Chris' Coffee says: Don't descale! - Page 4

Water analysis, treatment, and mineral recipes for optimum taste and equipment health.
User avatar
Compass Coffee

#31: Post by Compass Coffee »

another_jim wrote:I did not mention anion exchange or mixed bed softening (alkalinity removal or ion exchange demineralization) in the FAQ, since these were not available readily available. I only discussed cation softening (salt softeners) and reverse osmosis demineralization. Also, TDS meters were not cheap when I was writing the FAQ; except for salt softening, they are the easiest way to check water now.

Also, the descaling instructions in the FAQ, which make use of the pump to fill the boilers, are somewhat outdated; people have come up with better ideas. In particular, if the boilers have a drain, use them; if they do not, remove the vacuum breaker or tube of the steam valve and siphon the descaling solution in and out -- this method works for plumbed in machines, doesn't mess with the autofill circuitry, and doesn't send descaler through the pump. For double boiler machines without a drain on the brew boiler, I am inexperienced and not sure what method of filling and draining is best.
Time for a re-write! :lol:
Mike McGinness, Head Bean (Owner/Roast Master)


#32: Post by brianl »

another_jim wrote:Also, the descaling instructions in the FAQ, which make use of the pump to fill the boilers, are somewhat outdated; people have come up with better ideas. In particular, if the boilers have a drain, use them.
How would this generally be done? Drain, fill tank with descale solution, turn on and let sit, drain?

Do you still perform the soft water flushes of your boilers regularly or just annual or so descales?

Decent Espresso: espresso equipment for serious baristas
Sponsored by Decent Espresso
User avatar
Team HB

#33: Post by another_jim »

The drill of letting the descale solution sit overnight cold or a few hours hot is the same; the change is that removing a fixture and using a siphon is easier than using the pump.

Soft or distilled water flushes if you have hard water remains a good idea -- the more you steam, the better it is. If you are only doing shots, it is not necessary, since it counteracts the rising hardness inside steam generators.
Jim Schulman


#34: Post by F1 »

So the solution works the same when is cold or does it need to sit overnight to have the same effect as when hot for only an hour or so?

User avatar
Team HB

#35: Post by another_jim »

Yes; you can find many explicit instructions by googling the site.
Jim Schulman

User avatar

#36: Post by NeedBeans »

JohnB wrote:My well water is very similar to Dick's & I've been using the two cartridge (softener/carbon) generic set up CCS & others sell for over 7 years with my machines. I have excellent tasting well water that has spoiled me so I quickly added a hard water bypass to my set up as I was not at all fond of fully softened water. I keep the water in the 35-50ppm range & have had no problems with extraction.
John - So are you still using the CCS generic setup and rigged up your own bypass? If so, are you using a ball valve to control how much water bypasses the softener? Also, are you using any one-way check valves? I'm thinking that rigging up something like this is the way for me to go too. That way I can dial in the softening I need, deal with seasonal (and non-seasonal) municipality water source changes, etc. I just am not sure if a ball valve will give me the amount of control needed to adequately adjust.
"Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes." —Oscar Wilde

User avatar
Supporter ♡

#37: Post by JohnB. »

I am still using the generic CCS style set ups in 2 locations in my house. One in the kitchen which feeds into a cold water/drinking faucet & the water is used for my wife's hot water pot, drinking & cooking. There I use a standard John Guest shut off valve as the setting on that set up isn't as critical. On the filter set up under my coffeebar which feeds the Speedster, Bosco & a drinking faucet I use a manual mixing valve which allows a more precise adjustment. Both set ups have John Guest one way valves installed.

I buy all my filters from

La Marzocco · Home: customized for espresso aficionados
Sponsored by La Marzocco · Home

#38: Post by augkor »

So, I have now read Jim Schulman's Insanely long water FAQ and I am still confused about what to do.

I am in the process of setting up an under-sink water filtration system for a new Double Boiler that will be plumbed in. My water tests about 130-150 ppm hardness with a paper test strip. I would like not to have to descale often. Here is where I am confused. I assumed I would just plumb in on of the 10" cation water-softening cartridges along with a carbon filter running to my machine. However, I am thinking that this will bring my hardness down very low. It sounds like I need some hardness for the espresso to pull correctly. If I plumb in, how can I mix the right amount of hardness back into the water. JohnB indicates using a manual mixing valve, but I do not know where to get one and how that might work.

Can I just put the cation filter inline and leave it at that?

If not, what is the best way to get the water to the correct hardness when using an under-sink filter?

I would like to find a way to do this without spending as much for the water filtering system as for the espresso machine!

Thanks for all of your help and advice.


#39: Post by brianl »

if you're using a cation system, you shouldn't need to mix in tap water really. Jim's faq shows that there isn't much of a different between 100ppm hardness water and sodium softened water. Mixing tap water is usually for the hydrogen softened water that lowers alkalinity.

there is much debate on the hardness levels but nothing I've seen that's conclusive. however, like jim says, Chicago has water with 150ppm hardness and he uses the tap right in his machine and descales every two years.

User avatar
Supporter ♡

#40: Post by JohnB. »

This is the manual mixing valve that I use under my coffeebar: ... B001BO8TWA According to the description it has built in check valves so you shouldn't need to add a one way valve.

Adding a bypass is pretty easy if you are using John Guest tubing (3/8") & fittings. Add a JG tee to the line that feeds hard water into the softener cartridge & run a line into one of the mixing valve inlets. The line exiting the softener cartridge goes into the other inlet & then add a line from the valve outlet into your carbon cartridge. On the line coming out of the carbon filter you will want to install a tee so you can add a line with a shut off valve which you can use to thoroughly flush new filters & bleed off pressure from the line.