A slow-running espresso machine is kind of a contradiction in terms. Whether you need your morning hit of concentrated joe before heading out the door or have to serve the needs of customers in a café, having an espresso machines that drips out its precious coffee slowly just isn't a good situation.
Here are five reasons it might be happening.
1. Your Coffee Is Too Finely Ground
One of the most common reasons why an espresso machine works slowly is actually nothing to do with the machine itself, which is great since this is such an easy fix. If you find your espressos coming on the slow side, you may simply be using coffee that is too finely ground. Since finely ground coffee absorbs more water and is better able to block its progress, you'll find that the finer the ground the slower the machine. Try grinding coarser before you try anything else.
2. Your Head is Blocked with Scale
If grinding courser doesn't work, you might want to try descaling or decalcifying your espresso machine. Over time, scaling or calcification can develop around the head, which will slow down the operation of your machine — this is particularly likely if you use tap water rather than distilled water since tap water carries more mineral deposits. Run the machine through with a descaling solution and remove the head for cleaning.
3. Your Pump is Suffering
Your espresso machine needs a pump in order to work. Unfortunately, that pump can weaken over time. You can usually tell whether this is the case by listening to see if the machine sounds more laboured. If so, keeping the water reservoir full at all times can help, although you might have to just bite the bullet and order a new pump.
4. Your Machine Isn't Receiving Enough Water
If your espresso machine isn't receiving enough water, it's not going to provide you with your espressos nearly as quickly as it should. This can happen for several reasons, but two of the most common are mains supply problems and blocked water filters. Check that the water supply is coming through fine from the mains, and then look at the filter. You may find that dirt has blocked it up.
5. Your Machine is Unclean
Finally, your espresso machine might just be downright unclean. If you don't clean it on a fairly regular basis, especially the head, the oil in coffee can build up and cause minor blockages, which will result in slower operation. Make sure the head, baskets and portafilter are cleaned with a special degreaser.
Talk with a professional about coffee machine maintenance if you keep having troubles.