What Is The Best Water For Coffee
Water makes up 98-99% of a cup of coffee! So it’s no surprise that the type of water you use can have a big impact on the taste of your coffee. If your water is not good to begin with, there is no way it can make a good cup of coffee. By the end of this article, you’ll know exactly which type is the best water for coffee, or at least be on the right path to deciding.
The Best Water For Coffee: Hard vs Soft
When water hardness is described, it is referring to the amount of minerals dissolved in the water. The most common minerals found in water are calcium and magnesium. When these minerals are present in high levels, the water is considered “hard”. If the levels of calcium and magnesium are low, the water is considered “soft”. The grading scale for water hardness is as follows: 0-60 mg/L (milligrams per liter) = soft; 61-120 mg/L = moderately hard; 121-180 mg/L = hard; and 181+ mg/L = very hard. These minerals affect not only the flavor of your coffee, but will build up in your coffee maker if you use a drip style or single serve coffee maker.
If you’re not sure what the mineral content of your tap your water is, there are ways you can find out. You can very cheaply get a TDS kit. This test kit will tell you the Total Dissolved Solids in your water, though not all of them tell you the amount of each individual mineral. It could be mostly calcium or it could be mostly magnesium, or something else entirely. You just don’t know. Since calcium and magnesium react with coffee differently, the information these test provide is not terribly useful with regard to the taste of coffee. They will however, tell you the level of mineral content in your water. Other more expensive tests are more comprehensive.
If you are served by a metropolitan water authority, you have much more information at your disposal. In most major cities, you can get the breakdown from your water authority. Their website will usually have a page where you can put enter your zip code, and generate a report on just what exactly is in your water, and this can be very useful.
Coffee made with hard water tends to be higher in caffeine due to the caffeine molecules bonding with the calcium and magnesium. When coffee is made with soft water, these minerals are present at much lower levels, and the coffee is lower in caffeine as a result. Coffee made with soft water does have a higher level of sodium as a byproduct of the softening process, and this also has an effect the taste of your coffee. So you can see, there is a lot to think about.
Water that is high in calcium but low in magnesium, will have a different taste than water that is high in magnesium and low in calcium, and this will also be reflected in the flavor of your coffee. By the same token, coffee brewed with soft water will taste different due to the higher sodium content.While there is some debate as to whether hard water or soft water is better for coffee, more brewers than not agree that filtered tap water is the best water for coffee
The Best Water For Coffee: Filtered vs Distilled
Filtered water is water that has been treated to remove impurities. This can be done through a variety of methods, including reverse osmosis, carbon filters, and ultraviolet light. You can buy filtered water, or filter it yourself with an in home filtration system. It is much cleaner than regular tap water, but it still contains some dissolved minerals.
If you choose to use filtered water, there are several ways to filter it. You can use a device like the Brita pitcher. These will reduce the level of some chemicals and minerals, but they will not remove them all. For brewers with generally good water, this type of filter may be all you need. This type of filter, and nearly all filters will come with a National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) certification that explains which elements the device will filter.
There are also filters that attach to your spigot. These filters are far more effective at removing impurities than the pitcher variety. Brita and Pur are the two big players in this market and both do a good job of removing impurities. There are advantages to each the and the New York Times has done an in depth one on one comparison. Whichever method you choose, make sure you replace the filters regularly to ensure that you you are using the best water for coffee you possible can.
You may also want to invest in an under sink water filter. Under-sink water filters can clean around 1,000 gallons of water. So depending on usage, this type of filter can last for months before replacement is required. Also, under-sink filters force water through the filter under pressure so the filters are denser,and will remove a broader range of contaminants. These units are very effective at reducing contaminates from your water, while leaving enough of the minerals you want.
Distilled water, on the other hand, is water that has been boiled to remove all impurities. This leaves behind only the purest water. It is completely free of dissolved minerals. The problem is that calcium and magnesium add to the flavor of the coffee When these minerals are completely removed, the coffee tends to be flat and less flavorful, so there is a trade off of sorts. The water is more “pure” but, but less flavorful and less nutritious, as calcium and magnesium are necessary nutrients. All that remains is hydrogen and oxygen and nothing else, which is bland and flavorless.
Remember, distilled water is completely free of minerals, while filtered water has had the majority, but not all of its minerals removed. The mineral content of the water will have a major impact on the flavor of the coffee. Generally speaking, the higher the mineral content, the more flavorful the coffee.
No matter which type of water you use, remember that there is no one “right” way to make coffee, so feel free to experiment with different types of water until you find the perfect match for your coffee beans and your personal taste, and discover the best water for coffee.