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I live in an area where we rarely get limescale forming in kettles and the like so I've not descaled Miss Silvia for the past 9 years. She's currently undergoing a complete strip down and rebuild. Steel frame at the powder coaters for a sand blast and re powder coating. Opened up the boiler for a "Look See" and found the pic below. 22g of nice flaky limescale. Boiler currently having a nice citric acid bath. Guess I'll be adding de-scale to my regular maintenance schedule
Espresso & boiler friendly water: Not all water that meets non-scaling parameters makes coffee that tastes nice. The shorthand answer is to find water with a bicarbonate level between 50-80mg/L as ion/bottled water label (as CaCO3 alkalinity this would be 40-60mg/L) for your espresso machine, that tastes nice. If your water is in this range and all your coffee tastes bad, change the water for different one but still in this range. Using a particular water that doesn't scale, but is of a make up/so soft that makes your coffee taste bad/low body isn't a great idea. Plus you generally want some bicarbonate & a pH over 6 to lessen the chances of corrosion. It's swings & roundabouts, very soft water won't scale but can cause corrosion, harder water is less likely to be corrosive, but more likely to scale. If Volvic tastes OK, no need to change. Volvic sits just outside of recommended spec for boiler care, but just outside, lots of folk will testify it's fine regarding lack of scaling. Waitrose Essentials Lockhills is smack bang in the middle of desired range, the only UK bottled water that is. Here's a link to UK bottled waters & mix ratios to achieve boiler friendly water... https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/187vd8fjVQGCrvaoEz071BoSEOl-IY3rTl0-fZXLGx1w/edit?usp=sharing Manual brewing Choices are much wider here, kettles are easier to descale if necessary. The make up of the water has no impact on objective extraction yield, you don't need high mineral content to extract the flavour. Water make up does change the taste of the coffee, so just use a water that doesn't ruin your coffee (this could still be Volvic or Lockhills if that's what you can easily get). You probably don't want your brew kettle scaling up if it has its own element, but if you get good brews with high mineral content water & your kettle & brewers are easy to clean/descale, then carry on. But bear in mind, high mineral content water usually also comes with high bicarbonate, which can flatten acidity and make the body seem overly chewy. I personally like to use very soft water at home for brewing, using a steel/glass kettle, because I like the taste & clarity (~GH 20mg/L & KH 20mg/L as CaCO3, such as Deeside, or Voss but it's very expensive, or a mix of Zerowater & tap). At work, or visiting friends & relatives, I use regular N Surrey tap water (hard). I still get some very tasty brews here, especially with long steep immersions. As an example of difficult water to brew with, I found the water in Menorca very hard to get a decent drip brew & had to use some bottled Estrella I, which is similar to Highland Spring in make up & the softest water I could reasonably find there.