DOES HARD WATER DESTROY YOUR COFFEE’S FLAVOR?
Do you want to know one of the reasons why coffees served in cafés taste way better than coffee brewed at home? It is because they use high-quality water.
Coffee is made up of 98% percent of water. Using great water to brew will produce great coffee. The coffee will have richness, balance, and complexity. On the other hand, using hard water for brewing will leave you with a disappointing cup of coffee. It doesn't matter if you are using fresh coffee beans or pre-ground coffee.
The bad water creates dull coffee, with a muddy acidity and no sweetness at all. There is no technique to transform bad water brew to high-quality coffee. The purpose of this blog post is to help you discover if your brew water is damaging your coffee’s taste and flavor and how it can be fixed.
IS WATER NOT THE SAME?
Water appears like it's the same everywhere, but it is not. From what you’ve seen above, there are different types of water; filtered, spring water, distilled, hard water, and soft water. You need to know the use of the types of water for specific situations, especially in coffee making.
HARD WATER VS SOFT WATER
As we previously mentioned 98% of coffee is made of water. Hard water is normally filled with minerals like calcium and magnesium while soft water is often considered pure. The water types of water can vary from city to city. In some cities, they see distilled water labeled as pure. Yes, it is pure for drinking but not for coffee making. So assuming soft water is glacially pure is not correct.
Hard water on the other hand has bicarbonate ions, magnesium, and calcium hardness. These compounds can be sticky, so they carry some flavorful compounds from your coffee when the brewing process is going on.
Because of its sticky nature, the water will influence the taste/flavor of your coffee. It may not always be in a bad way. For example, magnesium is a very sticky compound, if your water has lots of magnesium, it will make your coffee stronger in both caffeine levels and flavor. So you can always filter the water.
Note that if your water has more bicarbonate, it could make your coffee taste so bitter. Read on to find out more about your water.
WHAT IS THE BEST WATER FOR BREWING?
As we previously mentioned, not all water is the same. This means that water sources are different, some may have high alkaline while others may be odorless and have high concentrations of calcium. Some water sources may have dust, while some may give out the odor. You just have to inquire about your water source.
You shouldn't assume that the water in your apartment will be soft and fine because it is situated in areas with water regulations. One area might have calcium hardness, while another area may have water with a sulfur smell. These areas may be very close to each other but water will taste tastes different. Do you get the point now?
The water used for brewing doesn't have to be 100% pure, but it should have some minerals that will help to extract the aromas and flavor from your ground coffee.
The Specialty coffee association carried out research and concluded that the best water for brewing should be clear, mildly acidic, and chlorine-free. It should also contain a slight concentration of other minerals.
Remember that the water has to be fresh from the tap even if you’d filter it before brewing. If the water sits for up to 12 hours or more, CO2 will mess with it, reducing its PH level and giving the coffee an off-taste. Now that you know the kind of water to use, it is time to check your water source.
CHECK YOUR WATER SOURCE
Most cities are required to publish data on the quality of their water, and you can get most of these reports online about cities in Australia. To get this report, just type your (City, State) Water report. Then look at the most recent water report to learn more about your city’s water quality.
It is possible that the data you find is not relevant to coffee making, but you should dig deeper, you’d find the things you are looking for.
- Moderately hard water- contains 60-125 magnesium per liter
- Hard water- contains about 125-180 mg magnesium carbonate per liter
- Very hard water- contains more than 180 mg magnesium per liter.
If the water source in your city won't harm your coffee, you can use it as a regular brewing source. If the water doesn't fall beyond the acceptable range, then your coffee will lose its flavor.
While this may seem like a big problem, your coffee's flavors can be improved with minor adjustments. You can also test the hardness of your water with a hard water test kit. When you’ve got the answer, you'd know what to do next.
IS WATER PH A FACTOR?
Yes it is. Your water can have acidity or alkaline percentage (standard water has a pH of 7). When it comes to coffee making, the bicarbonates will regulate the acidity. If the bicarbonate is too much in the water, it could turn out bitter.
To have a stellar cup of coffee, you’d want some alkalinity. Note that too much alkalinity will destroy the pleasant/normal acidity that is usually in a cup of coffee while low alkalinity will produce coffee with sour flavors.
In other words, acidic water is bad for coffee extraction but helps with the coffee’s flavor (it can make your equipment corrode faster). The average tap water is okay for extraction but ruins the coffee’s flavors.
HOW TO FIX YOUR WATER
There are different ways to keep the hard water from ruining your coffee. The first option is to filter your tap water. If the problem with your water is too much concentration of minerals (this is a common problem), you can use a water softening filter or use a filtering pitcher.
This method is easy at first, but it can't be maintained because these filters need to be changed regularly. You may not have enough time for that. These filters may not filter the water completely especially when the calcium hardness level is way off.
The second option is to buy soft water that is inside reusable jugs. It is a good option because you won't be wasting lots of plastic bottles. The water may not be 100% pure, but it is better than hard water that has high calcium hardness and acidity. If you have access to spring water, you can use it too.
Research shows that it is quite close to the Specialty Coffee Association water standards. You can experiment with the water at home or work. Let's call it a simple science fair project. Filter your home water, put it in a jug, and also collect the hard water without filtering. Lastly, buy bottled water that has been treated from a store. Then brew coffee with the different types of water with either an espresso machine or French press. Taste each cup of coffee and see the difference yourself. Smell and taste each cup of coffee, are the aromas the same, do they taste the same? Which one is the best? From this experiment, you’d know what to do next.
Water quality is important in coffee making. After all, it is made up 98% of water. Whether you are a coffee fanatic or a casual coffee drinker, using hard water for brewing will destroy your coffee’s flavor while high-quality water will improve the drink dramatically.
Taking care of your water means taking care of your coffee and yourself. But if you don't use great beans to brew, the water quality will not be relevant. So always buy freshly roasted, high-quality coffee beans.
At Coffee Hero we roast only high-quality beans that are sourced directly from the best farms. The coffee beans produce coffee that is rich, robust, and flavorful. We also deliver coffee beans to cafés and restaurants. You can order every week.
If you own a Nespresso machine, then you should buy Compatible Nespresso pods that have fresh coffee. We make our pod in batches, so you are sure of having the freshest coffee.