What’s the Best Water for Coffee?

Clean, pure water. Good for you, good for your coffee.

Water. It’s everywhere and we don’t give it a second thought. But it’s the most used substance in almost any human enterprise.

Especially coffee making.

Did you know it makes up to 95 to 98% of the coffee in your cup?

It then makes a lot of sense to use the best, freshest and cleanest water we can find, doesn’t it?

What’s the Big Deal About Water and Coffee?

Water has several functions in the whole coffee growing, processing, and brewing cycle. One of the most important hinges on it being the world’s most common and effective solvent.

For our brewing purposes, that makes water highly effective, and safe, in extracting the compounds and oils out of the coffee grounds.

At a high temperature of 195° to 205°, water first soaks the grounds to release the coffee oils and dissolve the soluble solids. Then it slowly drains through to the cup or carafe carrying these components that make up the flavors and aromas we look forward to.

Why Is Good Water So Important?

Good, clean water is important because chemicals and minerals, either added or natural, affect the extraction process. They also mess up the taste and aroma of the coffee. Your city may treat the water with chemicals like chlorine. My water smells like a pool minutes after a shock treatment.

Not a primo situation for coffee enjoyment!

But while we want clean and fresh, we don’t want all of the minerals gone. Some mineral content is actually good for coffee brewing.

What’s the Best Water for Coffee?

Figuring out which is the best isn’t a big problem. It’s easy to solve if your water is sub-par for coffee. Let’s delve into how to get it up to a standard that makes great coffee.

Using What the City Gives You – Turn On the Tap

First off, there’s tap water. If your water doesn’t go through a filtration system, do this. Taste and smell it. You probably already have an opinion. If your tap water is something that you drink without a grimace, it may be good enough for coffee.

Maybe.

If you’re one of the lucky ones and your water is tasty, then use it! No reason to spend money on filtration or bottled water.

But if it smells, looks and/or tastes funny, here are other options to get the best water you can.

Tap – Use cold tap water and let it run for a few seconds before filling the pot.

Hard Water and Plumbed in Filtered Systems

Water with a high mineral content is considered hard. One way to combat hard water is through a household filtration system.

This may be already installed. Whether it’s important enough just for coffee, only you can decide. But be aware that hard water filtration might pull out too many minerals especially the desirable ones.

But if your water is only slightly hard, it may be fine to use. It can even improve the overall flavor and aroma of the coffee.

If your tap water goes through a filtration system, or you just want to test your tap water, here’s a simple test you can perform to see if you can use that water.

Use bottled water and compare the two. See the section below to see what kind of bottled water to use.

  1. Make a pot of coffee with your tap water first.
  2. Taste it and make some notes.
  3. Does it taste all right?
  4. Does it smell somewhat off? Is there a sulfur or chlorine smell?
  5. Then, repeat the process with bottled water.

You may need to go through several cycles, but it’s worth it to really make sure you’ve got the best water.

Before you start the test though, clean your coffee maker. This way there will be one less variable to contend with.

And anyway, when was the last time you cleaned it?

Please note, if your coffee maker comes with special cleaning instructions, use them. If not, I’ve added a simple process you can use at the end of this post.

Soft Water and Coffee Brewing

Soft water though is another issue altogether. Believe it or not, your water can be too soft or over filtered for coffee brewing. As mentioned in the last section, there are some minerals that are needed that end up getting filtered out.

This also means that you don’t want to use distilled water, or water that comes through a reverse osmosis unit

You may need to resort to bottled water to make better coffee. Coffee made with soft water tends to be flat and weak.

Is Bottled Water a Good Substitute?

Bottled water sometimes isn’t the greatest choice. Most people don’t know that a majority of the bottled water on the market is just tap water. The distributor has just put it into a plastic bottle for convenience. So not only are you still getting tap water now you’re adding to landfill waste.

Check and see where your bottled water comes from. If it’s spring water, it should be fine. But as I noted above, don’t use distilled or purified water. These both have had all of the minerals as well as chemicals removed.

If you think it may be tap water, go the filtered route in the next section. You’ll save money in the long run and avoid adding to the landfills.

Other Filtration Methods That Work

If you don’t have a plumbed in filter system and you’re not thrilled with bottled water, no problem. You can use off the shelf filtering. I usually recommend a Brita or Pur system for filtering your water. If you’re using another system, it’s probably fine if you like the taste of the water.

If at some point you want to take your water filtering practice a little more seriously, go fourth and filter! Here’s an interesting paper to read: Jim Schulman’s Insanely Long Water FAQ

Otherwise, these units are simple to use and can be used for other needs as well such as drinking and cooking.

Cleaning Your Coffee Maker the Easy Way

One thing to note. If you have a super automatic coffee maker or espresso maker, don’t use this process. These units have boilers in them that can be damaged by the vinegar.

Please look up their instructions if you don’t have them. They’ll usually be on the manufacturer website. And then check under the support link and you can usually find the proper instructions.

Failing that, contact the support team for the manufacturer and see if you can get the directions from them.

You’ll need white vinegar and water (didn’t I mention somewhere about how common its use is?)

  1. Prepare a solution of 50% white vinegar and 50% water.
  2. Pour this into the coffee maker and start the brewing cycle.
  3. Stop it about halfway through and let it sit in the coffee maker for about 30 minutes.
  4. Restart the coffee maker to finish the cycle.
  5. Rinse the coffee maker by running water through a brew cycle two or more times to remove the vinegar residue.

Using the most abundant resource on the planet for your coffee sometimes needs some research. I hope this helps to clear up the water portion of coffee brewing and helps you find your best water for coffee. Fresh and clean is what gets the most out of those pricey beans you bought.

Your reward is rich, full taste with a delicious aroma.

Get your best cup of coffee using
fresh, clean water. Better tasting
and you can enjoy the coffee bean’s
finer and subtler tastes.

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