1615 Prospect Street, Indianapolis, IN 46203  317-876-9031

Soft Water & Lime

Soft Water Is VERY Important!

Water is probably the most neglected part of making coffee: if you don’t like the taste of your water, you won’t like the taste of your coffee. Most tap water is fine—whether it be well water or city water—but we recommend you test your water periodically. In most instances, relatively inexpensive water treatment can make a big improvement in your coffee. For example, if your water has a distinctive chlorine or other taste, there are numerous inexpensive, easily installed, taste & odor filters available.

Tube clogged with lime

Besides taste, the biggest water concern is its softness; hard water is the enemy of anything that heats water. When an espresso machine boils water, the minerals in that water fall out and accumulate in your boiler—just like your home hot water heater. Once in your boiler, that accumulated lime effectively reduces your boiler capacity, can reduce heating element effectiveness and may cause your boiler to overfill. Water will carry very small pieces of lime throughout the machine where it blocks flow meters, keeps valves from closing and clogs lines. Without any exaggeration, 80%+ of our repair business is directly attributed to lime.

Central Indiana sits on top of some of the world’s best limestone, which is a good news/bad news situation. The good news is Indiana limestone is so desirable it was used to build the Empire State Building, the bad news is that same limestone ensures we have extremely hard water. (Click here for a US Geological Survey map which shows central Indiana has the hardest water east of the Mississippi)

Any central Indiana water used to make espresso must be softened. Choosing to save a little money today—by not softening your water—will cost you much more money later. Recently, we had to replace the $900 steam boiler on a high-end, double boiler, commercial machine with 1.25″ of lime buildup. If you don’t have a centralized softener, we can quickly install a dedicated, cartridge-type softening system to ensure your machine always has softened water [< 3 grains per gallon (gpg)].

For those who want to step up their game and use the ideal coffee making water, we can install a softening system which will remove water hardness while retaining the 3-6 gpg alkalinity needed to extract your coffee’s true flavors.

Some things to know about water:

When you decide it’s ok to run an $8,000 espresso machine without a $150 water softener, this is what you get:

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A boiler full of lime

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Heat exchanger full of lime

They wondered whey they weren’t getting hot water!

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Group head clogged with lime