A (very) brief primer on water for coffee brewing.

A (very) brief primer on water for coffee brewing.

David Kemble

So you've got your brewer, grinder and your beans. Now to time to make some coffee. Just before you go rushing for the kettle have a think about what makes up the majority of your brew; water. 

Water has an enormous effect on coffee. With all things equal water can make an enormous difference to your end result. You can really taste the difference between hard and soft water and water with differing mineral constituents. Indeed I would go as far as to say you can ruin good coffee with bad water.

If you want to keep things simple but get a good result without too much fuss then we suggest simply using a water filter jug. This will help to soften your water if it is hard (and protect any electric brewers or espresso machine you have from scale) and at the same time remove chlorine and other unwanted chemicals. This isn't perfect but it is a heck of a lot better than plain tap water.

Want to take things a step further? Read on.

A start up company called Peak has created a very interesting filter jug that is specifically aimed at the home coffee market. We are yet to test it but from what we read from several well respected members of our industry it is a very good solution. It is more expensive than a Brita jug but it is still a very reasonably priced solution.

There are a number of other options too. but this is where the price can start to ratchet up.

Distilled water is available in bottles and can also be made at home using counter top distillers. It cannot however be used without adding back in the precious minerals we need. In fact totally pure water can actually be corrosive to espresso machines and brewers. You can add in various things like bicarbonate of soda and magnesium powders to get the perfect balance or you can buy sachets of minerals from companies like Third Wave Water. 

Finally the best possible solution is what is known as Reverse Osmosis (RO). RO is a process whereby your water is forced through fine meshes and screens to filter our all of the nasty bits we don't want and leave us with perfect water for brewing. The kicker here? Cost. The systems are not cheap if you wish to have a mains feed treated and you will almost certainly have to have your water tested to get the system properly configured. Fear not though, there are now several counter top systems available at a much more sensible price such as the Osmio system. These are a lot more cost effective and even provide hot water on demand.

This is a topic that is hugely complicate and we have barely scratched the surface here. The bottom line is this though, think about your water.

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