Most commercial-grade espresso machines rely on either an internal or external pump system to forcefully push shots of coffee through a filter at the speeds and pressures needed to create true espresso. But even if your pump is still producing shots of espresso, it may not be resulting in the delicious and full-bodied cup of coffee your customers expect. If you notice that your espresso shots are coming out thin, oily and dark, or if your customers start complaining about quality, it may be time to examine your pump for potentially necessary repairs.
Identifying the Problem
The most obvious sign of a coffee machine that is not generating enough pressure is a lack of crema in the finished shot. Crema is the final layer of rich brown foam that settles at the top of espresso and the most reliable sign of coffee quality. Crema will not form if the shot is poured too quickly or too slowly, which is dictated by the pressure produced by your pump. If your shots seem to be taking longer than usual to pour and never finishes with crema, you are likely dealing with a pump problem.
Checking Your Grind and Beans
Before you go calling a pump system repair specialist, however, it is helpful to rule out other issues that could cause similar symptoms. Beans that are more than a few weeks old quickly grow stale and will also not produce crema, and a very fine grind can present the same issue. Try pouring shots with your freshest beans on hand at a slightly coarser grind before settling on the pump system as the true culprit.
Looking for Clogs
In some cases, the pump in an espresso machine is fine, but it may have become clogged by wayward grounds or other materials. Deep cleaning the machine and visually inspecting its pump system may be enough to reveal a clogged line, which can then be cleaned according to manufacturer instructions. But clogs in a working espresso machine are relatively rare, and a blockage may still indicate that your pump in simply unable to clear its own lines at its current pressure output.
Repairing a Broken Pump
If none of these solutions have given you the results you need, it's time to call in a pump system repair service to examine your pump and attempt to find the problem. You may only need to replace a single part to return to full functionality, or an extensive overhaul may be needed for older machines. Either way, with the help of an expert repairman, you should soon be back to serving the quality of espresso that your customers demand, without the constant stress of attempting to correct your settings and drinks to compensate for a lack of pressure.