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Is water affecting your brew? Don’t worry we will provide a guide to better tasting coffee and investigate the best water for coffee. Water is a constant hot button debate across the world, even in America where most of us have access to clean drinking water in our kitchens.
However, clean doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best for brewing. We’re going to go over water levels and dissolved solids, filtration, and exactly what it does to your cup of coffee.
The best water for coffee is going to increase flavor and make your coffee smoother.
If you wash dishes by hand, or haven’t been in the dishwasher to empty the clean ones in a few days, you’ve likely already seen the evidence of dissolved solids in your water.
It’s that little powdery white patch in the corner of baking pans and on the bottom of cups.
Let’s discuss your water first and foremost, so you can test if you already have the right water for a perfect cup of coffee.
How to Test Your Water At Home
First and foremost, dissolved solids are necessary… a little bit.
They’re used to treat the multiple sources that water come from, but when they linger in the water or stay at high levels, they’re unhealthy.
By the time the water passes from your pipes into your body, that’s when filtration should happen. It keeps the water safe while stored in your pipes.
Measuring small amounts of TDS is tricky.
There are laboratory-controlled ways that this is achieved, but you can actually buy a TDS measurement device off of Amazon.
This is the quickest and most effective way to test your water at home. For the perfect cup of coffee, we want to see zero dissolved solids in your water.
If you need a filtration system that truly keeps all dissolved solids out of the water, you can use a ZeroWater filtration device.
This is your best bet for great coffee at home (especially since coffee houses use large four-step filtration systems that get maintained frequently).
You ideally want to see zero dissolved solids in your water for the best flavor and water safety. To achieve this, you need to understand the ppm (parts per million) chart.
You can measure ppm from zero to five-hundred. The higher you get, the worse it is, (hence the brand name ZeroWater).
An acceptable ppm range for brewing coffee is anywhere between 75 and 250, however, that’s where the average tap water is at.
When you get into the 300 range, it’s almost dangerous, and north of 350 should not be consumed.
Even though it’s a kick in the stomach, spring water actually contains the same amount of dissolved solids thanks to fertilizers leaching into the water and how we’ve treated our planet.
How TDS Affects Coffee
We all want a better tasting cup of coffee, and TDS can severely limit how much quality there actually is in that coffee.
We’re relying on pure water to pass through the beans and extract all that delicious coffee flavor, but TDS gets in the way of that.
Coffee gets ground up to a super fine size, and from there you run water through it. Just like with anything else, dissolved solids will build up and create a layer of sediment.
This will coat your coffee grinds, making sure that there are certain areas, or a certain overall surface percentage, where the water isn’t running through.
That ruins the entire brewing process. It’s like taking a certain percentage of your grinds, and throwing them directly in the garbage.
If you’ve ever heard the term soft water or hard water, then you already know a little something about water quality and what they are.
Soft water contains as little minerals as possible, whereas hard water has a higher deposit of calcium and magnesium.
You might have heard commercials for chemical cleaners refer to “hard water buildup.” That’s what they’re talking about.
Filtered vs. Spring Water for Coffee Making
So we know that spring water has dissolved solids, but it’s a little different than treated water.
Springwater naturally contains calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium, whereas with other bottled water it’s added at a later date.
Springwater is an acceptable way to brew hot and cold coffee, and you’ll taste a considerable difference between the two.
However, the very best thing you could do for coffee is to use filtered water. It’s important to filter the water yourself since your plastic bottles can leach BPA and other chemical components directly into your water.
While that’s a hot button topic that you’ll find arguments for, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Not that your children are going to be drinking coffee, but BPA, which is mostly absent from newer water bottle production, can act like estrogen in the body, delay or enact puberty early, increase body fat contents and decrease fertility later in life.
The American Academy of Pediatrics also states that phthalates may affect male genital development and even add to the risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Filtered water that’s stored in proper containers is the healthiest and best tasting option.
Since most coffee houses use a filtration system to filter through the water, you’re not getting a “heavy” tasting coffee.
The lower the TDS in the water, the more of the actual coffee you’re tasting. That’s both good, and it could also be bad.
If you have a low quality coffee, those negative attributes are going to shine through a little more than they normally would.
Filtered Water Shows the Flaws in Coffee
No dissolved solids is a great thing, but it brings out the full body of the coffee, and all of the acidity as well.
If you have a good roast from a high-quality bean, in theory it should enhance the flavor, but it takes some getting used to.
You’ll notice a slightly stronger flavor in filtered water coffee since approximately 99% of the coffee grind surface area (nothing can be completely certain) will be covered.
It’s a healthier coffee that reaps more benefits that tap water coffee. There’s another type of water that’s becoming more popular to use, and that’s alkaline water.
Alkaline Water and Coffee
Alkaline water is at the opposite end of the pH scale from acid. Alkaline doesn’t mean better it just means that it has much fewer hydrogen ions.
Alkaline water will help balance the acidity in coffee beans during the brewing process.
However, it is the acidity in your coffee that allows the antioxidants to travel through your body and work to fight free radicals. Consequently, exclusively brewing your coffee with alkaline water may not be a good idea.
Coffee Brewing Does Not Kill Waterborne Bacteria
There’s a common misconception that since you’re heating water it will also kill bacteria.
That is completely false. Water needs to be at a rolling boil to effectively kill bacteria, and the ideal temperature of coffee makers reaches 200°F (93°C) which is 12°F (7°C) less than is required to even begin the boiling point.
Regardless of whatever water you’re using, such as tap water that may have been chlorinated or fluoridated, it’s not going to disinfect itself.
You can use alternative methods, such as water filtration systems which do remove bacteria (which is different from killing bacteria as boiling water does).
If you are cold brewing your coffee, then it’s important to know that you run a slightly higher risk of waterborne bacteria.
Cold brewing takes quite some time and needs to be done in controlled circumstances.
Some cold brewing can take twenty-four hours to complete, and at that point, the entire brewing process needs to be in a refrigerated area that’s below 41 F.
You should also only be using filtered water to make cold brew coffee.
In Conclusion, Water Quality is Paramount
Filter your water, even if it’s from your faucet.
The less TDS in your water, the better your coffee is going to taste, and the more even your brew will be. Water quality isn’t something that we always think about in America.
It comes out of the tap, and it’s safe to drink—the thoughts about our water shouldn’t stop there. You owe it to yourself to test it and give yourself the very best water for your coffee.
If you’ve been using tap water in your coffee maker for a while, clean it out to remove sediment from continuous tap water use in the past.