
You can find replacement parts for your espresso maker from the manufacturer or through aftermarket suppliers. In addition, some larger stores that sell these appliances will have replacement parts available. Here are basic tools you may need for fixing an espresso maker:
- Pliers or wrenches
What Are the Steps to Espresso Maker Repair?
Service an espresso maker pressure cap:
- Carefully remove the pressure cap gasket.
- Remove any screws holding the pressure ring in place and remove the ring.
- Inspect the pressure cap for cracks and replace as needed.
Service an espresso maker hot-water dispenser head:
- Remove the locking ring with a screwdriver.
- Carefully remove the filter screen and gasket.
- Clean all parts with soapy water and replace the gasket if necessary.
Service an espresso maker frother assembly:
- Unscrew the frother from the steam tube and remove the vent ring.
- Check the rotor and replace it if it is damaged.
- Wash all parts of the frother assembly with warm soapy water.
- Dry and reassemble the frother assembly.
Electrical parts, such as the power cord, on-off switch, boiler, and hot water coil can be tested with a multimeter.