Coffee taste better with tap water instead of bottled water.

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DylanAsdale

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May 16, 2009
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You can call me all variations of crazy if you wish, but I am 100% positive that coffee tastes better when made with tap water instead of bottled (or any kind of purified) water. Every time I make coffee (using the same temperature, amount of coffee, filters etc.) using purified water, it gets incredibly sour and tastes extremely gross; however, when I make the coffee using the tap water, it tastes perfectly fine. I know it's the water I'm using and not anything else.

So, I don't get why people say to use bottled/purified water when it get so sour and costs more?
 

shadow745

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Aug 15, 2005
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Could be that you're so used to using regular "tap" water that anything else just tastes out of whack to you. I do know that most bottled water I've tried tastes acidic (to me) and that could certainly lead to a sour taste. Your tap water could be great as is depending on where it comes from.

The main reason purified water is recommended is to lessen the chances of chlorine, lead, limestone (which will lead to scale buildup) and really a host of other things that can be present in most well or municipality supplied water.

Try this... buy some pool test strips, the type that indicate 5-6 things in your water such as chlorine, PH, alkalinity, hardness and test your tap water to see what it's showing.

Finding great water for coffee can be tough. The most common things used are the filter pitchers/faucet mounted type that really only mildly filter, leading to better taste, but not performance.

Some people think distilled or R.O. water is the best way to go but that actually makes water too perfect because it takes everything out. For coffee you do want a bit of minerals in the water to balance out the taste. You also want the PH to be in the 6.8-7.5 range as that is where water generally tastes better and is safer for all plumbing. Too low and it becomes acidic, too high and it becomes alkaline. You also want a touch of hardness, but not so much that scale becomes an issue.

Again, if your tap water tastes great for you and causes no issues with your equipment then by all means use it. Later!
 
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DylanAsdale

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Thanks for the lengthy reply.

I think I'll try doing that (testing the jug water and then the tap water).

Let me be a bit more specific about "tap water". I live in Indiana and we have well water specifically. The water in the bathroom sinks are better than in the kitchen because I think no salt goes into the water in the kitchen.

Could the fact that there's salt in the water we use have anything to do with cutting down on the sourness?
 

shadow745

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Why would you have salt in your water? Could possible be small amounts naturally occuring... Or a malfunctioning softening system if you have one. Also, why would you have this issue in part of your plumbing and not the other? How old is your home? Maybe different types of plumbing in 2 different areas could account for different taste... Later!
 

pbmac

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Water softeners use salt to soften the water...that would be why there might be salt in the water...very minute trace amounts.

Its unusual for a water softener to soften only water to a certain faucet unless its set up that way...

One of the water folks at Coffee Fest mentioned to me to take some purified water, and add some minerals back to it...they even gave me a single use packet of the minerals...I haven't tried it yet, but I am wondering if your bottled water just needs some minerals. Sometimes those bottled water companies simply use some sort of filter on the local water source...they really don't do much.

Also - I use a filter pitcher - Brita - and I love the taste of my coffee. The tap water is on a water softener, and the Brita seems to change the taste.

Good luck....
 

shadow745

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Not all softeners use salt for regeneration. AND salt isn't directly responsible for softening as it simply recharges the ions that remove minerals from incoming water. There shouldn't be a hint of salt in the water unless a regeneration has just taken place or a malfunction is present. Later!
 

CCafe

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shadow745 said:
Not all softeners use salt for regeneration. AND salt isn't directly responsible for softening as it simply recharges the ions that remove minerals from incoming water. There shouldn't be a hint of salt in the water unless a regeneration has just taken place or a malfunction is present. Later!

There are only a handful of working water filtration systems out there that will produce soft water without the use of salt. There are a good many systems out there that claim to give you soft water and really only offer snake oil.

Now on to your statement of Salt isn't directly responsible for softening. I would suggest a little more reading on your part. SALT is directly related to how water softening via ion exchange works. When the positively charged calcium and magnesium ions pass through the negatively charged resin the sodium ions are exchanged and added to the water. The resin then will hold those calcium and magnesium ions until the system is recharged replacing them with more sodium ions and flushing the waste down the drain.

So the harder the water the more sodium ions will be exchanged. This is why when you have people with certain heart conditions who must stay away from salt need to be warned they are drinking soft water.

Now to let you know it is very possible to get a hint of saltiness in your espresso when you have extremely hard water. I've been to places where the water is well over 30 grains. It takes a lot of salt to get that down to 0 grains and that espresso has a hint of salt. Not much you can do about that unless you wish to purify the water even more by running it through a RO system which that will remove all traces of the salt as well as any other mineral.
 

shadow745

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I know a fair amount regarding softening systems, carbon filtration and chemical injection for water treatment systems dealing with aluminum sulfate, caustic soda, ferric chloride, ferric sulfate, etc. as it was my career previously.

I guess we can both agree that most people don't know how important properly balanced water is to coffee and the equipment used to brew it. I surely would never use distilled or reverse osmosis water because it leaves nothing behind except flat taste.

And yes 30gpg of hardness is quite high, but if the softener is properly SIZED for the task at hand, regenerating properly and high quality salt is used there should be no noticeable hint of sodium. Furthermore I wouldn't want perfectly soft water hitting 0 gpg simply because a bit adds to taste/texture of the water IMO. And of course 1-2gpg won't cause any noticeable buildup of scale in most situations.

Also must add the fact that most people are concerned with chlorine, hardness and that sort of thing. Proper PH and alkalinity must be taken seriously as well. Later!
 
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DylanAsdale

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While do appreciate all of the other answers, I believe Shadow745's answers have been the most satisfactory because they make the most sense to me. The reason for this is because the purified water I'm talking about that tastes too sour to me actually does undergo reverse osmosis, and many other steps of filtering. I think his input helps me better understand why my coffee tastes unbelievably sour when I use the water from the jug (the kind you buy at, say, Kroger).

Shadow745, which type of water would you recommend for perfect tasting coffee? What kind of water do you use for your coffee? Everyone else, please feel free to answer as any input would be appreciated, but I want to make sure that Shadow745 answers because I think I can relate most to him.
 

chast

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If you go to You Tube for videos from Seattle Coffee Gear or http://www.seattlecoffeegear.com, they have a great video on this subject. By using R/O water and adding the right amount of minerals to it you will have the correct composition. The minerals are produced by Cirqua Water Systems and their system has been proven and being used by some of the finest cafes. I am not a sales person for Cirqua but a customer.

If anything spend the 8 minutes watching the video.

JMO
Charlie
 
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coffeeloverlisa

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While certainly no water expert, I have been interested in this subject since becoming a coffee retailer. I want my customers to drink great coffee at home and I have no control over their water.

When I travel and brush my teeth in the hotel bathroom, sometimes the water tastes weird to me. Not necessarily bad, just weird. So this might affect the coffee if I used it to make coffee. I cannot assume my customers go to the expense or trouble to use bottled or filtered water to make coffee at home. Lowest common denominator theory is a safe bet, no?

But after the water is boiled to 180-212 degrees, probably average 190 in a home coffee maker, 200 in my Technivorm Mochamaster, most germs are gone and add your very strong coffee flavor. So unless you are a cupper, super maven of coffee or have two tongues, I challenge you to lose business over bottled or tap water.

Cheers,

Lisa
 

CCafe

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The thing is with water your going to run into all kinds of little issues whether it comes from the tap or from a bottled source. Now just saying boiling water and all the problems have disappeared isn't going to cut it.

I can guarantee you that you will have a different cup of coffee from 3 different brewers using 3 different sources of water if you were to test straight tap water, bottled water, and filtered tap water.

This is one of the reasons I'm not a huge fan of drinking coffee at home as a lot of it has been made from just straight tap water. Some times it will come from a Brita pitcher but even that doesn't do as nice of a job as my water filtration in my shop.

The thing that we all need to focus on here is how to educate the end user to make the best possible cup. Whether or not the end user is the coffee shop owner all the way to you making a cup at home. The point we should be making is if you are going to use a particular source of water you must know the qualities that water is coming from. From there we can decide what possible treatments if any are needed to make the best possible cup.
 
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coffeeloverlisa

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CCafe said:
This is one of the reasons I'm not a huge fan of drinking coffee at home as a lot of it has been made from just straight tap water. Some times it will come from a Brita pitcher but even that doesn't do as nice of a job as my water filtration in my shop.

A very interesting statement and the backbone of my blog today- http://rocketfuelcoffee.com/blog/what-did-the-the-ebay-seller-say-to-the-coffee-bean-retailer/ - with absolutely no disrespect intended I assure you. Water filtration systems in a commercial environment should do a great job for the capital invested and for what coffee retailers charge (sometimes 10-20x mark-up), that is part of the customer benefit.

As for not a fan of drinking coffee at home, I have never heard, even once, a coffee retailer state that one. As an online retailer, that is where 100% of my product goes, so I am on the other side. And I do not have any control over what water process is used for my beans. I do know that no matter what water hits my coffee, day or night, it will taste superior to other coffee because it is fresh and of magnificent quality.

I am in the coffee business, not the water business.

Cheers,

Lisa
 

shadow745

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Aug 15, 2005
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Central North Carolina
No disrespect to you Lisa (and I don't say that to many people :) ), but if you don't pay any attention to the water you're using to brew your coffee then you're probably not maximizing that superior quality/freshness provided by your highly sought after RocketFuel. Chlorine, PH balance, hardness, etc. make a rather large impact on how coffee is brewed/extracted and to what degree equipment needs to be maintained. Later!
 
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coffeeloverlisa

Guest
Excellent point and perhaps Toronto water is just so wonderful I have never found it to be an issue, or I am still stuck on the lowest common denominator.

I do not debate the benefit of water quality. Since the drink is 98% water, it is certainly important. My point is that to criticize customers for their water or to assume what source they use is not a great marketing choice. I want folks to buy my coffee. They can use any kind of machine or water they want, and it will be incredible. When I sell online, I am not really selling a water story as a benefit.

Yesterday I was at my local cigar shoppe and the sales lady also sells water purification systems from Korea as a part time side business. She could barely explain how it worked and it was $1200. I could make monthly payments or buy one at $600. Or there was a $400 model. So depending on how much money I had, my water quality would improve. No thanks.

All I am saying is that by the time we boil the water, filter our complex coffee, eat a cookie with it, or in my case, maybe smoke a Cuban cigar with it, maybe we cannot taste that much of a difference if we are just a lay person. And a latte or capp? Now we are even further away.

But thanks for a great debate!!!

Cheers!
 
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