Lelit Bianca owners: how does water from the brew head taste?

Equipment doesn't work? Troubleshooting? If you're handy, members can help.
dunja
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#1: Post by dunja »

Hi all, sorry for asking a water-related question in this thread, but I thought I would get more replies from Bianca owners this way.
I bought Bianca a few months ago, and yesterday for the first time I tasted water coming from the brew head (mainly because I wanted to compare the taste with the one from my old Brewtus). The taste was horrible: bitter, plastic-like, especially in the aftertaste. This wasn't a mild difference from a regular hot water, but a clearly noticeable one.
Could anyone else do the same test and let me know whether you notice the same?
If so, are you using the holder for the Lelit water filter in the tank or not? The reason I am asking is that this particular piece gives a bad smell, and I've been trying to figure out if that's maybe the source of this plastic taste.

Just for the reference: our water is relatively soft and tastes great right from the tap. I haven't been using any other filters, except for the Lelit one, though I thought I'd try Brita (will buy it today) to see if it makes a difference.
I regularly back-flush (once a day), clean the brew head after each shot, and a few weeks ago the machine was also back-flushed with a detergent.

Any help would be very much appreciated.

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another_jim
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#2: Post by another_jim »

It's odd, not something I've noticed.

Taste the steam boiler water; is it the same? If so, you need to replace the tank or components inside it (you should not be using the softener if your water s already soft) If the steam boiler water tastes fine; then the contamination is downstream of the pump and boiler fill solenoid. I'm not sure what to say in this case, since there is only brass and steel after that point. It would mean there is a contamination in your brew boiler, and it may need to be drained and cleaned.

Add on: If the steam boiler tastes fine, before going into the brew boiler, check the needle valve assembly -- that is a tight spot where something can lodge and add an off taste. The backflushes should have kept it clean; but if, as an ironic for instance, you have a lump of Urnex in there, it would explain the bitter taste.
Jim Schulman
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dunja (original poster)
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#3: Post by dunja (original poster) »

Thanks a lot for the reply! I've just tasted the water from the steam boiler (which I don't use that often, so I threw away two mugs of water before trying it). That one tasted the same and actually even worse (probably due to being a bit stale), but the same kind of taste. What's confusing is that the machine has been only 3-4 months in use. So when you taste the water from the brew head, it doesn't have any off taste? If you let it cool down a bit, what's the standard one can expect?
My only guess at this point is that there might be some chlorine in water, which when heated gives this taste. I'll now run through fresh water that's been filtered with Brita, and also I removed that black plastic holder for the Lelit filter, and see whether the taste improves.

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another_jim
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#4: Post by another_jim »

The problem is the water or tank. Haven't read about it recently, but it's happened that the plastic of the tank was inadequately cured, and gave off an aroma. Try the water straight out of the tank, and see if it's also bad (heat it, if it only happens when the water is hot). You may also try heating water straight from the tap. I've lived in a few buildings so old that the water pipes were occasionally skunky. You'll eventually hunt down the source.
Jim Schulman

dunja (original poster)
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#5: Post by dunja (original poster) »

Thanks a lot, Jim, I'll do that and see how it tastes. My current guess is that the tank itself is fine, but that the taste comes from that holder for the Lelit water filter. I've now removed it and placed it in another dish, so I can taste the water from there (also heated as you suggest). I've also emailed Lelit to ask about that part because it is so smelly. Since at least a few more people had the same issue with their Bianca, I'll post an update once I figure out where this taste is coming from.

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another_jim
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#6: Post by another_jim »

Well done, sounds like you found the culprit. It's easy enough the use the machine without the filter (if your water is hard, just dilute it with distilled until Lelit can send a new one). It may be that the plastic curing problems I mentioned affects just the bit.
Jim Schulman

DaveC
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#7: Post by DaveC »

New purchasers often don't do the following because it's not in the manuals. I put 15 litres through a new machine flushing it clean before testing and new machine taste remains for 1 to 3 months. QuickMill machines are best for quicky loosing new taste.

I don't like in tank filters as they can get a bit skunky in a warm/room temp tank after a few weeks... Depending on how much water you use it can stay in there days before refilling.

Some people only clean and sterilise/wash the tank every few months and not every few weeks. Things get slimy and not nice.

Shower screens are not dropped and the screen and area behind it cleaned every week. Puly Caffe is not enough.

Water in service boilers is rarely drained and refreshed to prevent the concentration of dissolved matter and ions increasing greatly over time.

All the above contributes to water not tasting good.

Nicoffee
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#8: Post by Nicoffee »

Hi, I know it's old but i'll try my luck.
I have the exact same issue with my victoria, terrible water taste from steam wand and group head.
"New" and plasticky taste.

The issue is definitely coming from the tank as the tank exactly smells like the outcoming water tastes.

I sent it through RMA last week, they just replaced the water tank and the taste & smell is still the same. :?

Did you find a solution that worked for you ?

dunja (original poster)
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#9: Post by dunja (original poster) »

Hi, thanks for posting (it's helpful to hear this happens to others too, so far I've heard from other people on reddit espresso forum as well). I've been in touch with Lelit and they also at first replaced my tank. However, the same issue appeared again. They've been rather helpful in trying to identify the problem and the last thing I've heard from them is that their technical team is working on a new holder for water filter, made from new material. In the meantime, don't use the holder for water filter. You'll have to keep the cap for the floating magnet, unfortunately, so I just replace the water before making coffee (twice a day).
You can also email Lelit to alert them to this issue (and subsequently get a replacement tank once they develop it).
The taste from my boiler is now much better, but an odd thing I've noticed is that the very opening on the bottom of the tank, where the water goes further into the boiler (you'll see the red plastic with a metal spring on the bottom of the tank) smells the same. If I flip the tank upside down and smell that spot, it smells exactly the same. I've been meaning to email Lelit on this as well, not that the same material is used at that spot too...
Let's keep in touch on this and update this thread just to make sure the issue eventually gets resolved for everyone with this issue.

retrogusto
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#10: Post by retrogusto »

I developed some intense health issues on the day that I started using my new Bianca, which eventually led me to run a pricey water test on water coming from the machine after having only made a handful of drinks. It didn't test for everything under the Sun, but it did test for a lot of things and the only things that came up were a tiny bit of lead (.013 ppm) and relatively high levels of nickel (.84ppm). I subsequently tested my tap water and did individual tests for the two boilers and confirmed that they weren't coming from my tap, and the nickel was coming from both boilers to varying degrees. Lelit was puzzled, Clive offered to refund me but couldn't provide a box for the return, and I had already gotten rid of mine and frankly I didn't have the strength to manage it. So it sat on my counter unused for almost three years, and I recently decided to flush a ton of water through it and do another test. Nickel is now down to .243ppm, whereas the "public health goal" for drinking water is more like .012ppm (12ppb) and when the EPA had a maximum contaminant level goal it was 100ppb (.1ppm, but the level in my Lelit is 2.43x that).
https://oehha.ca.gov/media/downloads/wa ... l82001.pdf
So it's still somewhat high, and I've seen a gazillion doctors but they don't understand what happened to me, so I hesitate to use it until I at least understand that. It may be normal for any machine with a stainless steel tank. I know that those guidelines are for tap water to be consumed in large quantities, whereas the amount you'd consume from an espresso and a little steam probably isn't so much.

The clear tube in my reservoir also seems to smell like the chemical used for dry cleaning, and the black plastic thing that holds the filter does too. The tube seems to be disintegrating-if I touch it, it leaves a sticky residue that is hard to remove. I ended up taking this stuff out of the reservoir, but I thought the little cone-shaped plastic screen that filters the water might be important, so I pinched it to make it slightly oval, and inserted it directly into the place where the water exits, and the friction will probably keep it in place. I doubt that is connected to the nickel, but it does seem to coincide with the experience of others here.