Should I give up on my espresso machine?

My mom gave me an espresso machine for my birthday about five years ago. It’s a Mr. Coffee model ECM3. That thing was the only reason I made it through many an 8:30 AM Quantum Mechanics lecture, let me tell you.

After years of disuse, I got it out and tried to make myself a latte, and found it wasn’t functioning properly any more. A lot of steam comes out of the brew head, but it won’t deliver any water to the pot, and the steam from the steam arm seems pretty weak, too (though it never was very powerful). I followed the instructions in the manual and filled the pot with vinegar overnight, and then tried brewing a pot of vingear through, but this didn’t yield any discernable improvement.

I didn’t have the heart to pitch it yet, so I put it away. I got it out tonight, and thought, what the heck, I’ll give it a whirl, but if it doesn’t work right off the bat I’ll just pitch it. I put in 2 espressos worth of water in it, and started it up. Once it heated up, it didn’t seem to be doing much of anything, so I jiggled the knob around, switched it ot steam, etc., and suddenly it worked! The water that came out was almost white, though, so I set about sending a few more pots of water through to rinse it out and . . .

Well, no dice. It heated up, but all that came out of the brew cap was steam, no matter how I fiddled with the knob.

Is it time for the scrap heap, or is there something I can do to save it? I have some CLR, but all the user manual recommends is vinegar. Sould I try the tough stuff?

I just went through the same thing w/ a Mr. Coffee espresso machine. I did the vinegar routine and even tore the thing apart as much as was possible. I could not for the life of me find out what the problem was. Eventually, I realized that espresso makers are too cheap to worth that much angst, so i tossed it and bought a Krups.

Hmmm. That’s not heartening.

I filled the tank with vinegar, and let it soak overnight, and successfully ran a batch of vinegar through this morning. There was a lot of hard water deposits in the carafe when I was done, so I started a second batch of vingar, and it didn’t work. Lots and lots of steam, but only a dribble of vinegar from the brew head. Maybe it won’t work when it starts off warm?

I’ll try one more vinegar batch tonight. If it doesn’t behave, I’m throwing it out. It makes me sad, because, while it certainly isn’t a top-of-the-line machine, it was a very thoughtful gift from my mom.

This is a total shot in the dark, but here goes…

Any chance it needs a new gasket or two?

My stove-top Moka doesn’t work quite right if the gasket is old.
And in order to build up enough pressure yours probably needs an adequate seal. So if you see any rubber gaskets in your exploration of its parts, try replacing them?

I had two different Krups machines and neither worked properly. The first one made lovely espresso, but wouldn’t steam. And the second one steamed perfectly but made watery, bad espresso. They’re both back at Bed, Bath and Beyond and I’m back to using a French press. :frowning:

We’ve had our Starbucks Barista machine for nine years now and it’s still going strong. Mr. Pug bought it for my birthday, so I don’t know how much it cost. However, even if it was a bit more than a Mr. Coffee or other machines, I think the mileage we’re getting out of it makes it worth it. I even put it away once for a year when I was trying to break my caffeine habit, and it worked fine when I caved and got it out again. When this one finally goes south, we’re buying another Barista.

Yeah, I suspected a leaky gasket, and I started to take it apart, but I got intimidated. I undid about upteen screws and it was still more or less in one piece (but with lots of wires and stuff sticking out), so I gave up. Even if I found a bad gasket anyway, how easy would it be to get a replacement part? Not, I’m guessing.

They deliberately build these things so that it’s hard for the consumer to open them up, I’m pretty sure. They don’t want you to be able to fix it so that when the first little thing goes wrong, you’ll just throw it out and get a new one. I only plan to do step 1 of that, though, since I don’t drink much coffee these days.

Since it has sentimental value, keep the carafe and use it for other things.