It may seem excessive or snobbish, but it would be a shame to take a premium specialty-roast coffee or a fine tea and brew it in regular old tap water. Coffee and tea are nearly 99 percent water, making good water quality essential to the final product.
So what makes for good brewing water?
- For starters, it needs to be free of odors and foul tastes, generally caused by chlorine, lead, asbestos and other contaminants that are common in municipal water.
- It also needs to be free of calcium, which can damage your espresso equipment. (More on this later.)
- Your water needs some mineral content as this is actually what makes water taste good—and thus makes a good cup of coffee or tea. Without minerals, water lacks mouth feel and flavor and will taste flat.
Water Filtration versus Softening
Water filtration generally refers to carbon-based filters that remove the bad tastes, odors and particulate matter from water. Every city and town has at least a few of these bad actors floating around in their water supply. It’s unavoidable, short of charging residents a lot more for all the water they use—including bathing, gardening, etc.
Water softening is the process of removing minerals (namely calcium) that will build up inside your espresso machine and cause problems if not removed. It’s called scaling, and looks just like it sounds: like scales coating the inner workings of your equipment. It’s not pretty.
To treat the hard water in the upper Midwest, our service techs at Espresso Services are adamant that customers soften water for their espresso machines.
The ultimate method for accomplishing both filtration and softening is a dual filtration and reverse osmosis softening system, such as those offered by Everpure, Pentair, 3M and others. These systems essentially manufacturer pure water and let you precisely adjust the mineral content, so there is enough for your coffee to taste good but not enough to harm your equipment.
There are four steps to most filtration/softening systems:
- Sediment Filtration: Removes rough particles, sand and rust.
- Carbon Filtration: Removes chlorine and chemicals that contribute to bad odors and tastes, and would otherwise damage the reverse osmosis membrane.
- Reverse Osmosis: Removes dissolved solids and virtually everything larger than the water molecule itself. This is where most of the purification is accomplished.
- Re-mineralization: Water purified by reverse osmosis is highly pure and slightly acidic. Trace amounts of calcium and magnesium are added back in during re-mineralization to balance the pH and improve taste.
Bonus: Polishing Filter
Some filtration systems include a final carbon filtration that will will “polish” off the water to remove any remaining taste and odor.
Tip: La Marzocco’s water content parameters are followed by hundreds if not thousands of reputable coffee shops. It’s easy to plug them into reverse osmosis systems.
Contact us today to purchase and install your water filtration and reverse osmosis softening system.