Have you ever gotten excited about purchasing a bag of coffee after reading the tasting notes on the label only to find it frustrating that the flavors in your brew did not match what was printed on the bag? Me too! If you want to change that, this blog post is for you.
Coffee is 98% water, which means that the quality and composition of your water will impact what you experience in your morning brew. If you are buying coffee from roasters who follow the Specialty Coffee association water recommendations (like Carabello Coffee), we use water filtration that helps us achieve the optimal pH, hardness and minerality necessary in the water to get the best extraction possible. This all translates to tasty coffee when brewed well.
“But what about grind particle size, water temperature and extraction time?” you might ask. “Are they not also important?” Yes. But, if the water you use in your brew doesn’t match the water your roaster uses in theirs, your chances of experiencing the tasting notes they list on the bag decrease dramatically.
Get closer to tasting the flavors your roasters are printing on their labels for just pennies per cup.
Here are a few ways you can achieve Specialty Coffee Association water in your home without an expensive filtration system.
Peak Water Pitcher & Filter
The Peak Water Pitcher & Filter allows you to determine exactly what your water needs and filters it to the setting of your choice. So now you can have the café quality coffee you’ve come to love in the comfort of your own home.
The pitcher comes with a Starter Kit that includes two test strips that allow you to test your tap water at home. By comparing your results to the color chart provided with the test strips, you will be able to determine the precise adjustment that needs to be made on the filter setting to produce the perfect water for your brew. The knob on top of the pitcher makes for easy, stress-free adjustments that work to filter out or retain the minerals in your water. The Peak Water Pitcher not only works great with coffee, but will also improve your tea-brewing and drinking-water as well.
We are one of the only places in the USA that carries this filter, and at $75 it is a good bargain and will last you for years to come. Replacement filters are also available for $37 here.
Third Wave Water
Two coffee and water geeks set out to solve for this problem, and the more they got into it the more they realized that most everyone in the USA is dealing with slightly different water specs. From place to place the water is just enough different that focusing on simply removing certain elements from the water would never allow for them to achieve uniformity from place to place. So rather than focus on a solution that removes things from the water, they went the opposite way.
Third Wave Water is a packet of minerals and other goodies meant to be added to one gallon of distilled water. The thinking went like this: Since distilled water has nothing in it—yep, water devoid of any minerality, hardness, etc.—and since all people have access to distilled water at their local grocer, if we mix up the perfect blend of what that distilled water will need in order to achieve optimal coffee brewing water, then we can deliver a consistent product to market, solve for this problem and make happy coffee drinkers everywhere.
Voilà! With both of these you get great results for pennies per cup.
What NOT To Do When it Comes to Water
- Never use distilled water to brew your coffee. Distilled water will over extract your coffee and it will be very bitter. Simply put, is devoid of the necessary minerals needed to get good extraction.
- Never use well water to brew your coffee. Well water is going to be full of minerals to the point where they will dominate the flavor profile of your cup, not to mention it will be too hard to get good extraction.
- Do not use Reverse Osmosis Water to brew your coffee unless your RO system allows you to add in some tap water post filtration to increase mineralization and achieve between 3-5 grains of hardness. RO water will have much the same properties as distilled water and lead to poor tasting coffee.
Bonus: Cool Story
Early on in my coffee career I did not have a solid understanding of just how significant this can be. Sure, I knew it was important to filter water from the standpoint that we wanted to reduce hardness and limescale build up inside expensive coffee equipment. But flavor impact? I was not so sure it was significant.
That all began to change as we expanded our wholesale coffee business and began to run into frustrated customers who were struggling to taste what we were telling them they should taste in the coffees we were roasting for them. We quickly learned that if we brew and taste coffees using a Specialty Coffee Association water spec but our customers did not—even though their water was filtered—we would get different results. And if we want the coffees we roast to taste the same out in our customers' restaurants, cafes, churches and hotels, we had to get us all on the same filtered water spec.
Making that discovery, and forcing us to all use the same filtration system and achieve the same composition of our water was a huge game-changer to us maintaining quality and consistency through our wholesale channels!