Tap or Bottled? The Best Water for Brewing Coffee

Many of us don’t give a lot of thought beyond the basics of brewing coffee. While you have probably taken the time to choose a coffee bean you prefer, bought a machine that you know will make a good cup of coffee and picked your favorite coffee mug, you probably haven’t given much thought to your water. So, what is the best water for brewing coffee?

You want to enhance the coffee’s flavor rather than detract from it. Knowing which water is going to do this can change the overall flavor of your cup of coffee dramatically.

Understanding Which Water is Best for Brewing

The reality is that the softer the water that you use to brew your java, the better the coffee taste and quality are going to be.

Many people don’t know that there are actually coffee connoisseurs and specialists who have come up with the ideal water for brewing.

The best water for brewing coffee should have no smell or color, and no chlorine. It should have a pH level of 7.0 and an alkalinity of 40 ppm.

The calcium hardness should be within a range of 50-175 ppm CaCO3.

While this may seem like a lot of detail to consider you can really just aim to make sure your brewing water is clean, softer and that it has no chlorine.

Hard Water vs Soft Water

Hard versus Soft Water

We may never question how hard or soft the water we get from our tap is however, there is a significant difference. This difference comes in the concentration of ions.

What makes the most difference are the levels of calcium and magnesium that is in the water. Hard water means that there is a much higher level of minerals compared to the concentration that is found in soft water.

While soft water is preferred in a home, many geographical areas vary in the level of water hardness. As such people often have their water treated to make it softer but the level of ions affecting their water can still be somewhat high.

It is the high mineral content that makes hard water inferior to soft when it comes to making coffee. The higher mineral content tends to diminish the flavors of the ground coffee as it brews.

Hard water can also cause issues with your coffee maker as the minerals can lead to limescale build-up that can clog the machine. Making sure you are using soft water with lower amounts of minerals will give you a better cup of brewed coffee and keep your machine working well.

Bottled Water

Most coffee lovers think that bottled water is the best water for any coffee brewing method. There is a misconception that it is better than other water.

While bottled water is certainly clean and has no chlorine, many bottled water brands have high levels of minerals and are considered to be hard water. Other bottled waters have next to no minerals at all which is not necessarily any better.

If you want to find the ideal bottled water for your coffee, then you have to do a bit of research since there are only a few brands that will fall within the specified softness range for the best cup of coffee.  

The bottle labels should have information on their mineral content. Look for minerality measured and usually labelled as TDS or dry residue. Ideally you want a water that falls in the 50/157 mg/l range, so you know you have enough minerals without high levels of water hardness.

Tap Water Options

Tap Water Options

While some people are lucky and have softer tap water there are many who don’t and need some other coffee making options.

Some machines come with a charcoal filter built-in but if yours doesn’t have this, then buying a water jug that allows you to filter your water through a charcoal filter is great option.

These jugs are relatively inexpensive and can be kept in the fridge. There are also charcoal filters that mount onto an existing water tap. They will take out chlorine and any smells as well as other minerals from the existing tap water.

If you want a more thorough method, then there are also filters that can be installed under your sink so you will always have clean, chlorine-free soft water.

There also other options, such as using distilled water or water that has been filtered through reverse osmosis. These have the minerals removed, then are treated with an additive to reintroduce limited minerals.

While this option is certainly viable and works, it takes a lot more work than adding a filter to your tap or having a jug of charcoal filtered water in your fridge that you just refill as needed.

The Final Word on The Best Water for Brewing Coffee

Many of us are happy with the morning brew of coffee we already drink, but often we don’t realize how much it would be improved if we used better water to make it.

Coffee is a flavorful drink that can offer a lot more if given the right ingredients and process. A good, flavorful coffee blend made in a good machine is wonderful but add in some soft water to enhance the flavors and you are going to enjoy your cup of coffee even more.

You can experiment with water just as you would coffee beans. Try your tap water, distilled, bottled and filtered to see which pairs well with the beans you like to use for your home brewing experience.

Once you have tried the various options, you will know which brings out the flavors of the beans you enjoy the most and you can stick with that chosen option for maximum enjoyment of your cups of coffee.

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