It’s an exciting day when you first get your brand-new Nespresso machine. The shiny stainless steel. The smorgasbord of different coffee flavors to try. But like most things, without the proper maintenance and a little TLC, your once beloved Nespresso machine may soon start experiencing issues.
We’ve found the most common reasons why Nespresso machines stop working properly is either because they need descaling, or because they need to be reset back to their factory settings.
Here are the top eight most common reasons we’ve experienced why your Nespresso machine may no longer be working like it used to, and what you need to do to fix it:
- Yes, you do have to clean your Nespresso machine.
- Too much or too little coffee coming out?
- All Gunked up?
- Air bubbles?
- The machine isn’t heating.
- Not piercing the capsules.
- The lights keep flashing.
- Someone Poured Milk Into The Water Tank..?
Why Listen To Us? Well, because we KNOW coffee! In fact, we make our own coffee, coffee machine cleaners, and reusable capsules which we've sold to over 41 countries. Our team ouf experts include Tristan (an engineer), Claire (a food writer) and Richy (a barista). So, whether you're looking for a recipe or repair guide, we've got you covered 💚
Table of Contents
1. Yes, you do have to clean your Nespresso machine.
Nespresso suggests that you descale your machine every 3 months or 300 brews – whichever comes first. This process removed mineral particles from your tap water that build up inside the machine’s pipework.
This is often overlooked but is essential to keep your machine alive, especially in cities with hard tap water.
Refer to your user manual for instructions on how to descale your specific machine. We’ve simplified the descaling process for Nespresso’s most popular machines in these guides below:
- How to descale your Nespresso Inissia coffee machine.
- How to descale your Nespresso Pixie coffee machine.
- How to descale your Nespresso U coffee machine
- How to descale your Lattissima Touch coffee machine
- How to descale your Nespresso CitiZ coffee machine
2. Too much or too little coffee coming out?
The typical extraction time using the Espresso (small cup) button should be between 25-35 seconds and should produce around 40 ml of espresso coffee. If you find the extraction is taking longer than 40 seconds or shorter than 20 seconds, or you are getting a different volume of coffee than you are used to, you might have accidentally re-programmed the pour volume.
This can happen if you push the button to start and then push it again to stop before it has completed its full pour cycle. A factory reset is really easy to do and will take you back to the original pour volumes.
We’ve created a cheat sheet on how to reset the most common models of Nespresso machine for your convenience!
3. All Gunked up?
It’s hard to get in the habit of rinsing your Nespresso machine after every use. Unfortunately, because of this, coffee sediment can build up in the spout of the machine over time and can even block the whole system.
To clean the coffee buildup inside the spout try straightening out a paper clip, pipe cleaner, or q-tip and scrape up around within the spout. Once done close the lever in rinse through a couple of times to wash out any particles that have become dislodged.
Coffee grinds can also get built up against the spikey pyramids inside the capsule mechanism that are used to pop open the foil lid of the coffee capsules. This can result in a blocked or stifled flow as the water has trouble passing through the pods.
We recommend using an old toothbrush to scrub the inside of the capsule mechanism clean from time to time to avoid this from happening. Again, once done close the lever in rinse through a couple of times to wash out any particles that have become dislodged.
4. Air bubbles.
If you have ever let your water reservoir run dry (and who hasn’t), then you might have sucked some air into your Nespresso machine. This will affect the pressure inside and might mean you are not getting the full Nespresso experience.
To correct this, we’ll need to run water through the machine a couple of times without a pod inserted to push out the air bubbles. This works because the pump now doesn’t have to battle against the resistance of a coffee capsule, and can push the water through quite easily.
It usually works the first time; however, you may need to repeat the process if your machine has swallowed a lot of air, or has been sitting in storage for some time.
Follow these steps to purge the air out of your Nespresso machine
- Make sure the water tank is full and installed properly.
- Switch ON the machine and open the capsules lever
- After machine warm-up and ready, press the Lungo / Espresso Button
- You will hear some pump sound and monitor the capsule compartment
- If no water/steam come out from the compartment, keep repeating step 3 and 4
- Depends on how serious of your airlock problem, after 5-10 cycles (I have tried over 15 times) you will see water pumping out to the capsules compartment.
- Close the capsules lever and purge the machine 3-4 times again.
5. Machine Isn’t Heating.
Firstly, we’ve got to figure out if the machine isn’t heating at all, or if it’s just not as hot as it should be.
If it’s the latter, we recommend that you decalcify the machine and clean it thoroughly (refer to tip #1) . Often, the accumulation of sediment in the boiler will make the heating system work less efficiently. If this happens to you, it is normal that only the first coffee comes out colder than usual. Try several cycles without coffee, and then the final coffee with your capsule—this way, the boiler should have had plenty of time to warm up. Then run some decalcification cycles to attempt to clear the mineral build up out.
On the other hand, if all the coffees are always cold, then it’s you’re your machine has broken. Usually, you have to replace the Thermoblock (which heats the water before it goes out) or the thermostat (which regulates how hot it gets).
6. The Nespresso coffee machine does not pierce the capsules
And speaking of piercing, we have one of the most common problems here. When your Nespresso coffee maker doesn’t pierce the capsules or pierces them badly, coffee can’t come out (or it will come out in minimal quantities).
If your coffee maker doesn’t break the capsules, you can do two things:
- Check the punch needle. Sometimes it bends or breaks, and since it’s such a small item, we don’t realize it until the coffee extraction fails.
- Use official Nespresso capsules. You may not know this, but the latest models of Nespresso coffee makers have an anti-compatibility system that bends or disables the single pods in case they are not the official Nespresso pods.
Also, refer to all gunked up above. It may not be the punch needles that are the problem and could be the output side of the pod that’s causing the problem.
7. The Nespresso coffee machine light is flashing.
Flashing lights on your Nespresso machine could mean many things, from simply telling you that it’s heating up, to alerting the user that it’s in descaling mode. It also could be indicating something far more serious has happened.
Some machines use these sequences of flashing lights to provide a diagnostic message. To understand exactly what your machine is trying to say, it’s best to refer to your user manual.
However, that being said, the most common cause is either a decalcification warning alarm or signaling that the machine has been put into descaling mode. To exit the descaling mode, or remove the decalcification warning, hold the buttons down for at least 7 seconds.
If you’re still having problems, you can read our guide to fix flashing lights on your Nespresso machine here.
8. Someone Poured Milk Into The Water Tank!
OK, we know this sounds ridiculous but yes, it happens! Sometimes people (and let’s not name names) think that it’s a good idea to put milk in the water tank of their capture coffee machine. Maybe to make a hot chocolate.. or a mocha..? I really don’t know to be perfectly honest.
Let’s just clarify, this is not a good idea!
For starters, milk has a different boiling point to water. It contains fats sugars and a plethora of tiny particles that aren’t just bad for your machine but will completely gunk it up. Worst case the milk solids burn on the inside of the Thermoblock (Nespresso’s heating mechanism). Best case, you can try to quickly reverse any temporary damage by running a couple of descaling cycles through the machine.
Still Having Problems? Time for an upgrade!
If you’ve tried these 8 tips to get you Nespresso machine humming again and still can’t get it signing like new, then it may be time for an upgrade or replacement. It sucks, but these machines will only live for 5-10 years at best and will all eventually need replacing.
We know this is a little daunting, so put together this guide to choosing the best Nespresso machine on the market today.
We’ve brewed and tasted hundreds of espresso shots on our quest to determine which machine reigns supreme. The following are our top 4 winners.
- Best All Round: Nespresso CitiZ Espresso Machine by De’Longhi
- Best Value: The Essenza Mini by De’Longhi
- Best for the Barista: Nespresso Creatista by Breville
- Best for Busy People: Nespresso Lattissima Touch by De’Longhi
You can read the full review here 🙂
Did this help?
We hope you’ve enjoyed our guide on getting your Nespresso machine back to its glory days.
Please leave us a comment if you have any tips of your own, and we’d love for you to share this article with your friends!