Sunday, October 12, 2008


I've been meaning to set up this blog for a long time.

Several years ago I needed to replace my coffee maker. I was directed to It not only convinced me to purchase a Capresso MT500 and a good grinder, it convinced me to purchase an espresso machine. I ended up with a Starbucks Barista. I threw out a lowball bid on an auction that spelled Espresso wrong and put it in the commercial area. I got it cheap.

It also didn't work.

In the end I got my money back and had a broken machine to play with. I played around with the pump, got it running and was thrilled. I wrote up an acceptable, but not notable web page to share my experience. I purposely placed it in a place search engines wouldn't find it. I posted the page in a thread (ULKA EX5 pump rebuild) on Coffee Geek as a way to partially pay back what I had received from the website.

Now, my obscure thread has been linked to enough, I wanted to update things and make it easier to find. This blog is the result.

I'm taking the various e-mails I've received over the years and publishing them here. They show me that no matter how obscure the subject matter, there are people interested. Thanks to everyone that's taken the time to send me any responses.


lnp00 said...


Well, I thought I was able to save a few bucks when I came across your site; with such fabulous instructions how could I go wrong.
I took the pump apart, soaked the bits in descaling solution, re-assembled the pump and machine but... no joy.
I do have a few questions:
1. you mentioned the 'red' wire was on the middle, mine is on the right-hand side when looking at the intake valve, could this be an issue?
2. re: the stainless 'plunger' that sits in the plastic tube... is it a tight fit or should it slide freely?


Jim said...

Thanks so much for posting this. The instructions gave me the courage to try to get my Brio running again.

I used a little silicon to lube the plunger after soaking and cleaning all the bits. Also used pipe tape on the male threads on the output connection to keep things from leaking. And now it is working great.


transgenic452 said...

While your excellent post is informative it is improperly classified as "REBUILD" instructions.

You did not REBUILD the disassembled, cleaned, and reassembled. You "repaired" your pump.

For those who need to actually REBUILD their pump, your post is of limited value.

REBUILD conventionally means you obtained and REPLACED at least 1 new or refurbished component in an assembly.

A set of REBUILD instructions also usually includes original and alternative sources and/or P/Ns with which to obtain replacement components within an assembly.

R Schiffman (Brownbag) said...

@transgenic452: I'll leave your worthless post up just for the comic value. I'm pretty sure the name of this blog is "Ulka Pump Repair" and always has been. Even so, the word rebuild is used a lot. Apparently you have too much time on your hands and find joy in being pedantic.
For the rest of those that come here. This is nothing more than it purports to be. My experience taking a broken Ulka pump, cleaning it and making it work again. I don't offer more than that. Despite what little it claims to be, it still appears to be about the only useful resource for helping people realize they might be able to repair a broken pump, and it's not that scary.

Jana and Orline said...

One more thing - I did measure the small plastic ball, it is about 2.5 mm i diameter, to stay on the "left" side of the spring (on the picture), it should be really bigger.

Brian said...

Good post with nice photos. Followed the instruction but no joy. Had to buy replacement pump from Saeco Outlet. Exploded view diagram is how I got the part number and the diagram is helpful for reassembly. I found it here

R Schiffman (Brownbag) said...

@Brian. Sorry to hear that. Thanks for the link.

Col the Troll said...

I hope the following might be helpful to some people:

My machine (a Krups XP4020) had a Ceme E50501 pump, which seems to be identical to the Ulka with a couple of exceptions:
1. Instead of the flanged plastic part and retaining screws, there is a crimped metal sleeve which, unfortunately, I could not remove without damage, so couldn't get to the internal piston / springs.
2. The electrical connections are reversed! This one had me stumped for a while when I replaced the Ceme pump with the Ulka one, since it shouldn't matter which way round you connect an AC voltage (or so I thought!).

For readers in the UK, the best price I could find for the Ulka pump was GBP17.20 here

Thank you for a great blog!

Kirby said...

Wow! what a nice job with the pics, website, and explanation of what does what. I'm going to try to fix our Barista in the next couple days. I'll check back with you on the results. Thanks again.

Kirby said...

I also appreciate your point of making things air-tight which I suspect is some of my problem

Anonymous said...

I have a Saeco Via Veneto that lost pump pressure to the point that it couldn't pump through a pressurized portafilter. I disassembled the pump and everything seemed good so I reassembled it and it still didn't work.

While running the unit with the "hood" up, I saw bubbles at the silicone line that comes off just before the frother valve, and bubbles coming up in the reservoir. It turned out that the contraction valve for cool down with its highly sprung plastic ball was not seating and allowing heated water to flow in the reverse direction back into the reservoir.

The plastic ball had a visible indent from the brass seat and it needed to be realigned to its original worn position to close the valve properly and hold pump pressure. By holding the spring compressed and blowing through the valve, the right position of the ball could be verified.

After reassembling with some teflon tape on the threads, without which it spewed heavily, the machine is back to its full pressure.

Steve said...


Thanks a million for your post concerning the Ulka pump repair. The fix worked perfectly the Estro Profi (white) I bought at an estate sale for $35. I am *not* mechanically inclined, but your thorough instructions steered me thought the whole teardown, cleaning and reassembly. You're a genius and you made me look like a hero to my wife. You get the credit though! Let the lattes flow!


R Schiffman (Brownbag) said...

Thanks for the note Steve. It's great to hear when it works out.

John Brewer said...

I just replaced the ULKA pump on my Starbuck's Barista Espresso maker today.
The machine had started making noise and barely pushing water through the sytem.
I tried de-scaling with no effective change.
I then found and ordered a 52W replacement pump. They also carry a 41W pump for a few bucks less, but I consulted them and they said this would work.
The were right.
I referred to a few of the picks on this site.
Again, I did not take my pump apart, I replaced it outright.
$50 & 20 minutes later our machinge was good as new.
I noticed the date on our old pump was 2000. Not bad.

Leicavirgin said...

I'll try this today. My gaggia has been collecting dust for a few months so I think it just needs to be purged.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for keeping this up here. I found a $tarbuck$ barista for $3 yesterday, but it refused to pump, took it apart and the rubber valve was stuck just like yours. Now it pumps fine. I also had to clean out the wand, I unscrewed the tip and pushed out a disgusting wad of junk. After flushing, everything works great.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for your post. I inherited an Italian espresso machine from my brother. It worked great until this year when the pump when out. Looked for a replacement when I found your blog, followed the directions, and it works! You saved me $116. I love it when a plan works.


Anonymous said...

Brilliant. I used this to repair my ULKA EP5 pump.Thank you very much indeed.

water pumps systems said...

This is brilliant, this is how the coffee machine is fixed.

GT from Italy said...

My coffee machine is a Gaggia Espresso, but the pump is exactly the same (Ulka, model E, type EP5).

I had to remove completely the white plastic part #3 in order to be able to blow through the whole pump and make it work again.

The pump was clean, however there was plenty of scale in the pipes of the boiler, so I had to descale and clean them.

MarcEMarc said...

ok cleaned my pump per your blog and ordered a new one also ($34) which gave me some hard to find O-rings. I found my pump was leaking from inside the plastic saddle retaining assembly so needed a new O-ring (shown on your diagram but unnumbered on the plastic sleeve that inserts into the pump coil assembly).

so put it all back together but my output leaks at the T-assembly going to the high pressure boiler and the #1 over pressure relief valve. I did replace the O-ring around the threaded T-assembly but it still leaks under pressure.

I also went through every piece of tubing, valves and parts in the water/steam path. They are all clean with vinegar, very lightly lubricated with faucet water-proof grease and reassembled. I was thinking maybe the output check-valve in the stem of the output screen above the portafilter holder might be too tight but it doesn’t seem to have any adjustment (it comes out or goes back in).

I don’t know the pressure of the boiler assembly to know if it is over pressure or not at this point. The outlet over pressure valve is not opening so I assume it is under the 15 bar?

Any ideas would be helpful.

Dan said...

I took apart the pump to clean it and it works like a charm now! Thanks for saving me some money!