Your cup of coffee only contains about 2% coffee – the rest of it is water. Because of this, it’s no surprise that getting water ‘right’ is a big deal. So much so that there are companies who create mineral sachets to mix into distilled water to create the ‘perfect’ water for coffee.
We love an experiment, and so we’ve been looking very closely at water. We took distilled water, bottled water, tap water and ‘recipe’ water (distilled water enhanced with a selection of minerals), and put them to the test.
We took the experiment on the road to Manchester Coffee Festival (oh those were the days)! It was amazing to see how many coffee pros were surprised to find that the coffees they were drinking were all the same, and it was just the water that made them different. The water used had a huge impact on the clarity of flavour, acidity and body. Our findings in brief, below:
With no minerals to aid in brewing, distilled water (unsurprisingly) creates very dull tasting coffee. Tap water varies from place to place, and so its mineral content is very hit and miss. The chlorination from tap water also isn’t great for the overall taste of your brew.
Bottled water can be really great (a little more on this later) ‘Recipe water’, although a bit of extra work to set up, really does give incredible results.
What surprised us the most was how much difference there was between bottled water and ‘recipe water’. We expected a huge jump between regular and bottled water, but the jump from bottled to ‘recipe water’ was just as significant.
Water Jugs – Yay or Nay?
In short, it depends on your water hardness and on the type of jug you get. First off you can recycle water filters here. With that in mind, they are probably the most environmentally friendly option you have as a typical home user.
In terms of how they affect taste – all of them have active carbon in them to remove the chlorine from the water. This is a big and great first step as chlorine can muddy the taste and give a slight chemical edge to your coffee.
The better ones also have some form of remineralisation. If you want the best tasting coffee using a water jug go for ones that remineralise – especially in soft water areas.
However, it does depend on the tap water in your area! Most jugs cannot adjust for the water you give it. The Peak can! Peak Water utilises a dual-ion system which holds back a proportion of the minerals in your water, to make sure that you’re not brewing with too much mineral content. The carbon filter does the job of removing any unwanted organic compounds.
If you are in a hard water area we would highly recommend this jug as you can adjust it to filter your water according to the hardness. The jug comes with strips to help you find the right setting for your area.
One particular bottled water is regarded as being pretty much perfect for brewing coffee – Tesco’s Ashbeck. Its pH and mineral content mean that you get a really well-extracted brew, with great clarity of flavour.
However, this isn’t the most environmentally friendly option. If you want to reduce the impact, buy the biggest option you can to reduce the plastic to water ratio (Ashbeck comes in 5l bottles). And reuse it as much as you can before you recycle it.
You could bring the empty bottle to your local cafe and ask very nicely if you can fill it up with their filtered water (please tip them, as water isn’t free and good cafes spend a lot on their water systems)! Trying a cafe’s water is a great way to see the effect of different waters and broaden your palate.
Filtered Water System
The third and most drastic option (it won’t surprise anyone that this is the option I’ve gone for) is to install a water filtration system for the home. Commercial filters last significantly longer, you only need to swap a filter twice a year vs once a month. Commercial filters have more mineralisation options, too. However, they are by far the most expensive and most labour intensive up front.
I hope you enjoyed exploring Water Filtration options with me!
My recommendations for home:
- Water Jug – Peak Water for the geeks (buy it here), BWT Mineralised Water filters
- Bottled Water
- We found that Tesco’s Ashbeck worked really well for our coffees.
- Filtered Water system for home – BWT BestMax Premium
- Water for Coffee – Maxwell Colona Dashwood & Christopher Hendon
- Barista Hustle (subscription required)
- Water Science Module. This is where you’ll learn all about ‘recipe water’ and how to make your own.