Reanimating espresso machine that has been in storage

Equipment doesn't work? Troubleshooting? If you're handy, members can help.

#1: Post by jimocallaghan »


First time poster on the forum, greetings from rainy Ireland. Seeing a lot of really interesting posts here and have a lot of reading to do, so thanks in advance for the great treasure trove of detail the forum members have already put together.

I'm hoping to get a steer to some relevant posts / advice relating to making an old machine safe for use - specifically around health & safety aspects. I'm handy enough with mechanics / electronics, but have recently come into possession of a 2 Group Sanremo Capri that had been in storage (almost fully drained, but not quite) for an indeterminate time after a cafe closure, the sale of said machine coincided with my old bean-to-cup Saeco machine packing it in.

I've no previous experience with espresso machines so apologies in advance if the Q seems very basic. The chassis shows some obvious signs of age, some rust which I'm cleaning out and applying some preventative coating to, the group heads look like they've never been cleaned, so I've also picked up some cafiza to backflush and clean. Now to get to the Q - having not used a plumbed-in machine before, I'm curious as to whether I should run some kind of detergent / cleaner through the tank to clean it out / maybe descale before first use, and the approach (fill normally with water, then switch supply to detergent added water source briefly and run through machine for a bit?). I want to ensure there's nothing that could make someone ill / bacteria etc. (or even worse, make the coffee not taste good!) in the tank.

I may have bitten off a little more than I expected as the more I dig into this area the more I realise I don't know, but I'm hoping to get some decent home coffee at some stage over the rainbow.

Many thanks,

Team HB

#2: Post by ira »

Cafiza is for cleaning the groups via backflushing and soaking the removable parts, commonly shower screens, though just replacing them might be recommended. If the boiler needs anything it would be de-scaling which requires some kind of acid, commonly citric acid or Dezcal which comes in a kilo or two bottle, don't buy the tablets or liquid, you'll need more than that. You'll want to make sure the water you feed is is properly treated if necessary, lots of info in the water forum.

I'd pull the sides, connect water, fill the boilers, see that the pump works and then see if it gets hot. Watch for leaks and then try flushing water through the group, steam, hot water and finally with a blind basket backflush with Cafiza and check the outflow into the drip tray to make sure it's clean, else repeat as necessary. If it passes all that, make an espresso. It's likely that the group gaskets and maybe some others will need replacing, If you can shine a light into the boiler you might be able to see if it need descaling, sometimes poorly maintained commercial machines are very badly scaled.

jimocallaghan (original poster)

#3: Post by jimocallaghan (original poster) »

Thanks Ira for taking the time for such a detailed reply - it's exactly the detail / sequence I was looking for. I'll post back in a little while once I've gone through those initial steps - hopefully won't find too many leaks / worn out gaskets - it's a shame I don't have more access to the recent history of the machine - with luck this currently ugly duckling will scrub up well.

Supporter ♡

#4: Post by Marcelnl »

Not trying to put you off, but did you consider the amount of power it'll use heating a 10L or so boiler?
LMWDP #483

jimocallaghan (original poster)

#5: Post by jimocallaghan (original poster) »

Hi Marceini, yes I think it might be more power hungry than I want to put up with long term, and won't exactly do much for my green credentials, but I might try it for a little while (maybe with a timer etc.) and see how I get on. It was going for a song, and the timing was just right for my last machine going kaput, so I may have gotten a bit giddy with the purchase - it's a nice looking machine in a kind of utilitarian way - I also picked up a Super Jolly grinder at the same time, again heavily discounted, so was more experimenting generally, coming from a complete novice / bean-to-cup type experience previously.

I wonder are there mods to reduce the tank size (the equivalent of putting a cavity block in old toilet cisterns etc.), or even swap out a smaller tank that can be leveraged to reduce the power footprint. I guess all the parts are probably coordinated to work optimally with each other, so I'll just get the old bird cleaned up and running first, and then see where it takes me (to my next mid-life crisis project probably). Not that it makes a huge difference, but I think the 10L tank is on the SanRemo Capri Delux follow up model rather than this non-Deluxe - not sure what the early model size is, but the increased tank size was advertised as being one of the improvements.


#6: Post by jyl »

I'm not familiar with the San Remo Capri, that is a make not seen much in the US, but in general I'm a fan of repairing and restoring commercial machines to use at home. They tend to be high quality, sturdy, and fast. They also make fine heaters, which might be perfectly okay in your climate. I have a two head commercial Elektra at home and in the rainy Portland climate, I've no problem leaving it on 24/7 to add just a bit of warmth to the room!
John, Portland OR
Vintage bicycles, Porsche/VW, cooking, old houses.