What should baristas know about water quality?

Composition of water and its basic properties

Two atoms of hydrogen and one atom of oxygen or H2Oor water. Of course, we all remember this from our chemistry lessons in primary school. But with water in nature it is not as simple as the clear formula in the textbook. For water, the water cycle is a journey in which it picks up other substances with it. Dissolved and undissolved solids. What it brings with it at the end of its journey (our tap) then determines its quality, pH and whether we havesoft or hard water.

TDS, pH and water hardness

Thetotal dissolved solidscontent of water is referred to as TDS - total dissolved solids. This term primarily describes the inorganic salts and cations of calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, carbonate, bicarbonate, chloride, sulphate and nitrate anions present in water.

What does TDS have to do with coffee? Certainly more than meets the eye. In fact, everything in the water we use to make coffee affects its extraction. That is, how well the coffee is extracted and how it tastes in the final cup. According to the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA), the water used to make coffee should meet these standards:

  • TDS between 75-250 mg/l with atarget of 150 mg/l
  • Components determining water hardness (mainly calcium and magnesium ions) 17-85 mg/l with a target of 51-68 mg/l
  • Water alkalinity, this is determined by the concentration of negative ions in the water, preferably 40 mg/l
  • pH of the water of 6.5-7.5 with a target of7pH
  • asodiumcontent of less than 30 ml/l with a target of 10 mg/l
  • of course, the water should be odourless and clear without turbidity or reddish tinge

Ideal pH of coffee water

And do you know the colour scale that determines the degree of acidity? Youmust have at least tested the acidity and alkalinity of the measured solution on the indicator paperat that elementary school. Try this experiment on your water at home to find out its pH. That is, whether it is alkaline, neutral, or rather acidic.

As the SCA standards mentioned above dictate, the ideal pH of water is 7. In an ideal world, the positive and negative ions in water are equal and the water has that optimal and neutral pH of 7. For drinking water, a range between 6.5 and 8.5 pH is common. Values below 7pH are taken as acidic. Conversely, water with a pH above 7 is considered alkaline. In the coffee world, while water with a higher pH promotes extraction, it is not suitable for good tasting coffee. Lower pH water is better for the taste of coffee, but you will have trouble making it.

How hard water affects espresso and filter coffee extraction

It's not just variations in acidity that can make coffee extraction difficult. Theone "naughty bugger" that canplagueany barista, and especially a coffee machine, is hard water.

What is hard water? It issimply water that contains mainly calcium and magnesium (Mg2+ andCa2+). Sure, calcium is good for the bones and magnesium is good for the nerves. But when making coffee, hard water can do more harm than good. Calcium in particular is the root ofthe limescale problem.

Why is limescale in a coffee maker dangerous?

You can ensure a long life for your washer and especially your coffee maker if you keep an eye on and adjust the hardness of your water. This is because calcium carbonate precipitates on the walls of the machine when heated. Whether in the kettle, the drip tray or in the boiler and water lines of your espressomachine.

Limescale in the coffee machine can manifest itself, for example, by restricting the water flow, causing problems with water heating, thermostability andirreparably damaging coffee machine components. In any case ,repairing a coffee machine affected by limescaleis costly.

Is soft or hard water espresso better?

Focusing directly on the effect of water hardness on the taste of the coffee itself, the relationship is roughly as follows:

  • hard water contains magnesium, which promotes coffee extraction and the danger of over-extraction comes in a shorter time
  • soft water with a low content of the above-mentioned minerals leads, on the contrary, to weaker extraction

How to adjust the espresso recipe for hard and soft water?

When you have to work with the water you have - whether hard or soft, you can help yourself by adjusting the recipe. In relation to the effect of water type on extraction, I recommend making espresso from hard water in less time. Conversely, with soft water you can help your coffee if you give itenough time to extract and use a finer grind.

Water and coffee taste

With the right amount of magnesium in your water, you can achieve a better taste in your coffee. But there are other components of water that will affect how your coffee tastes. Or rather, not taste. I'm talking aboutchlorine. I'm sure you don't have pool water running from your tap, but water purifiers can cause you to end up drinking chlorine-flavored coffee... and you don't want that.

Besides the composition, thetemperature of the water alsoplays a part in the taste of the coffee . That's why it's preferable to make espresso on a PID machine and then use a thermoregulated barista pot for alternative coffee brewing methods . In the case of filtered coffee, we can also detect changes in taste over time, or as the temperature of the beveragedrops. However, we will talk about the temperature of the water and coffee another time.

Water filtration or how to have great water at home

The best thing youcan do for your coffee machine and your coffee is to get a water filter. Filtered water at home is my strong recommendation for all lovers of good coffee. For cafes and catering businesses, a coffee machine water filtration system should be a must!

Filter kettle yes or no?

Filter kettlesprovide the most affordable way to treat water . You don't have to install anything or connect anything to the water. Filter kettles are available from just a few hundred crowns, but it is awater filtering method with limited capacity. However, in the home, this method is very much used because you are filtering water for a specific purpose - like for making coffee, tea, or even just for a glass of quality water.

How to determine the hardness of water with the BWT testerkit

Acartridge water filtration system is an efficient and almost worry-free way to achieve quality water straight from the tap, i.e. primarily straight into the coffee machine's water supply. The basic installation is not complicated and we have all the necessary accessories such as tubing or a water hardness test together in oure-shop.

The selection of the specific cartridge depends on your requirements - especially the use of the filtered water. Do you have a small coffee machine, a medium or a large coffee shop? Do you serve teas or other beverages with hot water from the coffee machine? Do you want to offer acarafe of filtered water instead of stale tap water ? Include all your needs in your calculations so you know what size cartridge filtration you'll need so you don't have to change it every now and then.

How to choose a water filtration system

The second configurator for choosing the right size filtration system is the hardness value of your water. Well, you can find this out with a simple test. In the BWT testerkit you will find a measuring cup and liquid. You put a sample of your water into the measuring cup and mix it drop by drop with the added liquid. You count the drops until the water sample becomes colored. How easy, right? Now just check the table below to see which type of filtration will be yours.

Premium quality filtered water

Once you know which type of BWT cartridge you need, you can still decide on special requirements. In addition to the classic version, you can choose the BWT Bestmax PREMIUM series. For your water, this will not only mean treatment from unwanted components, but also tuning the water with magnesium to promote coffee extraction and a stronger taste.

Reverse osmosis water filtration for cafes and gastronomy

Looking for maximum performance in optimizing water for hot beverage preparation? Check out reverse osmosis water filtration . This filtration method is the most powerful and ideally suited for cafes and gastronomy businesses. It prepares up to 140 litres of mineral-balanced filtered water per hour. BWT has also taught its Bestaqua (reverse osmosis filtration) to communicate with a mobile app for absolute ease of use.

How does the drinking water filter work?

Water filtration with BWT cartridges is based on a simple principle, where water passes through a set of special filters and is fed from the filtration system in its already treated form into the coffee machine or tap. Water filtration is carried out in several aspects thanks to anactivated carbon filter, water ion treatment and a particulate filter.

BWT filtration technology

Water filtration: what not to forget?

Before the filter itself, it is useful to connect a particulate filter. What else I can recommend is to install a water meter as well . It doesn't matter so much whether mechanical or digital. The point is that by measuring the water, you will know when the old cartridge has run its course. It's a sure-fire way to keep an eye onthe filter cartridge replacement time without changing it late (bad for the machine and coffee) or early (bad for your wallet).

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