Thursday, December 15, 2011

Nice Barista resource with many pictures

This is a good resource for the Starbucks Barista. If you have problems with it, the pictures are better than mine, except for the actual pump section.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Starbucks pump question

Hi Rod,
I read your instructions for pump repair...just one do I know if pump needs repair....My Barista machine pump starting making louder than usual noise, and no water comes out. Upon opening top of machine, I can see that the hose for water intake is not filling with water, but is not crimped or clogged and there is plenty of water in tank....does this mean pump is not pulling in water and is broken? Steaming function of machine still seems to work, though not as strong as usual. Tried to follow the priming instructions, but doesn't help...never get any 4 ounces of water to flow through the steam wand as instructions state. Just a trickle of water, then steam.
Thanks for any advice,

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Ulka pump fix

Received on: [Fri 6/1/2007 3:22 PM]


I wanted to send you a thank you note for your instructions on fixing an Ulka pump. I’ve just returned from a long trip in China, with no coffee for four weeks, and to my dismay my Giotto was running on empty. I suspected the pump lost its priming, but had no idea how to fix it. Your detailed instruction got me going in now time. And hour later, I was enjoying a tight ristretto. You should see the smile on my face.

Abe Carmeli

Starbuck Barista Repair

Received on: [Mon 8/21/2006 7:51 AM]

Hi Rod - thanks for your excellent webpage, it rules! Thanks to you, I think I am on the verge of repairing an old Rancilio Betsy I got for cheap at a garage sale.

In any case, I had the pump apart last night, but didn't try to get the little brass cartridge apart as my wife wanted me to stop fiddling around with the device. However, in taking the whole pump apart, I didn't note the orientation of the brass washer that goes between the big "springy pump" and the little brass cartridge (it has a convex and a concave side). I looked at it, and put it back in with the convex side towards the brass cartridge because it seemed I could match the wear on the concave side with the big spring; however, this really wasn't how I remembered it when I took it apart. Do you have any recollection of how this might go?

Thanks again Rod, hope to hear from you!

Chris Moser
Calgary, Canada

thanks for the Ulka rebuild post

Received on: [Mon 7/9/2007 5:54 AM]

I just tore my EP5 apart yesterday after my machine ran dry and failed to reboot. (I have it on a timer to come on before I wake and go off late AM each day. I inadvertently left the pump on before the timer went off the day before) Priming didn't fix it so I dug in. I found nearly the same as in your pictures except that the brass piece was plastic on mine. I found that if I put piece #3 in all the way, it wouldn't work, but if i backed it off a bit, it would work. Not knowing how to adjust it, I guessed and put it back together. Now I don't get as much pressure as before it malfunctioned, but it pumps. I suspect I just need to tighten #3 all the way in and prime the pump to make it better. I plan to try that as soon as I have some coffee and satisfy my wife's needs (coffee that is).
Anyway, I wanted to thank you for your great pictures and post. jeff

I'm in Northern Minnesota (Grand Marais- on the North Shore)

Your post on Starbucks machine

Received on: [Sat 10/15/2005 6:23 PM]

This is a great post to show the public how to deal with a broken down Starbucks Barrista Espresso machine. I had the same problems as you described, the biggest one was to obtain a pump at a reasonable price. I finally got one for $37 from SAECO a leading Espresso machine manufacturer an exact match as in the original machine which had lasted for 5 years. Starbucks is a pain, their service stinks or is non-existent beyond the warranty. They referred me to their manufacturer then in turn they gave me a Dallas service station referal. They wanted $120 for a pump and if they are installing it would cost $250. Good grieve what a fricken rip-off.
There are several other dealers on the Internet that sell this ULKA Pump one of them asked for $56 the other one was on back order never got a price from them. One must make sure that they have the correct information that is on the pump when ordering, because different pumps are used in some of these models. The SAECO number is 800.933.7876, ask for the parts department.
Hope you can add this info in your post so it will help some other frustrated users of this machine.

Kurt H. Elmer

thanks for the pump pics!

Received on: [Saturday, August 26, 2006 10:16 AM]

I had a look at the pump and dismissed it as "hermetically sealed by those
little guysin italy with no chance of a kick in the pants to get it going"

I missed that little twict and pull somehow.

anyway, I'll report some sucess, the punp is now putting out full pressure.

please write me for an opinion of matters automotive and digital camera if
need be.


vibe pump repair tutorial

Received on: [Wednesday, February 01, 2006 8:09 PM]


funny, I was at a similar point with a bad machine from ebay:

someone on pointed me to your site then.

like you I suspected that the plastic-thingy-inside-of-brass-tube
(#3 in your plan) was somehow blocking the flow. because it's so hard
to blow water through this part, even when everything else is open.

the only thing is that I cant get the darn thing out.

anyway thanks for your tutorial, lets see how far it gets me :-)


Ulka pump repair page

Received on: [Sun 9/3/2006 5:38 AM]

Hello Rod:

First of all, thank you for publishing the page with the Ulka pump stripdown and repair. I've found it very useful and I'm sure a great many espresso enthusiasts have also done so. =)

If I may, I'd like to add a bit of information that may be of use to those taking apart an Ulka pump (I think they are all more or less the same), either in it's brass or plastic incarnations (the part containing parts 2, 3 and 4).

The little plastic retainer (3) for the spring loaded plug (4) is rather fragile and probably unobtainable as a spare part: great care must be taken to not 'screw it up' (pun intended) as it were by letting whatever attachment goes at the business end of the pump (usually a over pressure relief valve or a 'T') too far inside as it may cause damage to it.

An after-market OVP I installed on the Ulka EP5 in my espresso machine has too long a thread and I almost damaged the retainer by screwing it too far inside. My guess is that 8.0 mm and some Locktite sealer is the actual limit and quite enough.

I just had the pump on my desk so I took it apart and verified the depth of the available thread (before touching the plastic retainer) with a caliper and it measured out to 8.0 mm, at least in my Ulka Model
EP5 pump.

That's all. =)

Do add this information to your page if you feel it's worthwhile as I have the idea that it's looked up quite a bit.

Best regards,

Carlos Izzo Videla
Buenos Aires

Fixing a water pump...

Received email on: [Thursday, August 14, 2008 1:11 PM]


i saw your article on rebuilding a water pump for your espresso machine.

i bought an old saeco semi-auto at a thrift store, and i'm trying to get it working. i think everything else is working - except the water pump. i'm not sure whether it's something that can be fixed, or whether i should buy a new pump (at $60+ dollars), or whether i can rig up something else entirely.

do you have any suggestions? thanks.


Thanks to you, I too now have a free Starbuck's Barista espresso!

Sent to me [Wednesday, September 17, 2008 12:29 AM]

Hi Rod,

I just wanted to thank you for you pages on the StarBucks Barista machine. I found at the recycling room of our condo building, a Barista machine with all parts left, except for the head cleaning part.

A first run showed the machine not pumping water. I did a lot of googling and eventually stumbled on your page. With those excellent photos, I felt confident enough to take the thing apart. Two hours later, the parts were soaking in StarBucks[tm] descaling liquid. An hour later I re-assembled the pump, put it back in and it worked perfectly. I've been doing more cleaning and ran the descaling procedure through the entire machine now. Boy did it need that. The amount of completely burned coffee bits that came out was amazing. I hope to drink my first latte from the machine tomorrow.

Thanks again for the awesome manual you put online. You saved another Barista machine from the dumpster, and I now have an espresso machine!


Spring question from Bill

Sent to me: [Tuesday, September 23, 2008 11:17 PM]

Hi Rod

found your website. I am trying to get my pump working. disassembled, cleaned with vinegar, rinsed, reassembled. Still won't pump. the vibration seems less than before.on my unit the small white plastic ball wants to go down into the small spring. should i try to find a new spring ?

thanks for any help


Added as a resource on

My original web page was added as a resource on in 2006. That's when I figured I ought to update the page. It took a really long time before getting around to this.

Ulka Website

I don't think there's a lot of value here, but here's the link to these pumps on the Ulka website.

The original website page

I ended up with a free Starbuck's Barista espresso machine with a broken pump. It still made noise, but no water pumped. I quickly discovered that a replacement pump can cost as much as $100 online. I figured that I was mechanically inclined and I couldn't break a broken pump any worse than it already was. I've since seen that others have ended up with non-working pumps too. I suspect that a good cleaning will get many pumps working again.

Here's a picture of the business section of the machine after you remove the sheet metal cover. Remove the screws I've got arrows pointing to and the entire lower plastic parts will slide out so you can get to the screws to remove the pump.

I found it was easier to undo the high pressure fitting at the boiler. It did not want to come apart at the pump. I needed to remove one of the electrical connectors connected to one of the witches to get to the fitting easier.

In the picture below, I've removed the pump rubber mounting brackets and fittings along with the electrical connections The red wire goes in the middle connector.

OK, now the pump is out. The main pump mechanism is held into the pump body with two screws. The top fittings will unscrew. Now, it's time to get serious about the teardown.

Here's the totally disassembled pump. There's not that many parts, and they are all pretty sturdy. The main white nylon/plastic section will rotate and come apart. The parts all come apart easily. They can be cleaned with a mixture of distilled vinegar with a little water if necessary. The most likely area to have problems is in the brass section that is exploded in the inset, or in the two pieces marked with number #1. These two pieces should come out pretty easily after the hose is disconnected. When you go to insert the pieces back in, put
the two pieces together like #4 in the inset. This will make sure everything seats properly. In my case the problem area was the brass fixture that I've blown apart in the inset. Click on the picture to see a large version.

The rubber gasket, nylon ball and spring labeled at #2 above all came apart easily. The problem was parts #3 and #4. I couldn't figure out how to get them out. Part #3 can be unscrewed from the brass section. I used a pair of tweezers. A very small pair of needle nose pliers could also work. It can be unscrewed. If the spring doesn't pull out easily, don't pull too hard. You can take a paper clip and push it through the brass fixture to break loose the rubber piece and spring from the brass fixture. That was the problem with my pump. Somehow the rubber piece got stuck. Take all the pieces and soak them in the vinegar and water mixture. Make sure the the rubber and spring are put back together as shown in the inset before reassembling everything. Part #3 does not have to be screwed back in. It can be pushed back in place without screwing it in. It's a one way connector. It has to be unscrewed to take it out, but it can be pushed n.

At this point it's just a matter of trying out the pump. In the picture below I'm showing a setup I'd never recommend. I've connected up the power, put the intake for the pump into a Tupperware container and set the output of the pump into a cup. I'm careful to hold the plastic pieces of the pump with gloves while I test the pump. After I tested it, the pump was pumping lot's of water into the cup. Yea.

At this point, it was just a matter of putting everything back together, trying it out and pumping most of the water reservoir through the portafilter to clean out the vinegar. At this point, I put the sheet metal back on and started the process of becoming a reasonable coffee geek.

If you have questions or issues with this, contact me at "rod (at)".


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.