My machine isn’t producing espresso

There are four potential causes of this problem. If your safety valve has opened please skip to step 3. Otherwise, we recommend working through them in this order:

1. Low heating power

A lack of heat is the most common reason why a machine won’t produce coffee. Without sufficient heat, the pressure in the lower boiler won’t build to the required level at which the valve pin opens to release the water. 

The symptoms:

  • No coffee is produced, even after 8 minutes
  • Water boils in the upper chamber after 5 or 6 minutes
  • No water is coming out of the chimney
  • The safety valve is not opening

The solution

To resolve this issue, make sure your heating setup is correct:

– Electric or ceramic stove: Try increasing the heat to a higher setting.

– Gas stove: Use the heat exchanger plate (and check that it’s in good condition), use a gas ring with a diameter of around 3 inches and a high gas flow setting.

– Induction: induction stoves can be a little tricky, so please see here for additional advice.

– Heat exchanger plate: if you’re using the heat exchanger plate, please ensure that it’s in good condition and doesn’t appear to be delaminating or deformed. If it is, it won’t transfer heat effectively and will need to be replaced. To prevent this happening, be sure to take it off the heat when the machine has finished brewing, and never cool it down with water. If you need a replacement, they’re available to buy here.

2. Boiler o-ring out of its groove

This is a less common reason for why a machine won’t produce coffee, but it’s an easy one to miss. If water is able to leak from the lower boiler into the upper boiler, it’s not possible for sufficient pressure to build in the lower boiler, which means the internal valve pin won’t open and water isn’t able to reach the coffee. It also results in the upper boiler overflowing, which is what causes the splashing from the chimney.

The symptoms:

  • No coffee produced, even after 8 minutes
  • The machine was working fine and then suddenly stopped working, without any change to the way it is being heated.
  • Water boils in the upper chamber after 4 to 6 minutes
  • Some water is spurting out of the chimney
  • The safety valve is not opening

The solution:

This is a simple one to resolve. Just check to see if the boiler o-ring is seated correctly in its groove. If it’s not, put it back into place, and if it appears to be marked or damaged then we suggest you replace it. You will have received a spare with your machine, but if you no longer have this then additional o-rings can be purchased here

9Barista boiler o-ring

To prevent the boiler o-ring from becoming dislodged, be sure to lift/pull the pressure release tab on the safety valve before unscrewing the lower boiler. It won’t move far, but you’ll hear a hiss when you lift it as the pressure neutralises. Be sure to do this when the machine has naturally cooled or has been run under the cold tap.

9Barista pressure release tab

3. Coffee is ground too finely

If the coffee being used is too fine, it can prevent the water from the lower boiler passing through. 

The symptoms:

  • No coffee produced, even after 8 minutes
  • The machine was working fine and then suddenly stopped working, without any change to the way it is being heated.
  • Water boils in the upper chamber after 4 to 6 minutes
  • The safety valve is opening

The solution

To eliminate this as a possibility, run the machine without any coffee. If water appears in the portafilter, that means that your coffee was too fine previously. Simply use a coarser grind setting and you should be up and running again. If water doesn’t appear, see solution 4.


4. A blockage 

This one is very rare. It can happen if ground coffee is put into the boiler, if the machine is heavily overheated, or if there is significant limescale buildup. If there is a blockage, it’s likely to be in the boiler pipe.

The symptoms:

  • No coffee produced, even after 8 minutes
  • There may have been a gradual reduction in the flow rate of coffee in previous uses.
  • There is a build up of limescale in by boiler
  • The safety valve has opened (this won’t always be the case, but is a good guide)
  • The machine stopped working after overheating the machine (or after replacing the safety ring)

The solution:

If you think your machine may have a blockage and you’ve already followed step 3, we’d recommend descaling your machine – instructions on how to do this can be found here. This will tell us whether there is indeed a blockage present and will clear out any limescale which may be causing an issue. 

If descaling doesn’t help, the next step is to unscrew the boiler pipe and hold it up to the light to see if there’s any debris blocking the end. If there is, use a pin to dislodge and remove it, before screwing back into place. Tightening it with your fingers should be sufficient; turn until you feel resistance against the thermal break (the circular piece of black silicone rubber). 

9Barista boiler pipe

If the boiler pipe was clear, you’ll need to disassemble your machine so that you can check for a blockage inside the heat exchanger coil or around the valve pin; please follow these instructions (it’s simpler than it sounds!). If this doesn’t help, please email us at [email protected] and we can provide further assistance.