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To brew a delicious cup of coffee, all you need is water and good coffee beans. In this case, water is not just an “ingredient” but also a solvent. Using the wrong type of water could completely alter the quality of your coffee.
The type of water you use determines the outcome of your coffee. This is particularly important with cold-brewed coffee, so you need quality water.
As a coffee enthusiast, you put a lot of thought into the kind of coffee you buy, the machine you use, the way you brew the coffee, and the way you drink your coffee. You should also think about the kind of water you use to brew your coffee.
When coffee tastes weak or bland, we tend to blame the coffee beans or even the machine, forgetting how much influence water has on the coffee’s flavor. So what’s the best water for coffee brewing? Let’s find out.
Types of Water
If you recall basic chemistry, there are different types of water – soft and hard water – and they both have different characteristics that set them apart.
Soft water is treated water that has removed the majority of its minerals, especially calcium and magnesium. These minerals are heavily filtered out and replaced by sodium ions or salt.
Soft water has a slightly salty flavor. As a result, if you make coffee using soft water, it generally tastes bland, weak, or tasteless. This is because the remaining minerals do not impact the acidity or flavor of coffee in any way.
Hard water is water that contains minerals such as magnesium and calcium. These minerals can accentuate the acidity in coffee, which can enrich its taste. Depending on the state you live in, tap water is a common source of hard water.
Tap water in different states has different kinds of hardness (influenced by the concentration of minerals). They also vary within the same state, depending on the time.
According to research by Christopher Hendon, the minerals present in hard water make it a perfect choice for brewing coffee. However, with this varying degree of hardness, it means that the taste of your coffee will not be consistent. Instead, the taste will depend on the kind of hard water you get that day – something that is entirely outside of your control.
Why Is Water Important for Coffee Brewing?
Roasted coffee beans have compounds like eugenol, lactic acid, and citric acid – all of which play a huge role in how flavorful your coffee is. Eugenol, in particular, is responsible for the distinct “woodsy” coffee flavor.
The more eugenol extracted from the coffee creates a woodsier taste. These compounds occur in different concentrations in coffee to create highly varied flavors.
On the other hand, the minerals present in water (calcium and magnesium ions) give it different characteristics. Magnesium easily bends with other compounds.
This means that water with a higher concentration of magnesium ions will extract more eugenol. This leaves your coffee with stronger flavors and higher concentrations of caffeine. This is one of the reasons why coffee made with hard water tastes better.
However, one downside of using hard water is that there can also be high levels of bicarbonate, which could cause the coffee to have strong, bitter flavors.
Soft water has almost no magnesium ions, which means eugenol cannot bind to anything. This explains why the coffee flavors remain flat and bland.
Other Factors That Can Affect Water for Coffee Brewing
Aside from the water’s hardness level, the pH and total dissolved solids (TDS) of water can also affect the way your coffee turns out.
The TDS of Water
The TDS of water is the total amount of organic and inorganic materials present in a particular volume of water. They could range from ions, salts, metals, or minerals.
TDS is anything in water that is not an H2O molecule, making it a pretty broad term. Because water is a universal solvent, it dissolves and absorbs any soluble particle found.
The TDS from water could come from plumbing, water runoff from the ground, natural springs, and even chemicals used to treat water. The maximum amount of TDS that should be present in drinking water is 500 ppm. Anything higher than that is unsafe.
Of course, the TDS needs to be much lower than that for coffee brewing, or the coffee will be over-extracted. The ideal TDS range for water used in coffee brewing is between 75-250 ppm.
The pH of the water, which is the ratio between the total hardness and alkalinity of water, is even more important than the number of minerals present in the water.
As said before, total hardness is the combined amount of calcium and magnesium present in the water, while alkalinity is the buffering capacity of the water. The optimal ratio to make a balanced and flavorful coffee is 2:1.
The best pH range for water used to brew coffee is 6.5 – 7.5. However, once the alkalinity is high, the coffee may be over-extracted. Not to mention that it can cause a build-up of calcium and magnesium carbonates that could ruin your coffee machine.
Tap Vs. Bottled Water
Tap water is one of the most readily available sources of hard water. However, it is not always a good idea to use tap water to brew coffee, as tap water is very unpredictable.
You don’t know the amount of TDS or the level of hardness your water could have that day. Tap water can also contain other minerals that are unpredictable and could hurt your brew.
Tap water can also contain mold, bacteria, fungi, or chemicals that may be hard to remove. The pH levels could rise to 9, which is too much alkaline for proper coffee brewing and unsafe for your machines.
Using bottled water that has been treated to remove contaminants and only include optimal levels of TDS and pH might be a better choice.
The Best Water for Coffee Brewing
So far, we’ve established that the best water for coffee brewing includes the following considerations:
- Total dissolved solids (TDS)
Both tap water and bottled water have these qualities. However, because of the unreliable nature of tap water, bottled water is a safer and better alternative.
The Best Bottled Water for Coffee Brewing
Crystal Geyser is bottled with water sourced from seven protected natural springs found in the United States.
The springs are located near Olancha Peak in the southern Sierra mountains, the Shasta National Forest in northern California, Moultonborough in New Hampshire, the protected forest in Johnstown New York, and the middle of the Ossipee Mountains.
Other sources include the Cherokee National Forest in Benton, Tennessee and the Blue Ridge Mountains in South Carolina. The water is bottled close to these sources.
It has a TDS of 113 ppm and a pH of 7.5. It also has a balanced concentration of calcium and magnesium, which impacts the flavor of your brewed coffee. Its low alkaline pH also ensures that you don’t over-extract the coffee.
Find the Crystal Geyser Alpine Spring Water at Amazon.
Volvic Natural Spring Water is bottled in the Auvergne region of France. The water is taken from the Clairvic Spring, north of the dormant volcano, The Puy de Dôme.
The passage of rainwater and melted snow through the volcanic rock gives Volvic water its mineral content . Additionally, the surrounding lava rock provides a high level of natural filtration that provides the water with a clean flavor.
Once water hits the volcanic rock, it travels downwards until it hits a granite bed and is filtered over six layers of lava rock. The water, which now contains a unique combination of minerals and electrolytes, is extracted from 90 meters below the surface.
Volvic water has a balanced mineral content that contains moderate amounts of calcium, magnesium, and other trace minerals that significantly impact the flavor of your coffee.
Find the Volvic Natural Spring Water at Amazon.
Acqua Panna is bottled with water obtained from a natural spring high up in the mountains of Tuscany, Italy. It has a well-balanced mineral content that is great for coffee extraction while also including a pH of 8 and TDS of 121 ppm.
However, some people may find that the water’s high alkalinity may cause the coffee to have a duller taste.
Find the Acqua Panna Natural Spring Water at Amazon.
Poland Spring Origin Water is taken from springs hidden in the woods of Maine. The water is naturally filtered through 10,000-year-old glacial sands and contains a balanced concentration of naturally occurring electrolytes and minerals.
The bottled water has a pH of 6.5-7 and TDS of 40 ppm.
Find the Panna Natural Spring Water at Amazon.
Filtering Your Tap Water
There are ways to purify your tap water for people who are uninterested in buying bottled water to brew coffee. These purification methods ensure that the water contains the optimum amount of TDS levels for coffee brewing.
A good rule of thumb for using tap water is to check its drinkability. If you can’t drink it, it’s probably a bad idea to use it to make coffee.
As long as the water is clear, clean, odor-free, and without chlorine, you can filter it and tweak the water’s TDS to be coffee-friendly.
Water filter pitchers are a cheap and effective way to purify water. However, one disadvantage is that water filter pitchers have a limited capacity and can only filter a few gallons of water at one time.
An example of an effective water filter pitcher is the Brita Water Filter Pitcher.
The Brita Water Filter Pitcher is one of the most well-known pitchers on the market. This is partially due to its affordability and efficiency at reducing TDS levels. It can remove up to 40% of TDS.
It is also certified by the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) to remove harmful chlorine, metals, and ions. It uses activated carbon and ion exchange resin to reduce the TDS content of water.
The filter pitcher can filter up to 16 cups of water at once. The pitcher can filter 40 gallons of water before the filter needs to be changed. The replacement filters are also affordable and easy to find. This pitcher is also lightweight and able to filter water quickly.
However, one disadvantage of using this filter pitcher is that it doesn’t remove hard water minerals. You can use the Brita Water Filter Pitcher with a TDS tester to measure the mineral content.
Find the DUMSAMKER TDS Tester at Amazon.
The DUMSAMKER TDS Tester is an affordable and efficient TDS tester with many features and functions. The meter can show TDS readings ranging from 0-9999 ppm, making it extremely accurate and reliable for almost any kind of water.
In addition to checking TDS levels, the tester can also be used to check the water’s temperature and electrical conductivity. All of these features are quite impressive for the affordable price of this TDS tester.
You can use the DUMSAMKER TDS Tester to verify that water filtered by the Brita Water Filter Pitcher is acceptable for brewing coffee. Best of all, it includes a 1.5-year warranty that ensures its long-term durability and functionality.
Find the DUMSAMKER TDS Tester at Amazon.
The kind of water you use to brew coffee is as important as the type of coffee used. Water is filled with components that could impact the taste of your coffee. So, to continue enjoying flavorful coffee, you have to be sure you’re using the best water for coffee brewing.
Hopefully, this article has been able to answer all of your questions about water and coffee making. If you want to read more articles like this, don’t forget to check out our collection of coffee articles.