To make coffee taste good you don't use any water. Use good filtered water.
Sure, there are other things you can do for a better Java. But coffee in your cup is 98% water. So it makes a hell lot of difference to the taste if your water is awful.
What Water Do You Use to Brew Your Coffee?
Coffee and Water
Why water is the most important ingredient in your coffee is best explained by Matt Perger:
When you mix coffee and water, a lot of things happen. The most relevant and easy to understand of all these things is that water dissolves a lot of the coffee's flavors. These dissolved flavors make up almost everything you taste when you drink a cup of coffee. The rest is undissolved stuff. This is mostly very small coffee grinds that affect mouthfeel but can't be included in the extraction because they are just floating around in the water
~ Matt Perger of Barista Hustle
Use Filtered Water to Make Coffee Taste Good
Matt went on to describe water as the medium for flavor. That it takes in or extract the oil and solids present in the coffee.
But water also has several traces of minerals. These add flavor and aids in the extraction of coffee bean oils. It should have the right amount of calcium, magnesium, and bicarbonate. This will give the right flavor to your brewed coffee.
Magnesium in water aids the extraction of sharp, fruitier flavors in the coffee bean. Calcium will bring out the heavier, creamy notes and balanced the sharper, acidic notes. Likewise, bicarbonate helps balance the acid level. But too much of both will give calcium carbonate. This will accumulate in your coffee machines or ice-making machines as scales build-up.
Chlorides can enhance the coffee's body, creaminess, and sweetness. Sodium's role is to reduce the bitterness but too much will affect the flavor.
Tap Water for Coffee
This is where tap water failed.
It has too much or even too little of these minerals to make coffee taste good. It even has traces of contaminants such as chlorine, fluoride, lead etc. or even pesticide.
So you need filtered water for your coffee. Water filtration for the restaurant business will not only reduce these contaminants, it also reduce scales build-up from calcium and magnesium deposits. Hence, prolonging the shelf life of your expensive coffee machines.
Total Dissolved Solids in Water
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) is a measure of the combined mineral content of water. This includes soluble solids along with magnesium and calcium salts. Some experts say the ideal water for coffee will have TDS of 90-150 parts per million (ppm).
Sure, you can argue that not everyone has the same taste. Hence there is no such thing as the ideal or optimal water profile for coffee water. But if you must know how much is good, use the above TDS as a guideline.
Use Coffee-Specific Refractometer
How to Check Mineral Content in Water
To do water mineral testing, you can send your water sample to a local lab. For a fee of about $20, they will email you back the analysis.
Or, google water report for your area. Someone could have done this test before and had it shared online.
You can also use someone's swimming pool titration kit. This is to test for hardness and alkalinity.
You can refer to Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA)'s recommended water for coffee extraction which are:
|Odor||Clean/Fresh color free||Clean/Fresh color free|
|Color||Clear color||Clear color||Total Chlorine||0 mg/L||0 mg/l|
|TDS||150 mg/L||75 - 250 mg/L||Calcium Hardness||4 grains or 68 mg/L||1-5 grains or 17-85 mg/L|
|Total Alkalinity||40 mg/L||At or near 40 mg/L||pH||7||6.5 -7.5|
|Sodium||10 mg/L||At or near 10 mg/L|
Water Filter System for the Food Service Industry
The water filter system for your restaurant must meet your high volume traffic. It must have the Chloramine and Chlorine reduction capabilities that improve water taste. Or more make coffee taste good. It must also filter out contaminants such as cryptosporidium and giardia. These can impact the quality of your water.
If your area has hard water, install the scale inhibitor cartridges. These will reduce scale build-up from Calcium and Magnesium present in hard water.
Reverse Osmosis Filtration System
The Reverse Osmosis water filter system will remove everything from the water. This includes fluoride, lead, chlorine, chloramine, pesticides, detergents, nitrates, and sulfates.
But mineral-free water is not ideal for coffee brewing.
So you reintroduce the good minerals in the correct increments. You do this with water softeners and conditioners or remineralization cartridge.
Is Reverse Osmosis Water Acidic?
Yes, Reverse Osmosis water is acidic. When you complete the RO process, you get pure water with a pH value of 7. This is the desired target for good water for coffee.
But once you exposed the RO water to air, the pH dropped from 7 to the acidic range of 5 to 5.5. Because pure water is 'hungry' and will grab CO2 right out of the air.
The common way to treat low pH RO water is to use a neutralizer. The neutralizer feeds sodium carbonate solution into the water which increases the pH.
So to get a desirable cup of coffee; water quality, right amount of minerals and a constant pH are important.
Which Water Filter to Buy?
There are many different water filtration systems on the market using various technologies. Some examples of these systems are:
- Carbon/Activated Carbon
- Granulated Activated Carbon
- Ion Exchange
- Reverse Osmosis
- Ultra Violet
- Water Softeners
It also depends on what you need. If your area has soft water, you may not need a scale inhibitor.
Generally, the cartridges are the most cost effective solution for better water quality. And to make coffee taste good.
What is important is to ensure it is NSF International (NSF) certified.
A water filtration system that is NSF certified tells you that it has been independently tested and meets the strict health requirements. That what it claims to perform, meet the standard.
But not all NSF certifications are the same. It will only certify what the company claimed it can do. So if a filter is to reduce scale build-up, it will not remove any specific contaminants. Hence, read the fine print.
Make Coffee Taste Good
To make coffee taste better, use water that is just off the boiling point. It will extract the coffee’s full range of flavors. If it is too cool it will dull the flavor and aroma.
So now you know why water quality and water temperature are important to coffee extraction and brewing. How it can make coffee taste good or better.
So what's the big deal? Because coffee has many health benefits. Thus, important that we drink good coffee.
To know more of these health benefits, click the photos below to read the articles.
If you have anything to share or comment, love to hear it from you. Please use the comment box below. Thanks.