Many coffee drinkers are obsessed with what goes into their cup: the type of beans they are brewing, the method of brewing being used, and what “extras” they are putting in their cup. How many of you ever really take the time to focus on the main ingredient of your brew… the water?
Here’s why, good old H2O makes up over 98-percent of a coffee beverage. No matter the bean, the method or the enhancers you are using, the flavor of your beverage may not reach its full potential without having the proper water. Employing filtration may be the best way to maximize your water’s potential.
There are numerous types of filters in the marketplace. Prior to choosing one for your application, you should determine which technology meets your needs. While choosing this filter, its impact to the coffee flavor should be a consideration. Typically a filter for beverages focuses on reducing what impacts the flavor of the beverage (taste, odor and sediment).
All drinking water contains some level of minerals and disinfectants. Some of those compounds are positive and add to the refreshing taste of the water. Additionally, the level of your water quality varies on a daily basis as municipalities may use different water sources. Therefore, your water (and thus your coffee) may taste great one day may taste entirely different a few days later.
The majority of municipal water systems use chlorine to disinfect tap water. Chlorine is an oxidizer that tends to suppress the natural aromatics of coffee so using tap water to brew coffee is essentially a waste of good coffee.
Some basic numbers to keep in mind come from the Specialty Coffee Association of America which recommends brewing coffee in water that contains approximately150 mg/l of total dissolved solids (TDS), 5 grains* hardness and a pH close to 7(neutral). There are water hardness test strips and kits available at various retailers that range in price from $2 to $700. * (1 grain hardness = approximately 17.1 mg/l)
It is assumed that hard water (water that is high in mineral content 7 grains +) is a bad mix with coffee beans however; some level of water hardness can actually be beneficial to bring out flavor.
As you do with your brewer, remember to keep up the maintenance on your method of filtration. It’s unlikely that any filter will perform well for extended time periods unless regular replacement is made. As your filter’s capacity depletes, becomes less effective and can impact your beverage quality by allowing the original taste and odor concerns to return, back into your water.
If you have any questions or methods that have worked for you, please email me and don’t forget to filter for your flavor.