You may be surprised to learn that water is one of the most important factors in how coffee tastes. This post will explore this critical element and give you some tips on how to make your coffee taste better.
The post goes on to discuss water's impact on flavor, how it affects different coffees, and what type of water makes a good cup of joe!
How Water Affects the Taste of Coffee
Coffee is often served with milk, cream, or sugar. Most people don't think about the water used to brew coffee as affecting the taste of their morning cup of joe.
However, after tasting some truly amazing cups of coffee made using different types and qualities of water, I was convinced that there's no other way to explain it than by saying that water does affect the flavor!
The reason for this may be due in part to the minerals present in your tap water or because you're boiling your kettle so much more diligently than before. Regardless, what's important is enjoying all the nuances and flavors available in a delicious cup o' joe.
What pH of water is best for coffee?
If you love coffee as much as I do, you've probably wondered what the best pH for brewing coffee is.
In order to brew great-tasting java, you need water that is appropriate for coffee. Water that is too hard or alkaline will extract extra bitter compounds from the ground coffee, resulting in a bad-tasting beverage.
On the other hand, water that is too soft or acidic can lead to poor extraction of soluble flavor compounds, resulting in a weak and underdeveloped cup.
Quite literally speaking, this means you should aim for water with a pH in the range of 6.5–7.5 when brewing your coffee, and this is usually achieved through the use of neutral or slightly alkaline spring water.
In addition to being appropriate for taste, this range is also appropriate from the point of view of acidity and base, which play an important role in extracting key constituents from ground coffee.
This means you should view an appropriate pH for brewing as an important consideration when choosing your water source, even if it is just for home use.
Different water types for coffee
When it comes to coffee, the quality of the water used in the process is just as important as the quality of the beans. The mineral content, acidity level, and even its source are all factors that will have an impact on the final result.
Many expert baristas say that good-tasting water will make good-tasting coffee, while bad-tasting water will make bad-tasting coffee, no matter how well roasted or fresh the beans are.
The following is a list of the most common water types and how they pair with coffee. I’ve put this list together to explain their differences and make some suggestions on which one is best for your morning brew:
While pure H2O may seem like an obvious solution to better-tasting coffee, it's important to remember that what you're drinking isn't just H2O anymore. Tap water has various dissolved minerals that will affect your cup one way or another depending on its concentration level.
Some experts swear by using distilled water as the only acceptable option, but even this no longer guarantees a neutral beverage since many distillers actually make water more aggressive by stripping it of its natural mineral content before bottling it.
This water type will create a great cup of espresso without scaling up your equipment or imparting any undesirable flavors. The downside is that it's a little less versatile and isn't recommended for brewing all coffees, especially those with lighter roasts, since this water type tends to accentuate the fruitier notes that are usually desired only in darker roasts.
This water type will yield a very tasty cup of espresso, but its low mineral content makes it ill-suited to use when brewing darker roasts. Soft waters also tend to strip the naturally occurring oils from coffee grinds faster than harder types, which release them more easily into your cup.
City water typically contains elevated levels of chlorine, which should be deactivated using a carbon filter. The downside of city water is that it contains trace amounts of every conceivable kind of pollutant, which you really don't want to be drinking in the first place, let alone through your coffee maker, but we realize this isn't practical for everyone.
Carbon Filtered Tap Water
This option will give you the best balance between flavor and convenience, without any mineral buildup. We recommend all our customers use this type of water when possible for their personal at-home coffee-making needs.
Distilled or Reverse Osmosis Water
These options will yield the purest flavor with no mineral content whatsoever, but they are also the most expensive. They should only be used if absolutely necessary (i.e., when traveling) and can often be found in high-end specialty coffee shops to make brewed coffee.
Soft water vs. Hard water
I decided to get a little more technical about this with you, in case you are wondering how to recognize soft vs. hard water.
Water hardness is an important chemical property of water. It refers to the calcium and magnesium salts in water. These are naturally occurring substances in our drinking water sources that can have a significant effect on human health.
Hardness is usually expressed in ppm (i.e., parts per million) or ppm (i.e., milligrams per liter or parts per million). The ppm value indicates the content of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) in water; 1 ppm means that there is one milligram of calcium carbonate per liter of water (1 ppm = 1 mg/L = 0.0051 g/gal).
Water is categorized as "hard" when the ppm value is above 120, "moderately hard" when 60 ppm to 120 ppm, and "soft" at below 60 ppm. Look at the label for these numbers when you are purchasing water to brew your coffee!
At the end of the day, it's not about what kind of coffee you drink or how much caffeine is in your cup. It's all about where that water came from and what minerals are flowing through it.
So pick up a bottle today to find out if one type tastes better than another. Experimenting is always the best way to find out! Happy Brewing!
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