How your water type affects coffee, and what you can do about it

In a previous blog we addressed how water extracts coffee from the coffee beans and how that process affects your coffee.  But what about the water itself?  Short answer: yes, yes it does.

Your coffee is about 98% water.  What type of water you brew your coffee with actually makes a large impact as well.

Do you have soft water?  Soft water is essentially how water falls from the sky as rain, and typically only has sodium in it.

And what about hard water?  Hard water has a bunch of other minerals, and is generally what happens when rain water passes over ground into our waterways, and tends to have large amounts of calcium and magnesium.

It might not seem like a big difference, but coffee brewing is a fine dance of chemistry, and if you have trace amounts of salt (ie sodium) versus large amounts of whatever chemicals are present in your part of the world, it’ll have different reactions with your coffee beans.

First off though, how do you even know if you have hard water?  Well, assuming you’re drinking from your faucet, a good indicator of hard water is if your shower leaves behind a mineral-y salty glaze after not being washed for a little bit.  All of that is leftover minerals (not necessarily a bad thing in all cases), and those minerals are the same ones in your coffee.

But, short of paying for a chemical analysis of your water, it’s really tough to know where your water falls on the spectrum.  And, even if you got that information, does that mean that it is the optimal level?

There are a couple options here, but as explained in our blog about how to taste, consistency is probably the most important thing here.  Use the same water and tweak one variable at a time.  Perhaps how your water is extracting the coffee from the beans will have a larger effect.  Or, if your water doesn’t taste good to you, then get a filter or a type of bottled water that does taste good to you.  Waters come from all over, so you just need to remember to stop and pay attention first.

Now, lets assume you’ve got decent water already and you already got your water extraction down.  Third Wave Water has an interesting solution.  They have special mineral packs at the optimal levels for each mineral, specifically meant to bring out the best and most consistent coffee flavors there are.  You need to start with either distilled water, or water from reverse osmosis, as this is water in its most pure and undiluted form, and then add the minerals in afterwards.

Third Wave Water is a play off the term “third wave coffee” which is essentially the craft coffee era we are in now (the first wave simply having coffee, then the second era is its mass distribution and ready availability, and then the third wave is where you can tweak and customize and craft the coffees in new and unique ways).  So, for the coffee snob in your life, getting that high quality coffee and that high quality coffee water from Third Wave Water would likely make the perfect gift.

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2 thoughts on “How your water type affects coffee, and what you can do about it

  1. Pingback: The 10 Types of Coffee Roasts and What They Mean | Match Made Coffee – Blog

  2. Pingback: The World Is Entering the Third Wave of Coffee | Match Made Coffee – Blog

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