Water makes up 98-99% of coffee, while the remaining 1-2% is brew solids that are extracted from the ground coffee. The water quality in coffee plays a significant role in transforming the character and taste of your coffee.
There are many variables to brewing a great-tasting cup of coffee. When your coffee tastes off, you immediately consider the coffee bean origin, brew time, grind size, and brewing process. You should pay more attention to how water quality affects coffee taste. Water is a variable in the brewing process that can be controlled.
How Does Water Make a Difference in Coffee?
Water is rarely just water. Water always contains dissolved substances or minerals that can influence your coffee’s taste. The mineral makeup of the brewing water can impact how the water reacts to the ground coffee in the brewing process.
Magnesium, Calcium, and Bicarbonate are the three most common compounds found in water. All three compounds can have a strong effect on the coffee’s flavor. Bicarbonate, for example, acts as a buffer regulating acidity and the wrong amount of Bicarbonate could leave your coffee tasting flat or dull. The extent to which these compounds affect your coffee’s taste depends on how many parts per million (ppm) is in the water being used.
Water Quality Guidelines for Coffee Brewing
Even though water may be deemed drinkable and safe to consume, water could contain unpleasant substances that affect coffee taste. The Specialty Coffee Association’s (SCA) published guidelines states that water should be clean, odor-free and contain no chlorine to obtain superior quality extraction of coffee solids.
According to the SCA, for a superior quality extraction of coffee solids, the brewing water should have the below characteristics:
You won’t get a perfect cup of coffee every time, but you can improve the water quality in coffee by sticking to the SCA guidelines.
What is the Best Water for Coffee?
There are no distinct standards on the specific kind of water (or filter process) that should be used for coffee brewing. The best water for coffee is within the SCA’s guidelines and follows these recommendations.
- Avoid old water, reused water or water that has been heated and cooled. These types of water have lost oxygen creating a flat taste and affecting how water and coffee react during the brewing process.
- If using tap water, it is recommended to use cold water instead of hot water. Cold water is typically fresher than hot water. Adding warmer water to your brewer does not prime the heating process.
- Do not use distilled water. Although recommended by some to prevent mineral build-up in your brewer, you should not use distilled water if you want your coffee to have flavor. Distilled water is too pure and lacking the minerals needed to provide flavor in the brewing process.
Achieving Consistent Water Quality in Coffee
Irregular brew water creates irregular cups of coffee. To achieve consistent great tasting cups of coffee every time, you need to go a step further than drinkable water.
If you prefer municipal water, you can control the consistency of the water quality with a filter. All of our in-line automatic coffee brewers come with a filter so that only clean, odor-free, non-chlorinated water enters the coffee brewer each and every time.
If you prefer bottled water to create more consistency in your brew, the water used should be within the acceptable range of the SCA’s guidelines. “The Water Guy”™ offers bottled water (spring water and purified with mineral water) that is not only great for taste but also comes in a variety of food-grade sizes (1-gallon, 3-liter, 3-gallon, and 5-gallon). The smaller size bottles are perfect for pouring directly into a pour-over brewer, while the larger size bottles can be tapped into a pitcher for easy pouring.
Whether you are achieving consistency with a filter or bottled water, we see great tasting cups of coffee in your future!
“The Water Guy” ™ can help with brewing great coffee! Whether you need a higher water quality in coffee or an excellent coffee service for your employees, customers, and guests, we have you covered. Contact a coffee specialist today to customize a coffee service to meet your needs.