Breville Espresso Machine – Lights Flashing. How To Reset?

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Approximately 50% of the American population consumes at least a cup of coffee daily. This figure amounts to around 150 million Americans, most of whom take their first cup at home. A Breville espresso machine is a perfect appliance to help you enjoy your first cup of joe of the day, but what does it mean if the lights are flashing? 

Your Breville espresso machine’s lights are flashing because the machine is dirty or clogged, it needs a cleaning or descaling cycle, or the steam wand is clogged or dirty. You can fix this by cleaning the machine, running a descaling cycle, or cleaning the steam wand.

Breville espresso machines come programmed with various flashing light alerts for different issues. Depending on the Breville espresso machine model, a different set of lights will flash, indicating a different problem. This article will discuss the common issues caused by a Breville espresso machine’s lights flashing, and how to fix them. 

1. The Espresso Machine Is Dirty or Clogged

When your Breville espresso machine has flashing lights, it often indicates that it needs to be cleaned. Cleaning your espresso machine on a regular basis helps to keep it working efficiently and ensures it will last you for many years. 

Running your machine through a clean flush cycle is an excellent place to start to keep it free from dirt and prevent clogging. However, you should also perform other essential maintenance regularly. 

Read: How To Fix Breville Espresso Machine Frother Not Working – Troubleshooting Guide

How To Fix?

Most espresso machines, including Breville models, come with a cleaning kit to help you resolve this flashing light. These kits often contain cleaning tablets and disks to help you perform a  cleaning cycle but you may also require a cleaning tool and brush. You can buy these from big box stores or online.

The cleaning tablets remove oil and coffee ground residue, and are manufactured using food-grade ingredients, making them safe for your espresso machine, and they do not corrode the internal parts. 

It is important to read the instructions carefully before using these tablets, as some may not be compatible with your machine, especially off-brand tablets.

You can use a cleaning disk when you run a flushing cycle. Place it in the center of the portafilter, and backflush the machine with it. 

Pro tip: Most flashing lights indicate a cleaning problem, and you must be careful which lights indicate which issue. Knowing the difference can save you a lot of time and effort, and I’ll discuss the other flashing lights issues in the rest of the article. 

Read: Why Breville Espresso Machine Not Grinding – Troubleshooting Guide

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2. “1 Cup and 2 Cups” Lights Flashing

When you notice “1 cup and 2 cups” flashing on your Breville Espresso machine, it means that the machine requires a cleaning cycle. Your espresso machine will need a clean after brewing 200 espressos but it can vary, depending on your machine type.  

With regular use, your espresso maker can accumulate minerals from the water you use. While not harmful, these deposits may affect your machine’s performance, temperature, and water flow. It can also impact the espresso’s flavor.

How To Fix?

Follow these steps to perform a cleaning cycle on your Breville espresso machine:

  1. Place a compatible cleaning disk into the filter basket in the portafilter. Thisis a spoon-shaped device attached to the group head and holds the coffee beans.
  2. Place a single cleaning tablet in the appropriate indent on the cleaning disk.
  3. Carefully but firmly lock the portafilter into the group head to ensure it’s secured in place.
  4. Remove any residue on the drip tray and put it back into the machine. Place a 68 fl oz (2,011 ml) container on the drip tray, which is located under the portafilter and steam wand.
  5. Remove and fill the water tank, being careful not to go beyond the ‘MAX’ line. Place it back into the machine.
  6. Put your machine into cleaning cycle mode by pressing both the “1 cup” and “2 cups” simultaneously for at least 5 seconds.
  7. The lights should remain lit, and you can press either of them to start cleaning. They will flicker and flash while cleaning is in progress.
  8. After the cycle is complete, the machine will revert to ready mode, and you can remove, rinse, and replace the portafilter, cleaning disk, and drip tray.

3. “Milk Temperature and Milk Foam” Lights Flashing

When the “milk temperature and milk foam” lights flash, it means the machine’s steam wand needs cleaning. The steam wand heats and froths the milk used by the machine, is connected to the heating vessel, and is put into steaming mode to work.

Over time, the wand can become clogged with milk residue, causing malfunctioning and reducing the quality of your espresso. For example, you may notice that your espresso machine is dispensing the coffee slowly or intermittently because of the clogged wand. 

When these lights flash, experts recommend cleaning the steam wand by hand, and if it persists, running a complete steam cycle.

Read: Why Breville Espresso Machine Not Heating Up – Troubleshooting Guide

How To Fix?

Below is a step-by-step guide on how to clean your machine’s steam wand with the steam cycle:

  1. Using a compatible cleaning tool, insert the cleaning pins into the steam wand’s holes.
  2. Move the pins around gently to eliminate any residue. 
  3. If there are no blockages, you can rinse the steam wand with water, and replace it. This method often fixes the problem.
  4. If there are blockages, open the steam wand tip using the spanner in the middle of the cleaning tool.
  5. Soak the tip in hot water for at least 10 minutes and reuse the cleaning pins to prod the steam wand’s holes. Avoid using boiling water, as this could damage some of the parts. 
  6. Repeat this process until the steam wand is completely clean. Consider seeking professional help if the above steps don’t work.

4. “2 Cup Button” Lights Flashing

The ‘2 Cup Button’ lights indicate that the machine needs a descaling cycle. Descaling removes hard mineral deposits, such as calcium or limescale that accumulate if you regularly use hard water to prepare your espresso products. 

Descaling allows your machine to extract coffee grounds efficiently, and helps improve your espresso’s flavor.

You should descale your espresso machine every 200 uses or twice a year, whichever comes first. The frequency may vary depending on whether you use soft or hard water when brewing coffee in your espresso machine. 

Read: Do Coffee Machines / Makers Need A Backflow Preventer?

How To Fix?

You can descale your espresso machine by adding some descaling solution to the water in the reservoir and flushing it down the machine. 

Here’s how to descale your Breville Espresso Machine effectively: 

  1. Remove the drip tray, empty it, and return it to the machine.
  2. Add water and descaling solution to the water tank and fill it to the “DESCALE” line.
  3. Place a 68 fl oz (2l) container on the drip tray under the portafilter and steam wand.
  4. Press the “2 Cup and Steam” buttons simultaneously for at least 5 seconds to start the descale cycle.
  5. The lights will flash, and the descaling mode will be active until the machine uses all the water in the reservoir.
  6. Remove the water reservoir, rinse it well, fill it to the MAX line with clean water, and Return it to the machine.
  7. Remove the 68 fl oz container on the drip tray, empty it, and return it under the machine.
  8. Press the “2 Cup” button to start the rinse cycle, and refill the  water reservoir using the brewer.

Pro tip: You can reduce scale build-up on your espresso machine by using soft water to brew your beverage. This is especially important if you live in an area with hard water. Alternatively, you can connect your water source to a water softener to extract the calcium and magnesium that cause limescale build-up.

Read: Why Breville Espresso Machine Not Pumping Water? – Troubleshooting Guide

Summary

Most Breville espresso machines have automatic cleaning, steaming, and descaling cycles. However, if the lights are flashing, you should perform a manual cleaning or descaling cycle. 

A cleaning or descaling cycle only takes a few minutes but your espresso may have more flavor afterwards. As a general rule of thumb, you should perform a manual cleaning or descaling cycle after making 200 espressos, or every six months, whichever comes first.

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