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Breville Espresso Machine How-to & Troubleshooting Guide

Breville Espresso Machine How-to & Troubleshooting Guide

Breville is among the most popular manufacturers of a variety of automatic, semi-automatic, and manual espresso machines that make some of the best coffee flavors. All their espresso machines use the 4-key formula, upgrading every process from grinding to extraction and microfoam milk texture. However, the Breville espresso machine is not without fault.

Like other espresso coffee machine problems, the first step is to identify the symptom, the source of the issue and come up with possible troubleshooting steps. This guide will explain the most common Breville espresso machine problems and give you possible solutions to get your machine working correctly.

How to use a Breville espresso machine

The Breville espresso machine models are slightly different, but the concept is the same. Below is an easy guide to starting your Breville espresso machine.

  1. Plug the machine to power.
  2. Check the water level since the Breville espresso machine does not alert you on low water levels.
  3. Fill the water tank with cold water and insert the filter into the filter holder and lock the water tank into place.
  4. Press the power button and allow the machine to preheat for about 10-15 minutes before using it.
  5. Pour whole coffee beans into the hopper on top of the machine and close the lid.
  6. Adjust and set the grind amount you desire. The smaller the number, the finer the coffee grind size, and the larger the number, the coarser the grind. We recommend setting the grind size to five and adjust over time.
  7. Set the grind amount in the middle at the 3 o’clock position.
  8. Select the filter basket size that is, single or double.
  9. Insert the portafilter into the grinding cradle and press it gently until you hear the grinder working. The grinder will release the right amount of coffee to fill the portafilter.
  10. Press the grinder size button again to stop the grinding process.
  11. Use the razor provided with the machine to level and tamp the ground coffee in the portafilter to remove excess coffee.
  12. Connect the portafilter into the group head and place your coffee under it.
  13. Press the 1-cup button once to release 30ml of single espresso, and the machine will automatically stop once it extracts the preset volume.
  14. Press the 2-cup button to extract about 60ml of espresso into the cup. Check the pressure gauge to know the espresso extraction pressure depending on where the gauge needle points. When the gauge needle lands on the lower zone, it indicates the coffee beans have been under-extracted, but when the needle lands on the upper area, it suggests the espresso beans have been over-extracted.

How to clean a Breville espresso machine

You have to do a regular cycle clean and deep clean on your Breville espresso machine to avoid having stale and bland coffee and maintain the espresso machine in its best condition. The “Clean/Descale” light will come on to indicate that a cleaning cycle is due.

Every day cleaning

Clean the espresso machine at the end of the day to reduce the build-up of coffee grounds and prevent mold growth on wet surfaces. Here are the steps:

  1. Wipe the steam wand after every use.
  2. If you have a three-valve pressure model, perform a backflush to clear the pipes and system.

Weekly clean

  1. Fill the water tank with cold water.
  2. Insert an empty portafilter into the machine and run the water for a few seconds.
  3. Empty and rinse the filter, then repeat the process four times.
  4. When running the water the fourth time, jerk the empty portafilter and then rinse it.

Deep clean

Follow the steps below on how to run a deep cleaning cycle in your Breville coffee maker.

  1. Run an empty cycle to flush out any coffee or milk in the system.
  2. Insert the cleaning disk into the cup filter disk.
  3. Insert the filter basket into the portafilter.
  4. Put one cleaning tablet into the filter.
  5. Attach the portafilter to the group head.
  6. Turn the coffee machine off.
  7. Press and hold the “1-cup”, “2-cup,” and power buttons simultaneously for three seconds until the cleaning light flashes.
  8. The cleaning cycle will start and stop automatically.
  9. Remove the portafilter and make sure the cleaning tablet has completely dissolved.
  10. Rinse the coffee maker by running two to three cycles of clean water to remove any cleaning tablet residue.

Clean the steam wand, grinder, and filters.

Grinder: Empty the grinder and run the grinder under cold water to remove all the ground coffee. Use a soft brush to remove the coffee bean residue in the area where the grinder fits. Wipe off any coffee dust with a damp, lint-free cloth. Scrub the chute and crevices, then reconnect the grinder to the espresso machine.

Steam wand: Use a damp cloth to wipe down the exterior. Turn the wand tip to the drip tray and run steam for about 10 seconds. If there is no steam coming out, use the cleaning tool to unblock the wand. If the blockage is still there, soak the wand in hot water, pry out the jam with the cleaning tool, and turn the dial to steam again. Repeat this process until it is clear.

Filter basket and portafilter: Rinse the filter basket and portafilter under hot water and use the cleaning tool to unblock the filter. If there is still blockage, soak them in hot water for about 20 minutes, rinse and dry.

How to unclog a Breville espresso machine

The espresso machine works efficiently with regular care and maintenance because it is prone to clogging. When your machine has blocked, it prevents water from flowing from the group head, through the steam wand, and into the hot water spout. Flushing out your machine with water after every use and while the unit is hot will prevent the dirt from hardening in the system, making it harder to unclog it. Here is how to properly unclog your Breville espresso machine.

Clean the steam sleeve.

  1. Open the filter holder and empty all the coffee grounds from the filter.
  2. Lift the filter basket and rinse it thoroughly under cold water. Make sure there is coffee ground residue.
  3. Loosen the screw holding the steam valve in place and then pull down the steam valve to disconnect the sleeve.
  4. Clean the sleeve with a sponge in warm and soapy to remove dried milk and then rinse it thoroughly and allow it to dry.

Run a steam cycle.

  • Fill a cup with cold water and insert the steam wand in the frother.
  • Turn the steam knob to “Steam” and let the water froth for a couple of seconds. Then, insert the cleaning tool inside the steam nozzle and scrub off any dried milk if it does not steam.

Clean the brew unit and permanents filter.

  • Disconnect the waste unit from the machine and hold the brew unit handle.
  • Press and hold the release button and pull out the brew unit.
  • Clean brew unit with warm water and a sponge.
  • Wipe the permanent filter in the funnel with a damp cloth to remove coffee residue.
  • Allow all the parts to air dry, then return the funnel and brew unit into the espresso machine.

How do I reset my Breville espresso machine?

Resetting your Breville espresso machine will return all the saved settings to the default settings. To reset your Breville coffee machine, press and hold the program button until the espresso machine beeps three times, then release the button. The espresso shot volumes and temperature settings will return to default.

You can also reset it by setting the machine on standby, unplug it from the power outlet and then plug it back in after a few minutes.

How to descale a Breville espresso machine

Descaling the espresso machine is different from the cleaning cycle because descaling involves using a descaling tablet to remove limescale deposits from the espresso machine. Breville recommends descaling the espresso machine every 60 to 90 days, depending on the area’s water hardness.

  • Water hardness 6 = 60days (2 months)
  • Water hardness 4 = 90days (3 months)

Here is a detailed guide on how to descale your Breville espresso machine:

  1. You will see the ‘Clean/Descale’ light on when it is time to descale the espresso machine.
  2. Disconnect the water tank and empty the water into a sink.
  3. Remove and put aside the water filter from the water tank to avoid filtering the descaling chemical.
  4. Dissolve one Breville descaling powder sachet into one liter of water, then fill the water tank with cold water.
  5. Reattach the tank to the coffee maker.
  6. Turn the machine on, then press and hold the 1-cup button and the power button simultaneously to start the descaling process, which will take about 25 seconds.
  7. When the descaling process is complete, the 1-cup button will turn on.
  8. Turn the steam wand towards the drip tray and run the machine.
  9. After descaling the system, remove the water tank and rinse it thoroughly to remove any descaling powder residue.
  10. Fill the water tank with clean water, put back the water filter, and return the water tank to the machine.
  11. Repeat step six several times to flush out all the chemical residue.
  12. Press the power button to stop the descaling process, and the LED lights will switch off.

Why is my Breville espresso machine not working?

If your Breville espresso machine is running, but no coffee is coming out of the group head, there could be a blockage, or the grind setting could be wrong. Here is how to fix both problems.

Blockage in the group head

To fix the issue, backflush the machine periodically to avoid blocking the solenoid valve and causing it to malfunction. In a home setting, you should backflush your espresso machine without chemicals once a week and after 200 shots with chemicals, depending on what comes first. In a commercial environment, you should backflush at the end of every business day. Backflushing is cleaning the brew group, shower screen, and three-way valve; follow the steps below to backflush your Breville espresso machine properly.

  1. Disconnect the portafilter from the machine and remove the filter basket and replace it with a backflush disc.
  2. Put the backflush cleaner into the basket.
  3. Return the portafilter into the brew group and press the 2-cup button.
  4. After about 20-30 seconds, the machine will become quiet due to pressure build-up and then switch it off.
  5. After the cycle is complete, remove the portafilter and make sure the tablet fully dissolves. If not, repeat the process several times without adding any cleaner.
  6. Rinse the portafilter thoroughly before filling it with coffee for your subsequent use.

Grind setting problems

When the machine is not dispensing any coffee, the grind setting could be too fine or too much coffee in the basket. To solve this, you need to adjust the grind size and amount.

Grind size.

  1. Locate the grind size locator that goes 1(very fine) to 16(very coarse.
  2. Set the grind size to five, but you can adjust over time. The coffee grind should be fine for good espresso shots but not too fine that it’s powdery.

Grind amount

  1. Locate the knob at the front of the machine that adjusts the grind amount.
  2. Turn the knob counterclockwise to reduce and clockwise to increase the grind amount.
  3. Set the grind amount at the 3 o’clock position and adjust if necessary.
  4. To test if the change has worked, try to pull a shot.

Breville espresso machine not pumping water

To fix an espresso machine that’s not pumping water, you need to follow the flow of water first to identify the source of the blockage. Here is how to troubleshoot your espresso machine to get its water pump working again.

  • When the Breville espresso machine refuses to pump water, it means the machine is vapor-locked. Vapor locking happens when you prime the machine immediately after it becomes hot. The hot air in the boiler creates pressure on the pump, therefore, blocking the water passage. To fix the issue, you need to prime the espresso machine flowing the steps below to force the water pump to draw water from the wank into the boiler system.
  • Fill the water tank with filtered water.
  • Place a cup under the brew and steam wand.
  • Turn on the power button and open the steam wand knob.
  • Let t sit for two minutes and then press the brew button and allow it to run for two minutes.
  • Turn off the brew button, allow the steam wand to stay open for two minutes, and turn off the machine.
  • After several minutes, run a cycle to test if the espresso machine is pumping water.
  • Check the incoming water to the machine. Make sure the line is not blocked or has kinks. Check the line coming from the espresso machine and into the filter, and if it has a kink, you can gently straighten it or replace it.
  • Check the valves in the machine. The Breville espresso machine has a solenoid valve that controls water flowing through the brew head. The valve opens when you engage the group head. Push the brew button, and if you hear a click, it means the valve is engaging correctly. If there is no click, the solenoid valve is stuck closed and needs replacing.
  • Dirt and debris from the water supply can clog the system in the coffee machine and prevent water from reaching the group head. The Breville espresso machine has many water lines with gigleurs, small metering jets inside the pipes that control the water flow rate. Dirt and debris will build up over time and clog these gigleurs and block water flow.
  • Check the filter for blockage and needs replacing. If you grind your coffee too finely, the filter will block easily and restrict water flow.
  • If you have not descaled your espresso machine for a while, limescale may be clogging the water pump. Descale your espresso machine to clear out the limescale deposits that might be jamming the water pump.

Breville espresso maker is not building pressure.

When preparing espresso, you need a significant amount of pressure and temperature to get more flavor. The ideal pressure for espresso should land the pressure gauge needle within the solid gray area. Low pressure means the water passes through the ground coffee in the portafilter too quickly, causing the coffee extraction process to be quick, resulting in weak or sour-tasting espresso. Here is how to troubleshoot the issue.

  • First, you need to test if the pump in the espresso machine is working correctly. Insert the pressurized basket into the portafilter without the beans and press the 1-cup button to run the machine. Check the pressure gauge when the espresso machine is running and ensure it is on nine bars without the coffee beans. If the pressure is lower, the pump may not be getting enough water, or it could be faulty and needs replacing. If the pressure is above nine bars, you need to change the variables when making your espresso to increase the pressure.

How to increase pressure on a Breville espresso machine

  • Change the grinder to a more refined setting. When the ground size is too coarse, the water goes through the grounds too fast and doesn’t build enough pressure to produce a good shot. We recommend setting the grind size to five; however, you may need to adjust the grind size from time to time.
  • Increase the amount of coffee. For a single shot of espresso, you should pour 8-10grams of ground coffee and 15-18 grams for a double shot of espresso.
  • Increase the pressure when tamping. Tamping will make loose coffee grounds into a tightly compressed and evenly dispersed puck inside the portafilter. To tamp correctly, grind the coffee bean finely and level the coffee grounds in the portafilter with your finger or Breville tamper. Tamp the ground coffee twice, apply light pressure the first time to form a puck shape, and use more force and press the ground coffee heavily the second time to remove any remaining air gaps between the grinds. Twist the tamper before pulling it out to keep your coffee grinds more level.

Keep in mind that if you don’t use enough tamping pressure, the pressure during the extraction process will be too low. And if you use too much tamping pressure, the pressure during the extraction process will be too high.

Breville espresso machine not heating up.

When your espresso machine I running but stops heating, there is usually a problem with the switch, control board, thermal fuse, or thermostat. Here is how to troubleshoot it.

Check the power switch.

The power switch can wear out with time or from a power surge, and it will not turn on your espresso machine. Unplug the espresso machine and replace the switch.

Blown fuses

Fuses are for safety, the trip when the heating element in the espresso machine becomes overheats. If the espresso machine is not heating, but the thermostat is working, the thermal fuse could be the issue and requires replacing.

Defective control board

A faulty control board is likely the issue if the espresso machine does not turn on and heat up. Click the buttons on the espresso machine and if it does not respond, replace the control board making sure to reconnect the wires correctly.

Faulty thermostat

The thermostat in your Breville espresso machine measures and directs the heat of a specific temperature through the elements. When it exceeds this temperature, the thermostat signals the espresso machine to shut off. Check if the thermostat is in the on position, and if the dial has stuck in the off position, you need to replace it.

How to reduce pressure on a Breville espresso machine

If the pressure gauge needle lands on the lower side of the solid gray area, which is under nine, it means the espresso machine is working harder to pass through the coffee grinds and creating more pressure. It causes the coffee extraction process to take too long and produce acidic and bitter-tasting coffee. To reduce the pressure:

  • Adjust the grind size to a coarser setting.
  • Apply less pressure with tamping your grind.
  • Reduce the amount of coffee.

How to clean a Breville espresso machine grinder

Regularly cleaning the grinder and burrs allows for consistent grinding results. Follow the instructions below on how to clean it and clear any blockages.

  1. Open the hopper lid and remove any coffee beans remaining.
  2. Replace and lock the hopper and then run the grinder to remove any grinds in the system.
  3. Remove the hopper to access the grinder.
  4. Use a shop vac to remove the ground residue on the outside of the grinder where the hopper sits.
  5. Remove the top burr by lifting and turning the metal handle counterclockwise. You may have to use more force to pull out the burr if it has gummed up to the grinder.
  6. Use a small brush or a burr brush to remove the coffee grinds from the burr, making sure all the corners and crevices are clear.
  7. Vacuum the inner section of the grinder.
  8. Align the burr into the grinder, turn it clockwise to lock it in place, and push the metal handle down.
  9. Replace the hopper on top and lock it in place, then place the lid.

How to make a latte with a Breville espresso machine

A latte is a single espresso shot with textured milk and about 10mm of foam. We will teach you how to make a good latte with your Breville machine.

Things you need

  • Coffee espresso beans
  • Milk
  • A latte cup of 200-220 ml
  • Additional toppings like syrup


  1. Preheat your espresso cup to prevent your espresso shot from getting cold while frothing your milk.
  2. Pour your espresso coffee beans into the hopper and grind them.
  3. Tamper the ground coffee and connect it to the brew head.
  4. Run a double shot of espresso for your latte, but if you want a weaker coffee flavor, you can do a single espresso shot.
  5. Pour your milk of choice into the frothing pitcher.
  6. Turn on the steamer, the espresso buttons will go off, and the stem light will start flashing. Wait until you see steam coming out of the machine.
  7. Insert the steam wand about half an inch into the milk in the pitcher and steam it. The ideal milk temperature should be  150°F. Anything above that will burn the milk and ruin the milk’s natural sweetness and flavor.
  8. Wipe the exterior of the steam wand, run steam for a few seconds to prevent milk from drying inside the steam wand.
  9. Hold your cup with the espresso and slowly pour your steamed milk, making sure the milk flows out first and the froth follows and settles at the top.

How to steam milk with a Breville espresso machine

Follow the steps below to steam your milk correctly with your Breville espresso.

  1. Position the steam wand tip over the drip tray.
  2. Rotate the steam dial to the steam position, and the steam light will start flashing when the machine is heating to create the steam.
  3. When the stem light stops flashing, the steam wand is ready for use.
  4. Rotate the steam dial to the standby position to avoid splashing the milk out of the jug.
  5. It is normal to hear the espresso machine make a pumping noise when producing steam.
  6. While the steam wand is in standby mode, insert it about half an inch into the milk and turn the steam dial to the steam position to start texturing the milk.
  7. When the milk’s temperature gets to about 100°F (when you feel it’s hot on your hand), insert the steam wand deeper into the milk.
  8. After five minutes of continuous steaming, the espresso machine will automatically turn off the steam.
  9. If your model does not turn off automatically, turn the steam dial to the standby position when the milk becomes too hot to touch and remove the jug.
  10. Clean off the steam wand with a damp cloth and run the steam for about three seconds to push out any milk inside the steam wand.
  11. The ideal textured milk should look like glossy white paint.

How do you change a Breville water filter?

The water filter in your espresso machine reduces limescale build-up inside the machine. You should replace the filter for your Breville espresso machine every two to three months, depending on how hard the water supply in your area is.

  1. Unpack the new water filter and soak it in a cup of filtered water for five minutes.
  2. Rinse the filter under cold running water.
  3. Take out the water tank from the espresso machine and remove the old water filter.
  4. Clean the water filter holder with cold water and rinse it.
  5. Insert the new water filter between the two parts of the filter holder.
  6. Line up the base of the filter holder with the adapter inside the water tank and push it to lock it into place inside the water tank.
  7. Fill the tank with cold water and reassemble it into the espresso machine.
  8. Run one cleaning cycle to reset the filter indicator light.

Check this too: Sowtech Espresso Machine How to & Troubleshooting Guide


The Breville espresso machine is among the most durable ones in the market, but it will occasionally develop issues. However, most problems are simple and easy to fix once you identify the source of the problem. We hope this article will help you learn how to use the machine and essential troubleshooting tips.