All the details in making delicious coffee are important. Water is one of the most important details because of its high content in every cup.
If 70% of our body is water, in coffee this percentage is much higher. Between 94 and 98% of each cup of coffee actually consists of water. Therefore, what kind of water we use to make coffee is of utmost importance. If the water does not meet some requirements, not only the taste of our drink can be unpleasant, but also our home (or industrial) coffee equipment will suffer. We already told you briefly that you should pay attention to the water in your cup of coffee, and now let’s be more specific, for your convenience.
Water quality – what to look for when brewing coffee
It is imperative that water is fresh, colorless, without odor or taste. Often, water companies treat water with chlorine for disinfection, but you would hardly want to drink coffee with a taste of water pool (they are also full of chlorine). It is good to know that the taste and smell of chlorine can be eliminated if you filter your water.
Total dissolved solids
You probably know that water can contain minerals – such as above mentioned chlorine, calcium, fluoride, iron, dissolved substances, microorganisms such as bacteria and even additives. They all influence the taste of the coffee.
The good news is that some minerals can help extraction. Pay attention to the content of magnesium and calcium because magnesium helps extract more fruity and sharper flavors while calcium helps the creamy notes in the drink to stand out. The explanation for this is simple – ions in minerals have a positive charge. And aromatic compounds in coffee have a negative charge and are therefore naturally attracted to the positive charges of magnesium and calcium.
The Total Dissolved Solids indicator measures all minerals, salts, metals, or other solids that have been dissolved in water. Remember that their content should be between 75 and 250 mg/l, because regardless of the brewing method you use – an Aeropress, a Mocca, a Cezve, a Coffee Syphon, a V-60, a Chemex, a French press, automatic filter machine or espresso machine, coffee is all about extraction.
Hard or soft water is better for coffee?
Total hardness of water
Total hardness of water is the number of minerals dissolved in cold, fresh water. Hardness is generally measured in milligrams of solids per liter of water. It should be between 125 and 175 mg/l.
Total hardness has in itself two types of hardness – permanent (which cannot be removed except by the use of a filter system and softener) and temporary hardness (or carbonate hardness) that is easily removable by boiling water.
The temporary hardness in water should be between 25 and 125 mg/l. High levels of permanent or calcium hardness can lead to the buildup of limescale in equipment that shortens its life. Hard water comes with specific problems. As hot water evaporates, minerals can remain in coffee equipment in the form of limestone deposits. They can cause a heater malfunction, blockage of pipes, and poor stream of water or steam and more.
Best pH Level
The desired pH in the water for brewing coffee is 7. By pH, we measure the level of acidity of water, with 7 being neutral acidity. With levels higher than 8, water is alkaline. With levels around 4 and lower, it is high in acidity Keep in mind that soft water becomes acid easily and hard water is alkaline. The acidity of the coffee changes depending on the carbonate hardness because carbonates could act as a buffer. If water is highly alkaline, the buffer will expel the positive acidity in the taste (ie citric, malic, etc.). Or to put it differently, we won’t be able to find it in the taste. If the water is low alkaline, then the coffee will have an acid taste. Therefore, we should aim for averages which make for a balanced taste.
You need to look for several factors in order to ensure you have the best water for brewing coffee –
- cleanliness – fresh water with no odor, color or taste
- total dissolved solids – the quantity should be between 75 and 250 mg/l
- total hardness of water – should be between 125 and 175 mg/l.
- temporary hardness of water – should be between 25 and 125 mg/l
- pH level – the best is 7