The Basics of Better Brewing - Water

Water is 95% of your cup of coffee

There is one ingredient in coffee that is all too important and very often overlooked: water. Unless you enjoy cream and sugar, each cup you drink is more than 95% water. A good rule of thumb is if you can taste anything in the water, those flavors will also affect your coffee. Similarly if you have ever tasted distilled water and thought that it tastes flat, you would likely find that coffee brewed with distilled water also tastes flat. Water from the tap is one of modern life's greatest conveniences and is frequently used to brew coffee at home.

Low-quality water can add a bad taste to your coffee

However, if you are using tap water to brew your coffee you should be aware that there are things in it that can have an adverse effect on your brew. Heavy metals, chlorine and fluoride are commonly found in all municipally regulated water sources throughout the United States. While many experts and quality oriented cafs use water that has been purified to remove heavy metals and additives as well as being treated with added minerals to yield water with a precisely tuned chemistry (PH 7, hardness between 70-80mg/L, and an alkalinity of about 50mg/L). Producing water of this caliber in your home can be a costly and challenging affair. But do not despair, there is hope! 

Try a few experiments to optimize your cup of coffee

Here is a short list of things you can do to get the most out of your coffee when you brew at home, on the road, or anywhere.

  • Start with fresh cold water each time you brew. That means dumping the old water from your kettle if you use one, and giving it a rinse before you fill it. Water that has been boiled loses much of its dissolved oxygen and can taste funny after boiling twice. (Try this with your tea too!)
  • Taste the water you will brew with, if you can taste flavors that you dont enjoy then you can be sure those flavors will also influence your brewed coffee (Try it when the water is coffee temperature for maximum precision)
  • Pre-rinse the filter you will use to remove any residual flavors
  • Try a few different types of bottled water for brewing your coffee
  • Use a household water purifier, make sure you do your research, there are many methods and systems available
  • As a fun experiment, try any of these methods in a side-by-side taste test. For example, try brewing with tap, bottled, and distilled water at the same time and see which brew you like the best, the results may be surprising!
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