The Tassimo machine has long been one of the most trusted methods for making single-serve coffee. It’s a fast, convenient way to get a consistently great-tasting cup of joe.
Of course, like all kitchen appliances, Tassimos require ongoing maintenance – in this case specifically, that means that they need to be kept clean. If you neglect to clean your Tassimo regularly, you’ll notice a steady deterioration in taste; and, in the longer term, the machine may become unreliable and eventually stop working.
Let us be clear here: these machines are a great investment, and the fact that they need descaling is not a flaw. All coffee-making apparatus needs cleaning – from the £30 AeroPress (just plastic and rubber), to the £800+ Fracino Piccino espresso machine, to the coffeehouse-standard machines that cost upwards of £5,000.
The key to cleaning a Tassimo?
Going through the proper descaling routine.
Why descale in the first place?
Coffee machines like Tassimos and Nespressos are made up of many intricate components.
During the process of coffee-making, which of course involves water and (for some users) condensed milk, there is an unavoidable build-up of limescale, calcium deposits and other residue. This is fine in the short-term, but there comes a point when these build-ups prevent the machine from doing its best work, if you like.
Descaling takes care of this nasty hidden stuff and restores the Tassimo’s interior to how it should be, and is most effective when done preventatively as opposed to reactively. In other words, don’t wait until the machine actually starts playing up and producing subpar cups of coffee.
Knowing when it’s time to descale
This is easy. You don’t need a crystal ball, nor do you need to open up and inspect the bowels of your Tassimo.
You’ll know it’s time to descale when the machine’s red light comes on.
There’s nothing stopping you from descaling more regularly; you can carry out the process whenever you want, red light or not. But there’s no need to do that, because the machine is designed to know when, by keeping count of the number of cups it has made.
It depends how much you use your Tassimo. If you make four cups a day with it, it’ll need cleaning four times sooner than if you make just one cup a day.
Generally speaking, based on an average amount of use, Tassimo estimates that you’ll need to descale your machine around once every three months.
Soft water area vs. hard water area
Anyone from the North of England who’s visited the South knows just how much harder (chalkier) the water is down there. And vice versa: Southerners who venture north are in for a treat when it comes to tap-water quality.
So, surely, a Tassimo machine in an area of hard water will need descaling more often, right? Probably. Trust in the machine’s red light, but feel free to experiment if you like – all it means is that you’ll have to spend a few quid more on descaling tablets each year, but it literally is a matter of a few quid. Which brings us nicely on to the next section…
Using the right descaling tablets
Just like a good cup of coffee depends on the quality of the beans/grounds you’re using, a thorough descaling job depends on the quality of the tablets.
Another good analogy is dishwasher tablets. Have you ever switched brands (perhaps to a cheaper one) and noticed a downturn in the results?
The same principle applies to your Tassimo: there are descaling tablets, and then there are descaling tablets.
Official Bosch Tassimo tablets vs. challenger brands
As you’d hope, the official manufacturer (which has been Bosch since 2008) has its own line of descaling tablets. It makes sense, because without these deep cleans, the machine has no longevity.
That said, official or not, these Bosch-manufactured tablets are made up of nothing more than a combination of acidic compounds, and there’s no great secret to making such products.
As a result, you have several additional choices – many of them much cheaper, giving you more value (provided that the quality is there!).
For example, German brand WoldoClean has a tablet product that is designed to descale Tassimos, other coffee machines and even kettles. It has thousands of positive reviews on Amazon, and you can get 14 WoldoClean tablets for the same price as four Bosch tablets (and with the WoldoClean, you only need to use one per descaling cycle; whereas with the Bosch, you need to use two).
It’s ultimately up to you; just make sure you do your research and read reviews. Descaling is a necessary job but it’ll never be fun, so don’t make it any more tedious by investing in poor-quality tablets that do a bad job!
There are two parts of the process: the cycle prep, and then the post-cycle clean-up.
Cleaning cycle preparation
- Remove the water tank from your machine and fill it with fresh, cold water.
- Add the correct amount of descaling tablets to the tank. If you’re using the official Bosch variety, you’ll need two tablets, whereas challenger brands vary – check the instructions on the tablet packaging.
- Wait until the tablets have dissolved properly (regardless of brand). Don’t put the water tank back into the machine yet.
- Remove the service disc from the back of your machine and put it aside for now. This will probably be located behind where your water tank goes, and will either be yellow or orange.
- Put the water tank back as normal.
- Open the brew head as if making a cup of coffee, and place the service disc in there – barcode down – as though it is a coffee pod. If, for whatever reason, your service disc does not have a barcode, the side that should face down is the one with the raised surface. In other words, make sure the flat side is facing up.
- Close the brew head.
- Place a pint glass or some other large receptacle in the coffee-cup holder at the front of the machine. This will catch the water that comes out during the descaling process, so the receptacle in questions needs to be at least 500ml and, obviously, needs to fit nicely under there.
- Turn the machine on (if it isn’t already).
- Press down the descaling button (which should be lit up in red) for five seconds.
- Wait for the machine to start processing the cleaning cycle (you’ll hear it), and let it do its thing for 30 minutes.
That’s the prep done!
Once the orange stand-by light comes on, the cycle is finished. Now it’s time to clean up and get your Tassimo ready to deliver its next delicious cup!
- Take the receptacle – which should now be full of descaling solution – from the coffee-cup holder, and pour it down the sink.
- Put the receptacle back in the coffee-cup holder.
- Remove the water tank from the back of the machine, and give it a good rinse and a wipe with a clean cloth. The object of the wiping is not to get it dry, so don’t worry about that – it’ll be getting wet again shortly!
- Refill the water tank with fresh, cold water.
- Place the water tank back into the machine.
- Press the Start/Stop button as though making a cup of coffee. Let it run a cycle of water from the tank into the receptacle at the front.
- Empty the receptacle down the sink, and then put it back.
- Repeat this flushing process a few more times, by refilling the water tank and running another cycle through the machine. Do it three or four times. The object of this is to get rid of the descaling solution.
- Pull up the brew head and remove the service disc.
- Remove the water tank one last time, and put the service disc back in its place.
- Refill your water tank while it’s out, and then replace it.
- Make a cup of coffee now, if you like!
And there you are. It’ll never be exciting, but it’s easy once you’ve done it a couple of times.