Good day, I hope you’ve enjoyed a great cup of coffee today. I’d like to offer a bit of information about the water used to make your favorite drink.
Coffee only comprises 5% of your what goes into your cup, with water being the other 95%. Coffee does not transform water into a great drink, water transforms coffee into a great drink. Regardless of where your water comes from, if you don’t like how the water tastes, you’re definitely not going to like the coffee it makes.
The taste of any water is determined by what is in—or not in—that liquid. Water from a reservoir tastes different than water from a deep well aquifer. Central Indiana aquifer water seeps through countless amounts of limestone, which results in a high calcium content aka hard water. Reservoir water usually has flowed over farm fields and granite river beds and doesn’t contain as much calcium hardness.
Municipal water supplies rarely produce soft water. Indianapolis tap water is routinely 12 – 20 grains per gallon hardness. Ideal coffee making water contains 3 – 4 grains of hardness.
Live in central Indiana for very long and you’ll learn that hard water causes lime buildup, and expensive damage, in anything that heats water—especially espresso machines. The most common way to soften hard water is a standard, fill the softener with salt, setup. These softeners work well, but add sodium to your water, which affects coffee taste.
Some people believe using bottled water avoids hard water issues. Unfortunately, unless it’s labeled otherwise, that bottled water probably came from a municipal water supply and we know that water is rarely softened. Just because the bottle says it’s filtered doesn’t mean it’s softened. Filtering takes out things floating in the water, while softening removes what is dissolved in the water.
Some people use reverse osmosis or distilled water instead of tap water. Reverse osmosis and distilled water have very little taste as all of the minerals have been removed. Also, the absence of minerals in the water means it doesn’t conduct electricity which may prevent your espresso machine from operating properly. Lastly, these waters are all somewhat acidic, which not only affects coffee taste, but the acid will attack coffee machine parts—especially home machines containing lesser quality materials.
Watch for our next post, we’ll talk about how what’s in your water extracts the good, and the bad, parts of your ground coffee. Until then, have a great day and enjoy a great cup of coffee at your local coffee shop.