coffee machine failures

The Most Common Coffee Machine Failures and How to Avoid Them

Lots of us have spent a lot of time and money coming up with our ideal coffee setup. If you’re a real aficionado of the very best coffee equipment, you might have researched everything from the best grinder to the best coffee machines, as well as the best beans.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t always stop things from going wrong. There’s every chance that over time a coffee machine might develop faults.

Fortunately, you can usually find a fix. Coffee machines can be repaired and plenty even have YouTube tutorials to help you to work out how to replace a filter or even fix a part of your machine.

In this guide, we want to focus on hopefully not reaching that stage. If you can manage to keep your coffee machines in the best possible condition then there is every chance that it will last a lot longer, and that issues won’t crop up.

Let’s dive into common reasons for your coffee machines to fail, and how to avoid them.

Coffee Machine is Leaking

Probably the most common issue of all is the coffee machine springing a leak, and there are a few reasons why this can happen.

Commonly, coffee machines start to leak because they have clogged somewhere along the line. Starting with the origin of the leak, try to trace where the water is actually coming from. It could be the case that you simply need to descale. Blockages are common if you don’t regularly descale, especially in “hard water” areas. Regular filter changes and descaling are the best way to avoid this.

No Power

A quick check of the electronics could be in order. Is the machine switching on? Does it require a little more intensive maintenance? Keep in mind the fact that water and electricity don’t mix. We don’t recommend going about making changes unless you know exactly what you are doing.

Steam Arm Blockages

If you have a steam arm for steaming milk then this is a very common issue. A blockage usually comes from not properly cleaning the steam arm after use. Check the manufacturer instructions, but usually, you should look to perform a short, sharp “burst” on the steam arm to clean it out after each use, and make sure there is no residue.

Steam arms also need to be regularly cleaned, which is something many people forget to do when they are at home.

Grinder Malfunction

You may only be able to tell from the taste of your coffee changing slightly, or you may be able to tell by the look of the coffee.

Grinders are often prone to getting tiny parts of coffee residue stuck in them, preventing the mechanism from working properly. From time-to-time, it is worth performing a real deep clean on the grinder, which might mean taking it apart in the process.

Blades of grinders do sometimes need to be replaced, but in the majority of cases the grinder stops working due to residue.

Coffee Not Extracting Properly

If the coffee machine isn’t extracting the coffee properly, espresso shots will taste weak. The problem is usually to do with the pressure of the coffee machine, and within the water supply. If your machine allows you to check the pressure then this is a good way to diagnose the issue.

However, coffee not extracting due to the pressure being low can usually be avoided by taking care to descale regularly and keep the pipes within the machine in good condition.

The Coffee Tastes Bad

This is a very broad issue that a lot of coffee machines do develop eventually. This failure could be down to a number of different reasons. Without specifically diagnosing the problem it is hard to repair, but you can certainly reduce the chances of the coffee quality getting worse over time by performing a few simple maintenance steps.

  • Don’t leave coffee in the reservoir for too long. A lot of machines have somewhere to keep coffee warm, it is easy to forget about and leave the coffee to get mouldy.
  • Regularly clean all the components. Some are even dishwasher safe so there is very little excuse for not keeping it clean.
  • Replace filters as required. Your machine will require that you regularly change aor clean a filter.
  • Descale as recommended by the manufacturer. Most coffee machine makers will tell you how regularly to perform maintenance. Some can last up to 5000 brews before they need descaling.
  • Filter the water first, if required. In particularly hard water areas then it might be a good idea to filter water before it is used in the machine at all.


Nobody can pretend that cleaning out a coffee machine is good fun. It’s something that you do have to do if you want to keep your machine in the best possible condition and reduce the chances of failure and breakages cropping up. Make sure you follow the tips above and keep a close eye on your machine.