Jmanespresso Senior Member Joined: 18 Jan 2009 Posts: 2,109 Location: Westchester NY Expertise: I live coffee
Espresso: Alex Duetto II Grinder: Compak K10 - Vario Vac Pot: Yama-SY5/SY8/TCA5 Drip: V60, Beehouse, CCD Roaster: Hottop B
Posted Sat Apr 6, 2013, 7:05pm Subject: Re: What is the target PH and hardness target for use in HX machines?
Descaling IS that simple... On single boiler machines. This includes machines like the Rancilio Silvia, Gaggia Classic, and many others.
I have a feeling you're not fully aware how a HX machine works. Fear not, you're in luck. Check out this Article, for a visual and written explantion of exactly whats going on inside your HX espresso machine.
Once you read that, you'll fully understand why descaling an HX espresso machine isn't as simple as filling the tank and flushing it through.
That said, its easy enough to descale an HX, and honestly, its just part of owning the machine. Once you do it once, it'll never intimidate you again.
Using water that is EXTREMELY soft, or completelty devoid of any minerals, like Pure RO, or Distilled water, might allow you to go for a long time between descaling(effectively never), however, the taste of your coffee will suffer so severely, that it makes no sense. Without getting ridiculously scientific(because seriously, this is a very geeky topic, even for me, and it can get DEEP, very quick), the water you brew coffee with(using any method), needs to have minerals for the taste to be right.
Anyone who says coffee brewed with distilled or pure RO water has nothing wrong with it, is wrong, and simply has never tasted how good their coffee can be using water with mineral content.
Now, softened water is more then OK. Pretty much everyone uses softened water. IDEAL, WBC certified water, gives the best flavor, but scales the machine real quick. For the competition, its worth it. For home use, most anyone uses softer water, and descales at 6 month intervals. 1 year tops. 150-170TDS water is what is used for WBC/SCAA level competition, and is considered to be the best water for espresso and coffee.
At home, IIRC, you want to shoot for no lower then about 30tds. Thats about the threshold of taste/minimal scaling. Alternatively, if you have hardness test strips, measured by grains of hardness, 3 is what Chris Coffee suggests(and again, is on the lower side, but still tastes good and allows minimal scale buildup)
As far as PH goes, idk.
Follow Your Bliss
Coffee makes your constantly overcome your prejudices and re-evaluate your own "received wisdoms" when it comes to judging cup flavors. -Tom Owen, SweetMarias
Posted Sat Apr 13, 2013, 7:03am Subject: Re: What is the target PH and hardness target for use in HX machines?
You might also want to skim (or even read) Jim Schulman's insanely long water faq Easy to find through google, or there's a hyperlink to it in the what coffee things do you have bookmarked thread (or something like that).
and Wayne P. (calblacksmith) wrote a fantastic in depth explanation of HX machines, you can probably find it by searching his posts (though he posts often and it was a month or two ago - IIRC). If you prefer, I have it saved in a Word file on my home PC (and I don't even own a HX machine - it's that good)...just pm me and I'll send it to you. Actually, I can send you the water faq too, as I have that saved also.
. Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
Posted Sat Apr 13, 2013, 2:17pm Subject: Re: What is the target PH and hardness target for use in HX machines?
Yes, I had a look at both of those, thanks!
I like the IDEA of using treated water and never having to descale, but if it affects as bad as anything scale could induce, and if there are corrosion and boiler overflow risks as well, I think the hassle of descaling every 3-4 months is not TOO much to be borne.. :)
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