Tips, Techniques, and Advice on Priming Your Espresso Machine Pump

For home espresso machines that shake rattle and roll, but produce no water, sometimes your pump runs dry. This could be the first time you start the machine up or it could be the time you left the machine standing for a few weeks. For some reason, its dry.

How do you know its dry?

When you try to make an espresso OR you try to get some water/steam from the steam wand you get a funny noise. Its a rattling sound, the pump sounds louder than it usually does. But more importantly no water comes out.

There is a simple cure…re-prime your machine.

How to Prime Your Espresso Machine

Step 1

Turn your machine off. Put your steam wand over your drip tray.

Open the lid off the water reservoir and look for the intake pipe. Remove the water filter, if attached.

Step 2

You have two options now.

Either put the pipe into a container, that is above the machine OR use a turkey baster or a ketchup bottle to force water down the tube.

While doing this move on to Step 3…

Step 3

Turn the machine on.

Open the steam wand and hit the brew button!

The pump should now be running, after a few moments (not more than 30 seconds) the water should ‘catch’ in the pump and will come out of the steam wand.

The pump is now primed.

If it’s not catching, make sure that there is water in the intake pipe and that the pipe is higher than the machine or you are applying pressure via the turkey baster / ketchup bottle.


If you know the machine is dry, do not leave it on.

When priming, make sure you only turn it on when you need to and then only for a minute or two.

Leaving it on for a period of time can damage the machine.

Graphics by Josh Ponelat, © Ask the Experts LLC. All rights reserved.

About Mike Quinn

Mike Quinn spent 20 years in the US Army and traveled extensively all over the world. As part of his military service, Mike sampled coffee and tea from all virtually every geographic region, from the beans from the plantation of an El Salvadorian Army Colonel to "Chi" in Iraq to Turkish Coffee in the Turkish Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. He spent nearly a decade in the Republic of Korea where he was exposed to all forms of traditional teas. Mike formerly owned and operated Cup And Brew, an online espresso and coffee equipment retail operation.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.